Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Berry Creme Fraiche Cake

I made this cake a while ago at the height of the berry season. Although the cake was made with buttermilk, and the layers then sprinkled with a berry syrup, this was not a very wet cake, and I would have preferred it to be more drenched with berries and berry juices. If you love berries like I do, go ahead and use more of them in the recipe. The tanginess of creme fraiche and the crunchiness of the poppy seeds worked well with the berries. This was a colorful and refreshing cake. It was enormous, too; a good choice for company. The fruit juices stain the filling as the cake stands, so it is best to serve it on the day of assembly. The recipe is from E. Luchetti's A Passion for Desserts.

For The Cake
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk (or use 1 tbs vinegar or lemon juice, add enough milk to make 1 c, let sit for 5 minutes and use)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c poppy seeds
For the Berry Filling
  • 1 pint blueberries (I used a mix of blackberries and blueberries)
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1/4 c sugar plus 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 c creme fraiche
  • 2/3 c whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare 2 9" cake pans by greasing the insides and fitting the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Beat sugar and butter on medium-high speed for 1 minute (3 minutes if using a hand-held mixer). Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.

Stir together buttermilk and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add half of the buttermilk to the batter. After buttermilk is incorporated, add half of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Repeat with the rest of the buttermilk and flour. Finally stir in the poppy seeds. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times while preparing the batter.

Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely and peel off the parchment circles.

Cut each cake in half horizantally making 4 cake layers. At this point, you can wrap and store the cake at room temperature for 2 days.

To make the filling, cook the blueberries and 1/4 c sugar in a small saucepan for 5 minutes. By this time, the sugar will have melted and the blueberries will have popped, releasing their juices. Cool to room temperature. You can make the filling 2 days in advance and keep refrigerated.

Whip together the creme fraiche, 2 tbs sugar and whipping cream until stiff enough to hold shape but still smooth.

Place a cake layer on your serving plate. Spread 1/4 of creme fraiche filling on the cake. Top with 1/4 of blueberry sauce and 1/4 of raspberries. (Although this is how it is outlined in the book, it made more sense to me to put the fruit first and then to use the cream filling. The pictures reflect my method.) Repeat with the remaining cake layers, filling and raspberries. For the top, use cream first and decorate with the remaining berries.

If not serving within an hour, refrigerate the cake. If refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Whip the cream filling before assembly and assemble the cake the day it is going to be eaten.