Cake Walk

Strawberries in a Cloud (Blitz Torte)

June 22, 2016

I am a strawberry girl. I eat strawberries out of hand, make pies & jams with them, macerate them, even grill and pepper them. So imagine my delight at finding myself  kneedeep in Pete Ambrose’s organic strawberry patch on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. Pete’s been harvesting the luscious red hearts since JANUARY (!) –unfathomable riches to this Midwesterner. He seemed bemused by my marveling, but humored me, and together we worked our way up a few rows, quietly chatting and plucking until I had plenty to take home. This sweet, many-splendored cake is one fancy way I “do” strawberries. It’s really a vintage-recipe blitz torte (minus the traditional almonds & cinnamon) elevated with clouds of whipped cream and, or course,  a heap of strawberries. 

Like other blitz tortes, this cake puts the egg yolks in the base layer and the whites in the meringue. Baked together, the layers achieve loads of textural interest: rich, spongy base; airy/chewy meringue.  Vanilla pastry cream goes in the middle; berries and cream up on top.  I add gelatin to the whipped cream as a stabilizer, so it doesn’t weep. Because there’s sugar in every other layer, I don’t sugar the berries at all. For best results? Assemble the cake right before service.  And for more strawberry deliciousness, try our Strawberries & Cream Fridge Cake, or, our Mile-High Strawberry Pie!

Strawberries in a Cloud (Fruit & Cream Blitz Torte)
Serves 12
This sweet, many-splendored cake is one fancy way I "do" strawberries. It’s really a vintage-recipe blitz torte elevated with clouds of whipped cream and, or course, a heap of strawberries.
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Ingredients
  1. Blitz Torte
  2. 1 cup cake flour
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  6. 1 1/4 cups sugar
  7. 4 eggs, separated
  8. 2 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste (substitute vanilla extract if need be)
  9. 3 Tbsp whole milk
  10. Vanilla Pastry Cream
  11. 3 Tbsp cake flour
  12. 1/3 cup sugar
  13. 1/8 tsp salt
  14. 1 cup whole milk
  15. 1 egg, beaten
  16. 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste (substitute vanilla extract if need be)
  17. 1/2 stick butter
  18. Stabilized Whipped Cream
  19. 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  20. 1 sheet silver strength gelatin
  21. 6 tsp cold water
  22. 2 cups heavy cream
  23. 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  24. Fresh Strawberries
  25. 4 cups, hulled and sliced right before service
Instructions
  1. Make cake: Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. In bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar until fluffy. Add the four egg yolks and vanilla paste and beat at medium speed until incorporated. Add milk and beat again. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix just until no streaks show.  Grease two 9-inch baking pans and insert rounds of parchment paper in the bottoms. Spread cake batter (it will be stiff) into the pans. Set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, whip egg whites until foamy; gradually add the remaining 3/4 cups of sugar and continue to whip until stiff and glossy. Preheat oven to 350. Set rack in the center of the oven. Spread meringue over the unbaked cake batter in the pans. Place pans on oven rack and bake for 30 minutes at 350. While cake layers bake, make whipped cream and pastry cream.
  2. Make pastry cream: In a double boiler over boiling water, combine flour, sugar, salt milk and beaten egg and whisk until thick. Stir in vanilla paste and butter. Remove pastry cream to a bowl, press plastic wrap over surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate.
  3. Make stabilized whipped cream: Chill mixer bowl and whisk attachment. Cut gelatin sheet and sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water. Allow to stand until thick. In a small pan over low hear, melt gelatin, stirring constantly. Remove to a bowl and let stand. Remove 1/4 cup of the cream to a separate bowl. In chilled bowl of stand mixer, whip remaining 1 3/4 cups cream with superfine sugar until soft peaks form. Stir the reserved 1/4 cup of cream into the warm liquid gelatin and immediately pour into the soft-peaked whipped cream; continue whipping until cream is whipped firm.
  4. Assemble cake: When ready to serve, place one layer of cake on serving platter, spread with pastry cream, top with remaining cake layer. Top with most of the whipped cream. Arrange sliced fresh strawberries on top of cloud of cream. Serve remaining cream and any extra strawberries with slices of the cake.
Notes
  1. If you are lucky enough to have a source for picking your own strawberries, or wild strawberries, be sure to pick a few perfect tiny ones, with little tendrils and leaves intact, to use as garnish on top of the cake
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