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Very Berry Cake – A Better Version of a Fraisier Cake

Very Berry Cake

My Very Berry Cake is a take on the classic French Fraisier cake. It consists of two sponge cakes (I’ve used a white cake recipe), a layer of mousseline cream, fresh fruit, and Chantilly cream (i.e., a sweetened whipped cream). I love this cake because it’s light and bright. The cake has added lemon zest that pairs beautifully with the fresh fruit, and the creams adds a balanced amount of sweetness and richness to the cake. This is the perfect dessert for summertime!

We made this Very Berry Cake to celebrate a birthday, but it would be perfect for the Fourth of July (with red and blue berries and white cream). It has a classic Fraisier cake “look” with the halved strawberries arranged around the outside, but I’ve also loaded the inside with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cut strawberries. Make this cake anytime you can get your hands on fresh berries! If you’re in the mood for the classic Fraisier cake, you can just omit the other berries and only use the strawberries.

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Ingredients for White Cake
White Cake Ingredients
  • 3¼ cups (325g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp (14g) baking powder
  • ¾ tsp (4.5g) salt
  • 2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 6 large (180g) egg whites
  • 1 tsp (2g) finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp (8.5g) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (320g) whole milk
Ingredients for Very Berry Cake
  • 2 nine-inch (23cm) white cake layers
  • 1 batch of pastry cream, room temperature (for mousseline)
  • 6 Tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, softened (for mousseline)
  • Fresh fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
  • 1 batch of Chantilly cream
Equipment for Very Berry Cake
Cake Preparation Steps

Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F/180°C with the oven rack in the middle.  Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by greasing the bottom and sides (I like to use Crisco vegetable shortening) and then dusting with flour.  You can also put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan to ensure the cake comes out without sticking to the pan.  I like these pre-cut 9-inch parchment circles

Making the White Cake

Sift together the dry ingredients (i.e., flour, baking powder, and salt) into a medium sized bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside. 

In the stand mixer bowl (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), use the paddle attachment to beat the softened butter at medium speed until creamy and smooth.  This should take approximately 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar.  Mix for approximately 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.  This is the stage where we are beating air into the batter so the cake will have a delicate crumb and not be dense. 

Reduce the speed to low and add the egg whites, one at a time.  Make sure to beat well after each addition.  It’s ok if the mixture looks a little curdled at this point.  Next, beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.  Scrape the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated into the batter. 

Add the dry ingredient mixture in three additions alternating with the milk.  The milk sometimes splashes when adding it, so add it slowly or use a stand mixer shield (if you have one).  Only mix until the flour is just incorporated.  If the batter is mixed too much at this stage, the cake will be rubbery when cooked. 

White Cake Batter

Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. 

Baking the White Cake

Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before turning the cakes out to finish cooling completely.  The cakes are cooled in the cake pans initially to allow the cake to set slightly before removing from the pan.  If you were to turn it out immediately, the cake might be too delicate and break apart while cooling. 

Making the Mousseline

Place the pastry cream and butter into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until the butter has been thoroughly incorporated into the pastry cream.

If either component is a little on the cool side, your mixture might break slightly (i.e., it might look curdled). If this happens, don’t worry. It can be fixed. Grab a hair dryer (or something else that produces a small amount of heat) and use it to gently heat the outside of the bowl while continuing to mix. This should allow the mixture to re-emulsify and become smooth again.

Use immediately or place the mousseline in the fridge until assembling the cake. Because of the high butter ratio in the mousseline cream, the mixture will harden in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature (or at least a temperature where it can be easily stirred/spread) before assembling the cake.

Cake Assembly Preparation

Place the mousseline and Chantilly cream into separate piping bags. Use tips if you want to pipe specific designs. I used a large star tip to pipe the whipped cream on the top of the cake.

Assembling the Very Berry Cake
Very Berry Cake (Frasier Cake) Assembly - bottom cake layer with acetate collar

Place one layer of the cake on your serving plate and wrap a strip of acetate (i.e., flexible food grade plastic) around the edge of the cake. Secure the edge of the acetate with a piece of tape.

Very Berry Cake (Frasier Cake) Assembly - strawberries cut in half and pressed against acetate, middle filled with mouselline cream

Cut approximately 12 strawberries in half and arrange them with the cut side placed directly against the acetate. Try to make them all approximately the same height.

Very Berry Cake (Frasier Cake) Assembly - middle filled with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and chopped strawberries

Pipe a layer of mousseline cream onto the cake and use the piping bag to fill in the gaps between the strawberries. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to quickly smooth the cream. Then, add extra fruit to the middle of the cake (i.e., inside of the strawberry ring). I used raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and quartered strawberries. When adding the fruit, do not let the fruit extend above the tops of the cut strawberries, otherwise, the second cake layer will not sit flat.

Pipe the remaining mousseline cream. I like to use a piping bag because it allows for more control, however, feel free to spoon the cream in if you would prefer. Smooth the mousseline using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

Very Berry Cake (Frasier Cake) Assembly - top with second cake layer

Next, take the second layer of cake and place it gently on top of the mousseline cream. Try to drop it as evenly as possible so the cream doesn’t get pushed up one side of the cake. The goal with this dessert is to have clean layers without bleeding between layers. Take care with each component to achieve a beautiful finished product.

