Double decker buttermilk Fraisier cake

I do love myself a good fraisier cake, or a fraisier dessert of any kind, honestly! For those unfamiliar with the term, a fraisier cake is just a strawberry cake, usually featuring two layers of vanilla sponge with strawberries surrounding it and a vanilla cream between the layers. I have made a couple in the past, and could’ve sworn that I posted a recipe for it, but turns out I hadn’t, so here we are, posting a recipe for it now! Usually the cakes are made with two layers of cake, as I had mentioned, but for this particular recipe, I made it with three, effectively turning it into a double decker cake. My rationale for doing this is that it would look even prettier, and would give the strawberries even more of an opportunity to be put on display!

For the cake, I wanted to go a little lighter and more summery, so I went with a buttermilk-infused vanilla chiffon cake. Buttermilk is a great ingredient for baking, since it creates a lighter, moister cake than from using just regular milk – the cultures in buttermilk help with leavening the crumb butter and the acidity from it works with the gluten to better retain the moisture from your other wet ingredients like oil and eggs. You can make buttermilk from scratch with just adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of whole milk. With the other components, we have a Bavarian cream, which is my go-to for a lot of fluffy, lighter cakes, and strawberries that are glazed in a simple syrup. The top is adorned with a strawberry gelee as well, just to give it that nice, shiny red finish.

For the buttermilk chiffon cake:
4 egg whites
1/2 cups granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

In a bowl, start by whipping your egg whites with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla extract to stiff peaks. In another bowl, whisk together your egg yolks with the remaining sugar, and slowly stream in the canola oil and buttermilk until combined. Sift your flour and baking powder into your egg yolk mixture, then fold into that your whipped egg whites. Pour the batter into a parchment-lined half sheet tray and spread it evenly. Bake the cake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool the cake before removing from the parchment and cutting into three 6-inch circular layers. You might need to make one of the three layers out of cake scraps, depending on how large of a sheet tray you used.

For the Bavarian cream:
1 teaspoon gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix gelatin with water. Place into a pot with the milk and bring to a simmer. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with sugar and salt. Once your gelatin is fully dissolved into the milk, pour half of it into the egg yolks while whisking the egg yolks. Once that milk is incorporated, pour the egg yolk-milk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk and whisk on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Pour the egg mixture through a strainer to remove your lumps, then allow it to fully cool down to room temperature. Whip heavy cream with vanilla to stiff peaks. Fold the cream into the custard. Keep this at room temperature until time to assemble.

For the soak:
1 cup milk
a pinch of salt

Mix together. Keep refrigerated until time to use.

For the simple syrup:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Bring to a simmer. Once the sugar is dissolved, pour the syrup into another container and allow it to cool down completely before using.

For assembly:
Roughly 1 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled

Line a 6-inch ring mold with acetate. Place down the scrappiest layer of your cake, then pour on 1/3 of your milk soak. Slice strawberries in half, and brush the sides that were cut with the simple syrup – this guarantees that they will not dry out. Press the syrup-brushed flat sides against the acetate. Pour in 1/2 of your Bavarian cream. Optionally, you can pour 1/4 cup of diced strawberries into the center of the cake, on top of the Bavarian cream as well. Repeat these steps with the second layer. For the third layer, start with the cake and soak. Then transfer the cake into the freezer first.

For the gelee:
1/3 cup diced strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon agar agar

Bring all of your ingredients, minus the agar, to a simmer first. Once the strawberries are completely soft, pour everything through a sieve, pressing to release as much liquid as possible from the strawberries. Pour that liquid back into a pot and heat up with the agar. Once your agar is fully dissolved into the liquid, pour the liquid onto the top of the cake, spreading it into a flat and even layer. The agar will set up rather quickly, so move fast when doing this. Keep the cake in the freezer for at least 2 hours before unmolding and serving.

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