Friday, July 20, 2012

Mini Pistachio Fraisiers

A couple of months ago, I went on a baking cookbook buying spree.  I had every intention of going through each of the recipes as well as sitting down and reading the mother of all pastry books – "The French Culinary Institute’s The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts" (the content is as long as its name).  These books have been on the shelf collecting dust and so I am now on a self imposed book buying ban.  Although as of last weekend, I can now proudly say that one of the cook books has been put to use! I don’t think it quite justifies lifting the ban as yet, but we may just be getting there! 
 

For some time now, I’ve been eyeing this fraisier recipe in the ever so pretty Laduree Sucre book.  In fact, the day after hosting our afternoon tea, I was so keen to attempt the fraisier but I was way too exhausted and settled instead on whipping up my own chocolate concoction using left over ingredients from the afternoon tea. Ta-da!  
The base is the chocolate joconde sponge brushed with a raspberry coulis and filled with chocolate cream.

Anyway, I digress.  The components of the pistachio fraisier include an almond genoise sponge and a pistachio mousseline crème, two things I’d never attempted before.   

The genoise sponge requires the eggs to have the living daylights whipped out of them over a bain marie to give the necessary volume.  I knew this already but yet I stupidly proceeded to do this with a hand whisk and after 10 minutes of sweating over the stove (although my arm muscles are getting somewhat more impressive), C came into the kitchen and said, why don’t you use the electric mixer? I seem to be experiencing more and more of these smack in the head moments and as much as I’d love to blame it on the sleep deprivation and motherhood, they’re becoming more and more frequent that I’m beginning to think it’s JUST me! So having the electric mixer made things so much easier, why didn’t I think of it to begin with?!  

 
As the genoise has no chemical leavener, you have to be ever so delicate with the mixture making sure not to knock out any more air bubbles than necessary when folding.  This means no over-folding, making sure the cake pan goes straight into the oven as having it sit out on the bench for a moment longer than necessary can cause deflation, and ensuring you don’t take it out of the oven too early (again, this can cause deflation).  It’s quite a technical piece of work!.

The genoise is known to be a rather dry sponge which is why it’s normally paired with a simple syrup.  The Laduree recipe combines kirsch and raspberry liqueur into the simple syrup.  I seem to be terrified of "soaking" sponges in syrup (for fear that it will collapse with all the liquid) and I under soaked the genoise. I figured that the sponge would absorb some moisture from the cream and strawberries, however it's a rather sturdy cake and I can afford to be more generous with the syrup next time!  
 

As for the pistachio mousseline crème, well this is just a pastry cream with the addition of butter.  It’s like a lighter version of a buttercream (as in airier, not skinnier)! I actually really enjoyed the taste of this as the buttercreams I’ve had in the past are way too buttery for my liking.  
As for the inside of the fraisier, it’s filled with fresh strawberries, topped with mousseline cream, another disk of genoise and a final layer of mousseline creme. I will definitely have to make this cake again in the summer to have with a glass of Pimms! Yum!





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