Fraisia

Fraisia is synonymous with strawberries. This European-style strawberry shortcake combines a filling of freshly whipped cream, white chocolate and juicy, sweet strawberries with a buttery, tender cake. It is topped with the almond-flavored marzipan.

Ingredients

Filling

  • ¼ cup strawberry preserves
  • cups (10 ounces) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces white chocolate, finely grated
  • 2 ½ cups (25 to 30) fresh strawberries, hulled

Cornstarch

Decorating Equipment

8-inch stiff cardboard round, cake decorating turntable, small paper cone

Method

Advance Preparations

Prepare Buttermilk Cake as directed. When the layers are cool, freeze one layer for another time.

If desired, prepare the Classic Marzipan as directed, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to prevent drying. Refrigerate it if it is made ahead, and bring it to room temperature when you are ready to use it. Then tint with 2 drops of green food coloring as directed, and wrap it in plastic until time to decorate the dessert.

Assembling the Cake

Split the layer in half so each is about ¾ inch thick. Center one layer, cut side up, on a cardboard round of the same size and place it on the decorating turntable. With an 8-inch flexible metal icing spatula, spread a thin layer of strawberry preserves evenly over the layer, being certain to reach completely to the edge. Center the top layer over this.

Now you are ready to layer the whipped cream and strawberries on top of the cake. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold in the white chocolate. Spread about one-third evenly over the top of the cake with a rubber spatula. Arrange some of the strawberries, points up, close together in the cream, stopping 1 inch short of the edge. (The fruit is likely to have a variety of sizes; use the largest on the bottom layer.)

Whip the remaining cream with a whisk until stiffer, firmer peaks form; this consistency is essential to support the marzipan covering. Spread a few more tablespoons of whipped cream over the fruit, holding them in place as though they were bricks with mortar. Continue arranging more strawberries, stacking another layer on the first. Spread another couple of tablespoons of whipped cream onto this layer; then arrange the remaining strawberries on top. After three layers of fruit, the center will be higher than the edges, forming a dome.

Place the cream around and on top of the strawberries. With the metal icing spatula, push the cream into the crevices and along the cake sides, at the same time smoothing the edges and top and shaping the dessert into a perfectly formed dome. The cake edges require only a thin film of cream to allow the marzipan to adhere, if you are using it.

Rolling the Marzipan

The method for rolling marzipan is similar to rolling short dough for a pie crust. Shape the marzipan into a flat disk 4 inches in diameter, and place it on a surface very lightly dusted with cornstarch. Position the rolling pin in the center, and roll away from yourself in a steady, even stroke. Take care not to roll off the edge, or the marzipan will become too thin, making it difficult to handle. Lift the marzipan, and turn it a couple of inches to the right; if it sticks to the surface, dust it lightly with cornstarch. Again center the rolling pin and continue to roll until you have formed a circle 14 inches in diameter and less than inch thick. (If the marzipan should tear at any time, overlap the two torn areas, and roll to seal them together.) Brush off excess cornstarch with a pastry brush.

Applying the Marzipan

To achieve a smooth finish without a crease, place the dome-shaped dessert with its cardboard bottom on a stand that is smaller in diameter than the cake itself (you may use a smaller cake pan or a large can).

Wind the marzipan circle loosely onto the rolling pin, lifting it to cover and decorate the dessert. This reduces the risk of tearing the marzipan and at the same time helps maintain its shape. Place the rolling pin across the circle of marzipan, one-third from the top edge. Lift the top section of marzipan over the pin, toward you.

Hold the rolling pin with the marzipan about 3 inches above the far end of the dessert; begin to unroll it carefully, allowing for a 1-inch overhang. Work across the top and down the other side, unrolling as you go, until the entire dessert is draped in marzipan, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang all around. Now fit the marzipan to the contour of the dessert, gently smoothing it down and over the edge of the cardboard as though you were working with fabric for a garment.

To ensure a neat, unwrinkled finish, begin smoothing again at the top with the palm of your hand, following the curvature of the dome. Each time pleats form near the cardboard base, stretch the marzipan gently (with one hand) to elongate it and eliminate the pleats. Press the marzipan against the cardboard to maintain the smooth finish. Continue working down and around the cake until you have a completely smooth surface. With all the folds eliminated, press the marzipan firmly against the cardboard’s edge to release the excess.

Finishing the Cake

If desired, prepare Classic Royal Icing and a paper cone as illustrated.

Form leftover marzipan scraps into a ball. Divide in two, and roll each half into a thin 15-inch cord. Drape one of the cords over the top of the dome. Overlap with the remaining cord, creating an × pattern. Press against the overhang and the cardboard to remove the excess. Form the leftover into a ball, and roll it out until it is inch thick. With a small knife, cut out a rectangle approximately 2½ × inches. Fill a paper cone with the icing, and pipe “FRAISIA” in script on the rectangle. Place it in front of the dessert.

Storing the Cake

This dessert should be served the day it is assembled. Refrigerate it uncovered. Remove it from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving, and allow it to reach room temperature.

Draping the marzipan circle over the dessert. Stretching the marzipan to elongate it to eliminate pleats at the base of the dessert. Pressing the marzipan against the cardboard’s edge to remove excess neatly.

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