No photos this time. It just wasn’t pretty here in the Ragland kitchen. Since we had just driven in from D.C. on Sunday, I opted for a Father’s Day do-over on Monday and planned a menu of herbed pork tenderloin, rice pilaf, and tarragon roasted asparagus, and of course, a French Strawberry Cake.
With my trusty helper, Olivia, in the kitchen to assist. We attempted the Perfect Genoise – the foundation of our dessert. Dorie Greenspan writes that genoise is the first cake batter mastered by a French patissier. Clearly, I would have been stuck in genoise school for some time. Just the directions for the Genoise amounted to two pages (Baking with Julia is a BIG book!)
This unleavened cake (no baking soda or powder) is just eggs, sugar, flour, and melted butter. You beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture triples in size – a light, airy froth. I spent a good 7-8 minutes using the whisk attachment in my KA mixer. I think I didn’t use a high enough speed at first, so I increased it to “6” and it started to fill with air.
I wish I had seen my compadres posts about sifting the flour into the mixing bowl. As I I tipped my waxed paper cone of twice-sifted flour, I asked my assistant for help. Unwittingly, she dumped the contents in their entirety into my light airy mixture. The flour was supposed to be added in three additions. I could feel the air being sucked out of my batter, though I attempted to fold – but as I folded I kept finding more and more pockets of flour, as well as a nice pile at the bottom of my mixing bowl.
All I could do was move forward, so I did, pouring the batter into my prepared pan and hoping for the best. Ollie and I watched through the oven window as our cake refused to rise – deflating our hopes and our dessert.
I only made 2/3 of the strawberries and whipped cream frosting – it wouldn’t take much to frost our one layer – standing at barely 1/2″ (I don’t think I am exaggerating…) Dense and eggy, I went ahead and added some of the strawberry liquid to what would be more aptly named, strawberry shortcake.
We ate it all, but it wasn’t the light dessert I had hoped for.