Crummb

When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Strawberry Shortcake June 19, 2008

I never thought I’d say this, but could making a genoise be this easy?

I’m currently reviewing four baking cookbooks for the newspaper, and – since I have time – I’m trying out one recipe from each title to value-add.

Just Desserts by Bakerzin’s founder Daniel Tay has a recipe for strawberry shortcake that I just had to try. It appeared to be the least complicated recipe in the cake section and, besides, strawberry shortcake is my favourite cake. But there is a snag: I’d have to revisit the genoise, a word that sets me trembling to my very foundations.

Genoise, which is the French style of sponge cake, is notoriously hard to make. Like all sponges, it gets its aeration and volume not from baking powder, but from whipping the hell out of eggs. Then, you’d have to fold in flour and melted butter with the dexterity and speed of a kungfu pugilist. A heavy hand or a few seconds too long and you’d end up with a rubber mat of a cake.

I tried to master the genoise last year after I bought Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. And, I tell you, that lady made me go through hell and high water to attain her vision of the perfect genoise.

To make her genoise, I had to prepare my own beurre noisette (snooty term for clarified butter) by heating butter to boiling point then straining the burnt milk solids. I had to balance a bowl of eggs over a pot of boiling water, then, risking life and limb, beat the eggs for 10 full minutes with a hand-held electric mixer. Then, to effectively fold in the flour without upsetting too much of the testy air bubbles, I bought the biggest whisk there is, at 16 inches long – all at Beranbaum’s behest.

And what did I get after at least five attempts? Greasy countertops, egg foam everywhere, a bloody baseball-bat of a whisk that cannot fit in any of my drawers, and sunken-in cakes.

So when I tried Tay’s recipe, I half-expected it not the work. He didn’t call for the heating up of eggs to achieve maximum volume, which was unusual. Instead, a helluva lot of egg yolks were needed – at least six, plus another three whole eggs – which were beaten for a good 20 minutes. Presumably, this is to stabilise the air bubbles so the batter becomes more tolerant of rough handling.

At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I took the cake out of the oven. It didn’t sink. I gave it another 15 minutes on the counter, and still it stayed put. Then, I bent down and peered at it at eye-level – the top was perfectly level. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I have a miracle.

Making the chantilly cream was even easier. I only had to whisk together whipped cream, mascarpone cheese and sugar, and I was soon licking this utterly delicious concoction off my fingers.

Okay, so the finishing was a little rough. I unmolded the cake a little too soon (the book didn’t specify how long it should be refrigerated – their fault!) so it didn’t look as polished as the photo in the book. But it tasted so good. It wasn’t quite like my Holy Grail, the unrivalled Scoop Cake from Tampopo Deli in Liang Court. But it was pretty dem good for a first try. And so easy too.

Yay, Mr Tay.

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24 Responses to “Strawberry Shortcake”

  1. Jac Says:

    Beautiful…beautiful cake……makes me drools……

  2. Daphne Says:

    YUMMY !! I dun even have to taste it to know it !! I want !! Hey when you passing some scraps or cake for testing to me?!?!? heee.. 😛

  3. Jamie Says:

    Looks fab!!!

  4. Jaimie Says:

    You should make a recipes section! I really want the Strawberry Shortcake one but can’t get the Daniel Tay book in the UK! Please email!
    Thanks, your cakes look amazing!!!!!

  5. crummb Says:

    hey babes, thanks for all your comments!

    jaimie: heh, i have two other friends who have choped the book! it’s not with me now, but once i get it back, i’ll email it to you. hang in there! 🙂

  6. Jaimie Says:

    Thanks!

    I will wait! That picture looks so amazing!

    I can’t wait to try it!

  7. Jane Says:

    Love the picture n love the cake! I can’t stop craving for it ever since I stumbled on your website. 🙂 Could you send me the recipe, please? I’d like to try making it the easy way. 🙂 Thanks so much. 🙂

  8. crummb Says:

    hi jaimie and jane,
    i’ve found an even BETTER recipe for sponge cake and it’s way easier too! look out for it in my next post – coming real soon 🙂

  9. […] But no matter. Because his recipe for “French-style sponge cake” (what snootier books would term “genoise”) is brain-dead easy and utterly delicious. The texture was gorgeously soft and moist, and it didn’t sink. And, get this, it contains no artificial additives. Yup, it’s all natural, folks. And it’s even better than the Daniel Tay recipe I wrote about here. […]

  10. Jane Says:

    Thanks very much Crummb but please, don’t keep me in suspense. 🙂 And please don’t forget the recipe for the gorgeous cream that goes with the genoise/sponge cake, too! 🙂 Can’t wait for your next post. 🙂

  11. crummb Says:

    hi jane, here it is! Daniel Tay’s recipe for chantilly cream is –

    1 litre whipping cream
    100g icing sugar
    100g mascarpone cheese
    just whip until soft peaks form.

    but this consistency is quite runny. it’s okay if you’re following Tay’s method of spooning the cream over the cake (placed inside a cake ring), then chilling it for a few hours before unmoulding.

    you can increase the mascarpone cheese so that the consistency is more spreadable. this way, you’d just need to slap the cream on the cake and serve immediately – no need to put cake in ring, chill and unmould.
    I’ve tried making it with the following proportions and it turned out great –

    2 cups whipping cream
    8 oz mascarpone cheese
    any amount of icing sugar to taste
    (sorry, changed to cups and ounces here cos I adapted this from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

    you can see what it looks like on my entry for Banana Caramel Cake. hope this helps! 🙂

  12. Jane Says:

    Hi Crummb,

    Thank you so much for the chantilly cream recipe and the tips, too. It sounds so good! I shall try to make it some time soon. Thanks so much once again for the post, chef crummb! 🙂 Take care!

  13. crummb Says:

    any time! tell me how it goes 🙂

  14. Anita Says:

    Hi there ,

    came across your blog through Google while seaching for a cookbook – Just Desserts by Daniel Tay

    I am so tempted to buy this book , what do you think of this book ?

    I found out that he also taught some of the recipes in this book at Shermay’s Cooking School

    http://www.shermay.com/schedule_july2008.htm

    • crummb Says:

      hi anita,
      frankly, i found daniel tay’s book a little too “deep”, as in, he uses a lot of ingredients that i’ve never heard of and which i probably won’t be able to find in an average bakery supplies shop. this is what i wrote in my review of the book for The Straits Times, hope it helps!:

      “Fans of Singapore’s very own Bakerzin would be happy to know that recipes for some of the cafe chain’s best-known items are revealed in this book.
      They include the Coeur Noir chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake, creme brulee, banana pizza, macarons, caneles and almost its entire repertoire of fruit tarts.
      But while the book promises to be a reference for both novice bakers and experienced chefs, you’d need to be at least a seasoned hobbyist to understand it.
      Firstly, there are several esoteric ingredients, such as “inverted sugar syrup”, that are just crying out to be defined in its shoddy glossary.
      Also, don’t expect Bakerzin’s founder Daniel Tay to hand-hold you from start to finish. For a few recipes, you are left wondering how to make, or where to get, items such as coconut puree, pistachio paste and semi-dried lemons.
      I tried the recipe for strawberry shortcake – the least complicated one in the cake section – and it turned out remarkably well. The recipe for the genoise sponge cake is one of the easiest I’ve ever come across and the accompanying chantilly cream turned out absolutely divine.
      But I wish it has clearer instructions on how long the cake should be refrigerated before serving. I had unmoulded it too soon and it looked nothing like the photo in the book. Baking, after all, is all about the details.
      I’m not sure if I’m inspired enough to try the other recipes. It’s easier to just go to a Bakerzin and order a finished cake.”

  15. sue Says:

    hi there ..lovely cake , do u mind sharing the recipe for the cake, deeply appreciated. Do u mind sending tru my email.thanks

  16. crummb Says:

    hi sue, so sorry for the delay! here is the recipe of the genoise sponge cake:

    110g egg yolks
    175g eggs
    170g sugar
    110g cake flour, sifted
    55g unsalted butter, melted

    1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
    2. Combine egg yolks, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk on high speed for 10 minutes. Reduce to medium speed and whisk for another 10 minutes or until fine air bubbles form.
    3. Lightly fold in flour, followed by melted butter, until fully incorporated.
    4. Pour batter into a lined 8-inch cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. When done, cool cake while still inside the pan. Then unmould.

  17. sue Says:

    thank you so much , appreciate it . May asked how to get such a fantastic yellow rich colour such as your cake , may i know which brand of butter was used to bake this fab cake? Btw how much is the daniel tay’s cookbook?

    cheers

  18. crummb Says:

    hi sue, the amazing yellow colour comes from the huge number of egg yolks! (at least 6, plus another 3 whole eggs). it didn’t come from butter. the book is priced at around S$39. all the best! 🙂

  19. Alison Says:

    hey chef crummb,

    Ur cake looks so pretty!

    So for the chantilly cream, its just
    2 cups whipping cream
    8 oz mascarpone cheese
    any amount of icing sugar to taste.

    How about the strawberries? just cut them up and add them in no sugar added?

  20. […] But no matter. Because his recipe for “French-style sponge cake” (what snootier books would term “genoise”) is brain-dead easy and utterly delicious. The texture was gorgeously soft and moist, and it didn’t sink. And, get this, it contains no artificial additives. Yup, it’s all natural. And it’s even better than the Daniel Tay recipe I wrote about here. […]

  21. […] But no matter. Because his recipe for “French-style sponge cake” (what snootier books would term “genoise”) is brain-dead easy and utterly delicious. The texture was gorgeously soft and moist, and it didn’t sink. And, get this, it contains no artificial additives. Yup, it’s all natural. And it’s even better than the Daniel Tay recipe I wrote about here. […]

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    it I am sure.


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