My 1000th Recipe!

My 1000th Recipe! Recipe

Today is a very special day for PhamFatale.com! It seems like just yesterday that I launched the website and I can hardly believe that we’ve already made it to the 1000th recipe. Well technically, this is the 1001st recipe but I couldn't resist baking a cake to belatedly celebrate the occasion. It's a fairly simple cake, made of layers of mascarpone custard, chopped strawberries and vanilla frosting. 

As I've said in the past, food is an ephemeral art form and it's easy to forget what you've made and what you've eaten. PhamFatale.com has become a living record of the meals I've prepared for, and with, my friends and family, and I've had such a blast sharing my daily culinary adventures with all of you. So many good memories are preserved in these web pages and this year has been chock full of them. It has truly been a pleasure to learn from, share tips with and otherwise interact with food lovers from all around the world. Although I owe my success to all of my faithful foodies, there is one food lover in particular who is especially near and dear to my heart. I'd like to give a special thank you to my friend Carole, whom I met after she sent me an email when I was featured in the San Jose Mercury News several years ago. Ever since, she has helped edit all the recipes that I've posted as well as my upcoming cookbook, Haute Potato, which comes out this December. Carole has a great eye for detail and a wonderful culinary sensibility to boot. I never would have dreamed that meeting over coffee and talking about our passion for food would turn into such a special friendship, and for that I am so grateful. 

Again, thank you all for your support. I've been pretty overwhelmed with messages on Facebook, Twitter and your private messages, but I promise I'll make it my top priority to respond to all your lovely comments. Please be assured that I enjoy reading every single one of them, and they always fill me with so much joy. In fact, my morning rituals couldn't be complete without your wonderful messages, my workout routine and of course a special kiss to my baby daughter!

Ingredients

Yields: 10 servings

2¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons baking powder
4 small eggs
2 small egg yolks
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 cup goat milk (or regular cow's milk)
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
10 strawberries, half of them chopped
1 tablespoon strawberry jelly (or any fruit preserves)
1 cup mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
2½ cups heavy whipping cream, cold
⅛ teaspoon red food coloring powder (see tips)


Directions

For the cake sheets:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease 2 (10" round) cake pans (you could use any other shape you have available in your kitchen) with butter and dust with a little flour. Remove any excess flour. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with 1¾ cups superfine sugar. Add one egg at a time (4 whole eggs total). Whisk well. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Alternately add the dry ingredients and milk until the batter is formed. Add crème fraîche. Mix until smooth. 

Pour the cake batter into the 2 molds . Even them out using a spreader or by gently lifting the molds and dropping them several times.

Bake the cakes for 10 minutes at 350°F, then lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes (Time will vary depending on the size of the pan).  The texture of the cake should be very soft and moist. A skewer or a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Unmold the cakes on cooling racks and let cool to room temperature.


Making strawberry custard filling:

In a mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone cheese to soften it. 

In a small stainless-steel mixing bowl, whisk 2 egg yolks with 2 tablespoons superfine sugar until the texture thickens. Make a "double boiler" (a pot filled with hot water, covered with a piece of cloth) and place the bowl filled with whisked eggs on top. Slowly add the strawberry jelly; continue whisking the eggs energetically for about 3-4 minutes. Check the temperature of the eggs; they should feel warm to the touch. Remove from the double boiler. Continue whisking for about 5 minutes. Make sure the eggs are whisked for a long time, so the mousse is light and airy. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove any solids. The mixture should fall like a ribbon of sauce when you lift the whisk. Slowly add the mascarpone to the egg mixture, adding just a little at a time. Add the red food coloring and 1 teaspoon each of vanilla extract and strawberry extract (if using). Mix well.

Let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In another mixing bowl, whip ½ cup cream (at low speed) for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Add the rest of the superfine sugar. Increase to maximum speed and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes, until it forms soft peaks. 

Pour ⅓ of the whipped cream and the chopped strawberries into the mascarpone cream mixture. Mix well using a silicone spatula. Pour in the rest of the whipped cream; gently fold the whipped cream to get an airy mousse.


For the vanilla frosting: In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining whipping cream with powdered sugar until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.


Assembly time:

Make sure the cakes have cooled completely.

Place one sheet of cake onto a cake stand, placing 2 rectangles of parchment paper beneath the cake (for easy release later).

Cover the cake with a thick layer of strawberry custard filling and smooth it out using a spreader; this acts as the 'glue' when you place the second sheet of cake on top.

Reserve about half the amount of vanilla frosting in the refrigerator. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the vanilla frosting. Level with a spatula.

Plastic-wrap the cake and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. The fat from the cream may pick up some other food odor from the refrigerator if the cake isn't sealed properly. 

When you're ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Add the reserved vanilla frosting. Remove and discard the parchment papers. 

Garnish with whole strawberries.

Bon appétit!


Tips

Sifting the dry ingredients helps to get rid of lumps of flour and also to aerate the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all of your baking so you get a moist result.

For an adult version, you could drizzle a little Brandy over the strawberries prior to adding them to the custard filling.

I used freshly laid eggs and they were a bit small, so you might adjust the quantity accordingly.

Goat milk has a different taste than regular cow's milk. Both the goat milk and crème fraîche add moisture to the cake and pair wonderfully with strawberries. You could replace them with coconut milk or even heavy cream.

FYI: 1 cup of mascarpone cheese weighs 8 ounces and ¾ cup of butter (12 tablespoons) is equivalent to 1½ sticks of butter.

You can find food coloring powder in most Indian markets.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 13, 2012.


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