Right, I know it’s a strong statement to say this is the ‘best strawberry cake recipe,’ and I don’t normally use words like ‘best’ or ‘most wonderful’ when describing my recipes, but this really is the BEST strawberry cake recipe ever! It’s a bit of a showstopper too, and although it requires a bit of assembly to look this pretty, it’s also really easy to make!
I know, I know, this cake has strawberries as the star ingredient but the strawberry season is over… Sacrilege! Although I normally try to go for fruit that is in season, le fraisier always used to be the cake I requested for my birthday (January!) when I was growing up in France, so I went for it when I decided to bake my birthday cake this year. I have made it again a couple of times since, and British strawberries are cheap at the moment, so I had to buy some and make a strawberry cake again, didn’t I?
I did ponder for a moment whether to keep my best strawberry cake recipe for myself and just share my photos, but it was just too good to keep to myself. I went for organic strawberries as they taste so good.
Since Organic September is in full swing, I also started using organic milk and eggs and I kid you not: there is a difference between organic and non-organic products. Just try for yourself! The better the ingredients you start with, the better your cake! Make sure you use full fat cream as it won’t turn into whipped cream if you use reduced fat cream.
Picture this: lots and lots of sweet, juicy strawberries delicately placed between two thin slices of light sponge and held together with a fluffy vanilla cream. Top this with a thin layer of marzipan and you’ll end up with heaven on a plate. Seriously, I kid you not. This cake is sweet, but not overly so, refreshing with its cold cream and strawberries and the sponge is so light and fluffy it’s like a cloud that melts in your mouth.
Although there are a few steps in my strawberry cake recipe to create the perfect fraisier, don’t be put off by it. The recipe doesn’t require any particular skills. It’s also perfect if you like to plan ahead as it needs to be made the day before you intend to eat it. As it sets in the fridge the flavour of the strawberries and the vanilla infuse the whole cake.
Just make sure you read all steps before you get started and I promise you it will not disappoint! You have to see it like a construction project. You will start by making the various components separately (syrup, sponge, whipped cream, crème patissière, etc.) and you will then put together those elements before you build the best strawberry cake ever!
If you are not a fan of marzipan, you can go for sugar paste or royal icing. You can also swap strawberries for raspberries, kiwi, apricot or any other fruit that takes your fancy. It won’t be a fraisier (it literally means ‘strawberry cake’) but it will be a gorgeous fruit cake nonetheless.
The Best Strawberry Cake Recipe: Le Fraisier
- 500 g fresh strawberries
- Optional: extra strawberries, crushed pistachios, mini meringues and macarons to decorate
For the syrup
- 150 g caster sugar
- 150 ml water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- optional: 20ml Kirsch
For the vanilla cream
- 250 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 medium free range egg yolks at room temperature
- 50 g caster sugar
- 40 g potato flour or corn flour
- 2 gelatine leaves or 1g agar agar if vegetarian
- 200 ml full fat double cream
For the génoise (cake layers)
- 4 medium free range eggs at room temperature
- 120 g caster sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 100 g plain flour
Start by making the syrup.
Place the water, sugar and vanilla in a small pan over a medium heat.
- Leave to boil for 3 minutes then set aside to cool. If using Kirsch, add it in when the mixture has reached room temperature.
Next, make the crème patissière.
- Gently warm the milk with the split vanilla pod in a large pan.
- In the meantime, beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until fluffy and light in colour.
- Add the potato flour or corn flour in increments and mix until smooth.
- Add the gelatine or agar agar to the milk and leave over a warm heat for a minute, mixing to dissolve it.
- Slowly pour the milk mixture over the beaten sugar and eggs, mixing constantly.
Transfer back to the pan and place over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the crème patissière reaches the consistency of custard. Don't worry if it is lumpy: you can simply sieve the mixture into a bowl and break lumps with the back of a spoon.
Leave to cool at room temperature in a clean bowl and cover with cling film (directly in contact with the crème patissière to avoid a ‘skin’ forming on top.
- Whisk the double cream until it turns into thick whipped cream (works best if the cream is really cold).
- Fold the whipped cream into the cold crème patissière and decant into a piping bag before placing in the fridge.
Make the génoise (cake layers)
- Preheat the oven at 190°C (gas mark 5 / 375°F).
- Separate the eggs and whisk the whites in a large bowl until firm.
- Add a third of the sugar and whisk to incorporate.
- Beat the eggs with the vanilla and the rest of the sugar.
Add in the melted butter and the flour (sifted).
- Add a third of the whisked eggs and fold gently. Repeat until all whisked egg whites have been incorporated.
- Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven for 10 minutes. To check the génoise is cooked, gently press the middle with a finger. If it ‘bounces’ back and has a nice, golden colour, it is ready. If your finger sinks in and leaves a big mark, give it another two minutes in the oven.
- As soon as you take the génoise out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the cake.
Finally, ‘build’ your fraisier
- Cut two circles of génoise using the base of your springform cake tin as a guide.
- Place the first circle of génoise at the bottom of the cake tin.
- But the strawberries in half lengthways and place them over the génoise against the cake tin and in concentric circles until you reach the middle.
- Fill the rest of the space with crème patissière.
Cover with the second génoise circle and add a thin layer of marzipan (make it as thin as you can using a rolling pin).
- Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Do you love strawberries as much as I do? Check these: