Thursday, May 12, 2016

Springtime Strawberry Torte

Layers of genoise, strawberry puree and créme mousseline for this springtime dessert.
For a recent dinner gathering, I wanted a special dessert to complement the main courses of roasted lamb and chicken. Something pretty but not too sweet or heavy. This strawberry torte, with layers of genoise, créme mousseline and a thick strawberry puree, was perfect.

The cake is not particularly difficult, but does require a bit of time, however, the components can be made in stages and ahead of time, so that gives you some options. I first made the cake layers as a 9 x 9 inch square and cut rectangular pieces from it. The second time round, I used the same size cake layers, but use biscuit cutters and formed several little cakes, which I think are fun. This enabled me to use three layers of genoise instead of two.

A créme mousseline takes pastry cream one step further by adding butter. (I know.) It is nothing but luscious and if you’ve never made it before, you really should add this to your cooking life list.

Créme mousseline is a wonderful thing.

For the strawberry filling, a tad of plain gelatin thickens the mixture. A thickened fruit puree is more likely to stay in place so that when the cake is cut, those pretty layers are still intact. There’s also a touch of Grand Marnier because it complements strawberries so well.

So, here are the components and directions below. I hope you give this a try. It was a hit with our dinner guests.

Springtime Strawberry Torte

1 batch genoise
1 batch créme mousseline using this recipe.
1 batch strawberry puree
1 batch sweetened whipped cream

Strawberry Puree

1/2 cup of hot water, but not boiling
2 t. plain gelatin (I used Great Lakes brand)
10 oz bag of frozen strawberries, preferably organic
2 T powdered sugar, more or less to taste
pinch of salt
1-2 T Grand Marnier (optional)
dash of lemon juice

In a large blender or food processor, (I used a Ninja), add the water and gelatin, blending until the gelatin is dissolved. Then add the strawberries and blend until they are fully pureed. At this point, the mixture will thicken considerably because the gelatin will meet with the cold berries. Add the powdered sugar, pinch of salt and Grand Marnier. Taste to see if the mixture is sweet enough. If not, add a bit more sugar. It can be used now, or refrigerated for later.

Almond Genoise
Modified from a recipe at Chef de Cuisine
4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1 T sugar
1/2 c. almond flour, finely ground
1/3 c. white spelt flour
1 1/2 T. butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans with parchment, buttering the insides and dusting with flour.

In a double boiler, mix whole eggs and sugar over hot simmering water. Beat with an electric mixer until triple in volume and mixture is a light yellow color.

In a separate bowl (make sure the bowl and beaters are perfectly clean without a trace of fat), beat egg whites and cream of tartar to form soft peaks. Add 1 T. sugar. Fold egg whites into the whole egg mixture. Fold in ground almonds, flour and butter. Distribute batter between the two pans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown. Cool in pans, then remove to a rack.
Whipped Cream
1 c. heavy cream
2 T. powdered sugar
Whip the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. It's now ready to spread over the cake.


To assemble the torte, place one layer of genoise on your serving plate. Then spread a generous amount of pastry cream over the top. Then add a layer of strawberry puree. Finish with a cake layer. Press down gently to ensure the layers all make contact with each other.

Refrigerate cake for an hour to ensure everything is nicely chilled. Then cover the entire cake with sweetened whipped cream. You can serve it now, or refrigerate for a couple hours to let everything settle, which is what I did. Enjoy!

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