Cream Cake with Rosemary Pears and Strawberries

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    8 to 10

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking

Kitchen of Light

By Andreas Viestad

Published 2003

  • About

CREAM CAKE IS MEANT TO BE THE KIND OF CAKE YOU CAN EAT A LOT OF WITHOUT FEELING FULL. TO ACHIEVE THAT, YOU HAVE TO CREATE A VERY LIGHT SPONGE CAKE. IN SUMMER, WHEN STRAWBERRIES ARE AT THEIR BEST, YOU CAN MAKE THE CAKE WITH FRESH BERRIES ONLY, BUT THE REST OF THE YEAR, IT IS BETTER TO RELY ON A COMBINATION OF FRESH OR FROZEN BERRIES AND CANNED FRUIT. I DOUSE THE SPONGE CAKE WITH A COMBINATION OF CALVADOS AND SYRUP FROM THE PEARS, BUT ORANGE OR STRAWBERRY JUICE IS JUST AS GOOD.

Ingredients

For the Sponge Cake

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For the Filling

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half
  • One 15-ounce can pears in light syrup, drained, syrup reserved
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • ½ cup superfine sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados or eau-de-vie (optional)
  • ¼ cup strawberry or orange juice (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch nonstick round cake pan or springform pan with the butter.

To make the sponge cake, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and beat into the egg mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites as gently as possible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes before you remove it from the pan, then let it cool completely on a rack.

To make the filling, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the back of a knife, and reserve for later. Cut the pears into thin slices. Set aside a few of the nicest slices for decoration (brush them with lemon juice to prevent discoloring).

In a nonstick skillet, combine the rest of the pears, the vanilla bean (not the seeds), and the rosemary and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the pears start to lightly brown. (If the pears dry out completely, add a little of the reserved syrup.) Remove the vanilla bean and discard. Set aside to cool.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until stiff. Add the sugar. Transfer approximately one-third of the cream to two small bowls, dividing it evenly.

Reserve 8 of the nicest strawberries for decoration. Puree two-thirds of the remaining berries in a blender, or push them through a sieve using the back of a spoon. Coarsely chop the rest of the berries and mix with the puree in a bowl. Gently fold the strawberry mixture into one of the small batches of whipped cream. If necessary, add more sugar to taste, but the mixture should still have some gentle tartness left.

Stir the vanilla seeds into the other small batch of whipped cream.

With a long, thin knife, cut the cake into three layers. Place the bottom layer of the cake on a large serving plate. Soak the cake with some of the syrup from the pears. Sprinkle with the Calvados, if using. Arrange the pears on top. Spread the vanilla cream over the pears. Add the second layer of sponge cake. Soak the cake with strawberry juice, if using. Spread the strawberry cream over the layer. Place the final layer on top. Frost the entire cake with a thick layer of cream. Decorate the cake with the reserved strawberries and slices of pears. Serve immediately.

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