Two for One: French Strawberry Cake and Hazelnut Biscotti
Posted by loavesandstitches
Something has happened to me since arriving at our vacation house on Saturday. I think my brain cells have gone soft because I cannot seem to put any coherent thoughts together. Maybe it is the salt air or maybe my brain has decided it needs a vacation as well. In any case, I will do my best, but don’t be surprised if this post is a little, umm, disjointed.
Firstly, it is Tuesdays with Dorie Day. I missed the last one because I was busy with I can’t remember what, but I really did want to make this recipe, French Strawberry Cake. So, I convinced my older son that it would be a good one to have for his birthday celebration, which we decided to have at the beach house. I knew that I would not be up for baking a complicated genoise recipe in an unfamiliar kitchen, so I did it at home before we left.
I am no stranger to making genoise, but I would not say that we have become fast friends. It is a fussy creature and there are always several moments in the process when I want to have no more to do with it. Ever. Again. I am usually making chocolate genoise, so I was hoping that this recipe would be kinder to me since it is of the plain yellow vanilla variety. In some ways, it was, and in other ways, it was the same old fussy monster I am used to.
My pictures during the process came out horribly. I want to spare you those, so I will just show you a picture of the cake when it came out of the oven.
Unfortunately, I had the not so brilliant idea to use a cake strip around the pan to try to encourage a higher rise and more even cooking. This backfired on me as it kept the cake from forming a nice crust around the edge, which in turn made it difficult to get out of the pan. It’s not pretty, but it did rise rather well, and icing covers a multitude of sins. I wrapped it up and threw it in the freezer to take with us to the beach.
Then, disaster struck. The cake almost did not make it to the beach with us. The night before we were due to leave, we got a massive thunderstorm in our area which knocked out our power (along with over half a million other people and that’s just in our area; there were more power outages elsewhere). We are relatively unprepared for power outages. It never happens to us. We get blinks now and again, but, I think because we live just off a main street and next to a large shopping area, our power supply is a high priority. The next morning when we were supposed to leave, the power was still not on and we were unsure what to do, especially with the stuff in the fridge and freezer. I am familiar with power outages, having grown up in Florida and going through a couple of big hurricanes, and one thing you learn to not do during a power outage is open the refrigerator or freezer. I was really torn. My little boy’s birthday cake was in there (along with half the food for our week’s vacation) and I Really wanted it to go with us. After some debating (mostly involving me begging the husband to please, please, let me open the freezer), we decided to take a gamble that our power would be one of the first ones restored and I got five seconds to open the freezer. Whew!
The day before we the big storm, I worked on today’s official twd recipe: Hazelnut Biscotti. I thought this would be the perfect cookie to take with us, since it travels so well. This recipe is particularly easy to make. There’s no butter to mess with, just eggs mixed with the flour base and then you fold in the nuts. I decided to include some dried cherries as well. It was tempting to add chocolate, but I resisted. It was going to be a hundred degrees for the next few days and I didn’t wanted a lot of melted chocolate around.
The logs were easy to form and baked up really nicely.
I did not get 4 dozen cookies like the recipe states. It was more like 30, but I am happy with the way they turned out. They are crunchy, without being too hard and a little sweet. As a bonus, they are dairy free and are perfect alone, with tea or coffee, or even with cheese and crackers and juice. You can easily use this as a base recipe and swap out the hazelnuts for whatever you like. And they travel really well. Ours survived an 8 hour drive with nary a crumb in the bag.
Now, back to the French strawberry cake. To simplify my life, I decided to just cut the cake into two layers. Attempting three seemed like asking for disaster and that is the last thing I wanted for this cake. I used a potato masher to crush the strawberries instead of a fork.
The whipped cream turned out well. I used two cups of cream instead of the skimpy amount in the recipe. It came together fairly easily after the cake was made. It looked great.
The birthday boy loved it and several others said it was delicious as well. I only had one bite, but it was yummy. The genoise was soft and not dry at all. I think the cake strips around the pan helped keep the cake moist and it was very soft and fluffy. It’s not a cake that keeps well, though, so it’s best made when you are fairly sure it can all get eaten up within two days. We are at the beach and it’s pretty certain it will be gone soon. I have an idea for what to have for breakfast this morning…