Daring to Make Frasier Cake
Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine. Turns out Frasier cake is not named after one of my favorite TV shows about a fancy psychologist named Frasier. It’s actually just a fancy French dessert.
This was also my second Daring Bakers challenge. The first one, making baklava, did not go smoothly. This was my chance for a comeback, much like Frasier (the TV show) was Kelsey Grammer’s comeback after Cheers.
Before this challenge, I had never heard of Frasier cake. When I found out it was basically a chiffon cake, with cream and strawberries in the middle, I was thrilled. I always have wanted to make chiffon cake. It seemed similar to angel food cake, which I’ve made before.
Then I discovered the challenge didn’t stop with the cake. There was also pastry cream and simple syrup to make. Then I decided to make my own almond paste too, for which I think I should get extra credit. The almond paste was the icing on the cake.
It took about a week to make all these components and put the cake together. Unlike my first Daring Bakers challenge, the results were even edible. Ken wouldn’t touch the baklava, but he wouldn’t stop eating this cake.
For the record, I did make the cake by the challenge deadline. I was just late in writing this post about it.
The Moral of the Story
This story comes with two morals:
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
- Better late than never.
About the Recipes
I used four different recipes to make this cake: 1) Orange Chiffon Cake, 2) Orange Simple Syrup, 3) Vanilla and Orange Pastry Cream, and 4) Almond Paste. For each recipe, which are noted at the end of this post, you will notice a theme. We had a bag of oranges in the refrigerator at the time of the challenge. All but one recipe, the almond paste, included the featured ingredient.
The Cast of Characters
This baking game has four quarters: 1) making the cake, 2) making the simple syrup, 3) making the pastry cream, and 4) making the almond paste. The play-by-play breaks down each quarter.
First, make the cake.
Second, make the simple syrup.
Third, make the pastry cream.
Fourth, make the almond paste.
Now for the grand finale; assemble the cake.
- About the chiffon cake: I wouldn’t change a thing from the Orange Chiffon Cake recipe in The Fannie Farmer Baking book. I love that book.
- About the simple syrup: It really is simple. I started with the recipe provided for the challenge, which was 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar, and replaced the water with orange juice.
- About the pastry cream: Mine wasn’t as firm as I would have liked. It ran a little when I first cut into the cake. The pastry cream recipe provided with the challenge included gelatin, while the orange one I found on Food Network did not. I think the gelatin may help it set up better.
- About the almond paste: Blanching the almonds to make your own paste takes time, but it’s worth it. If you are up for the challenge, here is a great tutorial for making your own almond paste from About.com.
- About the strawberries: When it came time to put the strawberries in the center of my cake, I macerated them in orange juice first to keep with my orange theme.