Nature’s perfect timing!
Strawberries and Cream… Strawberry Shortcake…Fresh Strawberries with Angel Food Cake or Sponge Cake …so many ways to usher in the summer season with strawberries.
The strawberry’s potential to make the perfect dessert is taken to a delectable level with a Frasier Torte. A Frasier Torte is the french interpretation of our Strawberry Shortcake. Actually, the original name is Fraisier Torte (from the french word ‘fraise‘, meaning ‘strawberry’). Most Frasier Tortes use a basic sponge cake as a base, topped with a layer of fresh juicy strawberries … and then there are a variety of fillings and creams that could be used to blanket the berries to complete the experience. Inspiration from two Canadian Chefs, Bonnie Stern and Anna Olson, resulted in the following interpretation of a Frasier Torte.
Tips to make a great Frasier Torte:
- Fresh in-season strawberries are required! Using out-of-season berries that are pulpy, white and tasteless will result in a disappointing experience. That being said, the freshness of the berries makes this dessert quite delicate and very time-sensitive. It is best enjoyed the day it is assembled.
- For the layer of berries on top of the crust, choose whole small-to-medium sized berries of a uniform size.
- The crust is a basic nut pastry. A 10-inch springform pan is ideal for the quantities given; however, if you just have a 9-inch pan, you may want to cut back a little on the amount that you use. The baked crust can be made ahead of time….even frozen.
- Adding a layer of sponge cake bits on top of the nut pastry helps with absorbing juices from the berries so that the crust does not get soggy. I used 3 of the small sponge pastry cups (packaged) that you can usually find at the bake shop.
- For the berries on top of the filling, use sliced strawberries. Coat the berries with a thin layer of melted fruit jelly, such as apple, seedless raspberry/strawberry, or red currant jelly.
Happy Summer 2015!
Prep Time: 30 minutes Baking/Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Number of Servings: 10-12
Nut Crust Ingredients:
1 cup (150 g) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (85 mL) chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup (115 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
3 small sponge dessert cups (about 50 grams), torn into small pieces
2-3 cups of fresh strawberries, uniform size, hulled
Lemon Cream Filling:
1 envelope (7 grams) unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup (60 mL) cold water
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1.5 mL) salt
2/3 cup (185 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon zest, very finely grated
1 3/4 cups (430 mL) heavy cream (30%)
110 g (4 ounces) plain cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup (85 mL) granulated sugar
1-2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60 mL) fruit jelly (apple, seedless raspberry or strawberry, or red currant)
1/3 cup (85 mL) chopped toasted hazelnuts
1: Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place flour, sugar and chopped nuts in a food processor bowl. Pulse to combine. Drop in the butter chunks, pulsing until it starts to come together. Add the egg yolk and lemon juice. Pulse just until it comes together into a ball. Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to fit in the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan. Alternatively, the ball of dough can be placed directly into the pan and then press on it, by hand, to fit the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let cool. When the crust has cooled, sprinkle the bits of sponge cake over the surface of the crust.
2. Prepare the berries. Find 10-12 berries of uniform size. Cut them in half and place them (the flat cut side pressed against the side of the pan) all around the circumference of the inside of the pan. Arrange the remaining berries, left whole and with the tips pointing up, to fit the inside of the pan – on top of the sponge cake bits. The entire surface of the crust will be covered with whole berries. Set aside as the Lemon Cream is prepared.
3. Prepare Lemon Cream: In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Allow it to ‘bloom’ for a few minutes. Over very low heat, gently warm the water until gelatin is dissolved. Do not boil.
In a medium saucepan, place egg yolks with the sugar (1/2 cup) and salt. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in lemon juice and zest. Cook, over low-medium heat, until mixture thickens (constant stirring) and just barely comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the dissolved gelatin. Set aside.
Beat the softened cream cheese with the sugar (1/3 cup) until light. Gently fold in the cooled lemon cream.
In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the lemon cream mixture.
4. Pour Lemon Cream over the layer of berries in the pan. Smooth out the top, gently pressing down a bit to ensure that the lemon cream has covered all of the berries, and has seeped into the spaces between the berries. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
5. Prepare topping: Combine the remaining sliced berries with the melted jelly.
6. Assemble the Torte: Run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the torte. Remove the sides of the pan and place the torte on a serving platter.
Gently scoop some of the glazed berries onto the centre of the torte, mounding them as you wish. Sprinkle the edges with the toasted hazelnuts.
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