Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baking with Julia: French Strawberry Cake (and a delinquent Oasis Naan Bread)

Ok, so I've been playing hookey the last few weeks ;) I baked both my Oasis Naan bread and French Strawberry Cake on time... life just got in the way of posting about them!  Summer is in full swing here, we took a trip down to New York City (that turned out to be more of an adventure than we expected) and have a new niece expected any day now, so I've been keeping busy.

This past weekend was B's dad's birthday and Father's Day so I volunteered to make dessert. I have never, in my life, made a Genoise before (come to think of it, I'm not sure I've _eaten_ one before, either), so I read through the P & Q post for some pointers and dug right in.

It didn't *seem* difficult... until I got to the point where all the ingredients were added and I was folding gently to combine... and folding... and folding... and folding some more. Every time I though it was my last fold, another pocket of flour would appear, and I'd have to keep going, until I basically beat all the bubbles out of the damn thing. So frustrating!

I tried baking it anyway, and got a depressingly flat (and dense) cake as a result. That was the night before, so the next morning I was up early and tried again... this time being _super_ careful with the folding. I still ran into the same problem with the pockets of flour (what gives?!) but this attempt seemed to come out a little fluffier, at least, and I was able to get three thin layers out of it.

It is strawberry season here in Montreal, so I snagged some local Quebec berries at the market (they are smaller and sweeter than the usual grocery store variety) and let them soak with a bit of sugar and brandy over night. The juices added a welcome moistness to the cake layers and it all came together fairly easily, though I realized I need to consider getting a cake plate (if not a cake stand) for future attempts at all things cake-y... my dinner plates are the perfect size, but they are slightly concave which made frosting rather difficult :P

So here is the finished product, all ready for the candles to be blown out:

And here it is about 5 minutes later:

Not a crumb was left, so I'll put this one down as a success, though I found it a little on the heavy side. That might be entirely due to my clumsy folding, but I expected it to be a little bit more light and delicate. It seems we will be revisiting that recipe later on, so I guess I'll have more chances to practice! By the way, the recipe can be found here and here if you want to have a crack at it...

The naan bread was easier to make, but came out more pretty than tasty, in my opinion. I did some with green onions and salt (way too salty!), some with sesame seeds (my favorite) and some with an herb mix. They were a little on the dry side and the flavor just wasn't that impressive... except for the over-salted ones, they were fairly bland. And man, these things do *not* keep well, as the recipe warns. They were fine the evening they were baked, and were on their way to being hockey pucks by the next day. Doubtful I will be trying this one again... for the effort to end product ratio, I would sooner make focaccia than these guys. But hey, at least they looked nice!


  1. I love that the cake disappeared in 5 minutes, I had to chain myself to the sofa to stop myself from dipping strawberries into the filling ! Nice job

  2. Yes, I've been meaning to buy myself a cake plate-thingie, too... but it's one more thing to find space for in the kitchen. For now, I'll just have to live with the concave dinner plates at my house.

    Must've been delicious to disappear so quickly!

  3. Everything looks lovely - and isn't it the best feeling when food disappears into thin air :-)

  4. Glad it was a hit! I love it when the plate comes home empty.