This cake came about only because I wanted to empty my fridge of the following: 1 1/2 pints of disappointingly-bland Californian strawberries, 1/2 bowl of milk chocolate cream waiting to be whipped and 1/3 cup of raspberries, which at S$8.95 a box, were too precious to let go to waste.
With these ingredients in mind, I flipped through my collection of cookbooks for some inspiration and came across a recipe for French Strawberry Cake in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia. It sounded like a delightfully light cake, which was perfect after a weekend of sinfully rich chocolate desserts.
My only gripe with the recipe was that it called for a genoise sponge cake. I’ve always found genoise sponge cakes tricky to master. One turn too few of the spatula and the flour doesn’t get worked in properly; one turn too many and the batter becomes too fluid and the cake won’t rise. In my opinion, even macaron batter is a little more forgiving than genoise batter.
Despite my misgivings, I forged ahead with the Perfect Genoise recipe from the same book. The first attempt was a none-too-surprising failure; I’d overfolded the batter. I managed to salvage the top 1/3 of the cake, which was still surprisingly light and airy, and discarded the dense bottom 2/3 of the cake. The second cake, on the other hand, turned out perfect.
The result was a creamy yet light cake with 4 layers of genoise, 2 layers of cream and mashed strawberries (soaked overnight in sugar) and 1 thin layer of chocolate whipped cream. I even attempted piping with whipped cream - something I’d done only once before in my entire life.
Will I make this cake again? Most definitely, but perhaps I ought to get more practice with the genoise sponge first.