There’s a new group I’m participating with on Facebook started by Kelly of Sass and Veracity called Baking on the 15th, which is just as it sounds, we bake a shared recipe, and then we post about it on the 15th of each month, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, our blog, and/or whatever social media portal we choose. Kelly got us started this first month with a Strawberry Choux Cake adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg. Think a giant cream puff with strawberry compote cream and Chantilly cream. In short, right up my ally!
So the “scary” part of this cake was the choux. Choux can be a bit tricky, though I’ve made it once before. Years ago when I was in Daring Bakers, we made eclairs, and that was my one and only venture in to anything in the choux family. My choux failed for the most part on that little adventure, and I never got back around to trying it again. I’ve thought about it a few times, but just never got up the nerve. I mean, who doesn’t like a good cream puff or eclair? I’m a big fan of eclairs, with freshly made pastry cream, drizzled in chocolate. To me, that’s the very definition of heaven on a plate!
This time my choux actually puffed! I mean look at this crazy beast of a puffy mountain:
It wasn’t soggy, it was just perfect. I was very pleased with how it turned out, though I did a double take when I first glanced in the oven. I was a bit afraid it was coming after us and planning to take over the world! 😉
One of the interesting things about this, though not surprising since this is a very European cake, was the weighed ingredients. I have a kitchen scale, but I had never used it for baking before. We used both cake flour and bread flour, and both were weighed. The butter and eggs were also weighed, though I will admit to measuring the eggs in a quart jar, instead of weighing them. I did weigh everything else though.
This cake had quite the ingredient volume when you think about it. I had never baked anything that ended up taking 16 extra large eggs before. Another ingredient that was new to me was ammonium carbonate. I made the mistake of smelling this and wished I hadn’t. I’m also a dough taster, and that wasn’t pleasant either, though once baked the taste faded.
Here is a look at what went in to the cake:
I don’t usually measure out things before I start and dirty separate dishes, but I felt like I need to, to keep things straight for this one.
I also taped the recipe up so I could keep referring back to it:
I lost count of how many times I read this bad boy through from beginning to end, and in bits and pieces as I went, but it was a lot. Choux is a bit complicated, but it’s worth it in the end.
The first step was making the choux and then letting it cool. While the choux was cooling, you started working on the elements of the cake. The first thing you started was the Strawberry Compote component of the cake, though you didn’t finish it until the cake was entirely cooled. You cook the strawberries with some sugar and lime juice and let it cool, then you add gelatin softened in water and whip some cream, and finally you add in the chilled strawberry mixture. This is the filling for your cake.
Once the choux is cooled, you cut rounds out of your baked choux. I ended up using the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan as my circle, and formed the cake inside the pan. I had 3 layers of coux, with the strawberry compote in between each layer, and on top. I let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so before the next step:
After the strawberry compote is set, you make a batch of Chantilly cream to “ice” and decorate the cake. Chantilly cream is basically just whipped cream with a little vanilla bean and extract thrown in for fun. I added in 1/4 a cup of sugar, instead of a tablespoon, because I liked my whipped cream a bit more sweetened that that.
Once it’s made, you spread the mixture over the layers of choux and strawberry compote cream. I piped a border around the bottom and the top, and then you spread out strawberries to decorate. I decided to cover the top of my cake with strawberry slices in a fan pattern on top, and a single whole strawberry in the middle. Then you take some of the left over choux bits and toast them until they crumble and sprinkle them over the top:
At this point you’re supposed to sprinkle it all with powdered sugar, but I forgot that step. I kind of wish I hadn’t though. I think it would have added an extra little pop.
Overall I really liked this. It’s not quite as sweet as our American desserts. It’s sort of fresh and light. I’d love to try it again and use blueberries or blackberries instead. I also added a little chocolate drizzle to one of the slices and it was a nice addition. This reminds me of something I saw in a bakery window in Paris. I’d definitely make it again!
Take a look at some of the other posts and their gorgeous cakes!
Next month I’m hosting, so stop by again and see what we bake next!