Our favorite fancy French pastry to make is this fraisier cake recipe.
About This Fraisier Cake Recipe
Fraisier is the French word for strawberry bush and, true to its name, the cake’s most visible element is an array of fresh strawberries halves. The strawberries are set off by the rich and creamy crème mousseline (essentially pastry cream or crème pâtissière (also known as custard) “lightened” with a lot of whipped butter) and sandwiched between two thin slices of sponge cake (genoise in French) topped with strawberry jam.
This is a classic french cake and, to us, heralds strawberry season (late June/early July on the East coast; April in Southern California). We love to make it to celebrate the end of the school year and beginning of summer. It was one of the first cakes we learned to make in our brief stint in pastry classes, and reminds us of Chef Lugrine, our very un-smiley French pastry teacher, and fun evenings with fellow pastry apprentices.
Fancy Toys for Fancy Cakes
This cake is another opportunity to whip out your cake ring and an acetate strip. If you don’t have either, never fear. You can easily make this with an 8-inch spring form pan and some plastic wrap. It’ll just be a little tougher to get a smooth finish on your crème mousseline. This is another great multi-day project. The sponge cake can be wrapped in cling film and frozen. The creme mousseline and simple syrup both keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
For the Love of Fancy Cakes
Love fancy cakes? Here are a few other baking projects to try:
Craving more delicious strawberry treats? Check these out:
One Fancy Fraisier Cake Recipe
For the Crème Mousseline:
- 14 oz milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean or vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 8 tbsp corn starch
- 9 tbsp unsalted butter divided into 4 tbsp + 5 tbsp at room temperature
For the Genoise Sponge Cake:
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 5 tbsp sugar
For the Simple Syrup:
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/8 cup kirschwasser or cherry liquor
For the Topping:
- 1 pound strawberries
- 1/2 cup strawberry jam
For the Creme Mousseline:
- Heat the milk with the vanilla bean (if using) until hot in a small saucepan.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow (this can be done by hand with a whisk or with an electric mixer).Add the corn starch to the egg mixture.
- Pour one quarter of the hot milk into the egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk and stir over medium heat with a whisk until the mixture becomes thick.
- Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract (if using) and the 4 tbsp of butter.
- Pour the custard into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, adhering the wrap to the surface of the custard to prevent a custard crust from forming (eew). Let cool in the refrigerator while you make the sponge cake.
- When you are ready to assemble, whisk the custard in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium speed to loosen it slightly. Then, slowly add the butter in pieces no larger than 1 tbsp at a time.
- Once all the butter has been incorporated, beat the mixture for 2 minutes longer to aerate it, until the Creme Mousseline is thick and forms soft peaks.
For the Sponge Cake:
- Grease and line the bottom of an eight inch springform pan with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using a whip attachment, beat the 2 eggs with the sugar for five minutes (set a timer, it’s longer than you expect!). The mixture will double in volume.
- Sift the flour into the egg mixture and fold in gently, using a rubber spatula.
- Pour the sponge cake batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the edge of the counter to remove large air bubbles.
- Bake until golden brown, roughly 20 minutes.
- Cool in the pan for five minutes, then remove to a wire rack to fully cool.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze to make slicing easier.
For the Simple Syrup:
- Bring the sugar and water to boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool slightly, then stir in the kirschwasser.
Assembling the Fraisier Cake Recipe:
- Using a serrated knife, trim the sponge down to 6 inches diameter (7 inches if you are using the 8 inch springform pan as your cake mold) and cut in half horizontally to make two thin layers. This will ensure that the sponge layer is not visible when you serve the cake. I’m emphasizing this point because if you look at the picture illustrating this post, you’ll see a classic example of “do what I say, not what I do.”
- Adjust your cake ring to be 7 inches in diameter.
- Line the cake ring with an acetate strip. If using an 8 inch springform pan, line with the bottom and sides with several pieces of plastic wrap to ensure easy removal. Place the cake ring on your serving plate, or on a cardboard cake board.
- Place the first sponge half in the bottom of the cake ring. Remember, your sponge should be slightly smaller than your cake ring.
- Brush with simple syrup.
- Hull the strawberries, then slice the strawberries in half, ensuring that all of your strawberries are roughly the same size. Line the perimeter of the cake ring with strawberries, with the cut side facing out. Chop any remaining strawberries into small pieces, leaving 2-3 strawberries for decoration.
- Put the creme mousseline in a piping bag fitted with a half inch tip. Pipe thoroughly in between each strawberry, leaving no gaps, then fill in the rest of the sponge cake up to the height of the tallest strawberry, with spirals of creme mousseline, starting at the center and working your way out. Reserve any remaining mousseline cream for decoration.
- Scatter the chopped strawberries over the top of the creme mousseline layer.
- Brush the simple syrup over the second piece of sponge cake and add it to the top of the creme mousseline. Push it in a little bit, so that you are sure that the creme mousseline is coming up to the top and the sponge cake is hidden by the tops of the strawberries. Brush additional simple syrup over the top, ensuring that the edges, which can be dry, are well saturated with the simple syrup.
- Heat of the jam in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Push the jam through a strainer into a small bowl, using the edge of a rubber spatula, ensuring that there are no clumps or seeds. Pour the melted jam over the top of the cake. Chill the assembled cake for at least one hour.
- Slice the strawberries into thin rounds. Put the remaining creme mousseline in a pastry bag with a small star tip and pipe some little decorative flourishes. I tinted the creme mousseline with some gel food coloring to have some color variation.
- If there are some wrinkles in your creme mousseline when you unmold it, smooth it out with an offset spatula or palette knife.
Affiliate Disclosure: As Amazon Associates, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases when you click on links embedded in this post.