Pipe a layer of Chantilly cream over the top of the cake and smooth using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. You can leave it flat or use a piping bag to add Chantilly cream decorations to the top of the cake.

Serving the Cake

Very Berry Cake

At this point, place in the fridge (uncovered) for at least 2 hours for the mousseline to set. If you want to ensure the fruit juices don’t bleed onto the whipped cream, wait until just before serving and then add the “decoration” fruit.

To serve, remove the Very Berry Cake from the fridge and then gently peel off the strip of acetate. Top with fresh fruit and any additional desired decorations.

This cake is a perfect, basic cake that perfectly combines with so many fillings and toppings.  Fruit flavors are the best since there is a lemon flavor in the cake, however, you can leave the lemon out and combine this cake with literally any flavor combination you want.  It is great for cake decorating because of the structure of the cake crumb.

Let me know if you have a favorite basic cake recipe that you go to when making cakes.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a simple, tasty cake.

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Very Berry Cake
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Very Berry Cake

Servings: 16 slices

Equipment

  • Sifter
  • 2-9" (23cm) round cake pans
  • Parchment paper circles
  • Digital scale (or measuring cups and measuring spoons)
  • Medium bowl
  • Whisk
  • Stand mixer with paddle AND whisk attachment (or hand mixer with large bowl)
  • Microplane zester (for lemon zest)
  • Silicone spatula
  • Stand mixer shield (optional)
  • Toothpick
  • Wire rack
  • Cardboard cake board
  • 4.7" tall (12cm) Strip of acetate
  • Tape
  • Offset spatula
  • Piping bags
  • Decorative tips (optional)

Ingredients

Ingredients for White Cake

  • cups (325g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp (14g) baking powder
  • ¾ tsp (4.5g) salt
  • 2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  • cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 6 large (180g) egg whites
  • 1 tsp (2g) finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp (8.5g) vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups (320g) whole milk

Ingredients for Very Berry Cake

  • 2 nine-inch (23cm) white cake layers
  • 1 batch of pastry cream, room temperature (for mousseline)
  • 6 Tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, softened (for mousseline)
  • Fresh fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
  • 1 batch of Chantilly cream

Instructions

Making the White Cake

  • Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F/180°C with the oven rack in the middle.  Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by greasing the bottom and sides and then dusting with flour.  You can also put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan to ensure the cake comes out without sticking to the pan.  I like to use pre-cut 9-inch parchment circles.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients (i.e., flour, baking powder, and salt) into a medium sized bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside. 
  • In the stand mixer bowl (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), use the paddle attachment to beat the softened butter at medium speed until creamy and smooth.  This should take approximately 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar. Mix for approximately 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.  This is the stage where we are beating air into the batter so the cake will have a delicate crumb and not be dense. 
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the egg whites, one at a time.  Make sure to beat well after each addition.  It’s ok if the mixture looks a little curdled at this point.  Next, beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.  Scrape the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated into the batter. 
  • Add the dry ingredient mixture in three additions alternating with the milk.  The milk sometimes splashes when adding it, so add it slowly or use a stand mixer shield (if you have one).  Only mix until the flour is just incorporated.  If the batter is mixed too much at this stage, the cake will be rubbery when cooked. 
  • Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. 

Baking the White Cake

  • Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before turning the cakes out to finish cooling completely.  The cakes are cooled in the cake pans initially to allow the cake to set slightly before removing from the pan.  If you were to turn it out immediately, the cake might be too delicate and break apart while cooling. 

Making the Mousseline

  • Place the pastry cream and butter into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until the butter has been thoroughly incorporated into the pastry cream.
  • If either component is a little on the cool side, your mixture might break slightly (i.e., it might look curdled). If this happens, don’t worry. It can be fixed. Grab a hair dryer (or something else that produces a small amount of heat) and use it to gently heat the outside of the bowl while continuing to mix. This should allow the mixture to re-emulsify and become smooth again.
  • Use immediately or place the mousseline in the fridge until assembling the cake. Because of the high butter ratio in the mousseline cream, the mixture will harden in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature (or at least a temperature where it can be easily stirred/spread) before assembling the cake.

Cake Assembly Preparation

  • Place the mousseline and Chantilly cream into separate piping bags. Use tips if you want to pipe specific designs. I used a large star tip to pipe the whipped cream on the top of the cake.

Assembling the Very Berry Cake

  • Place one layer of the cake on your serving plate and wrap a strip of acetate (i.e., flexible food grade plastic) around the edge of the cake. Secure the edge of the acetate with a piece of tape.
  • Cut approximately 12 strawberries in half and arrange them with the cut side placed directly against the acetate. Try to make them all approximately the same height.
  • Pipe a layer of mousseline cream onto the cake and use the piping bag to fill in the gaps between the strawberries. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to quickly smooth the cream. Then, add extra fruit to the middle of the cake (i.e., inside of the strawberry ring). I used raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and quartered strawberries. When adding the fruit, do not let the fruit extend above the tops of the cut strawberries, otherwise, the second cake layer will not sit flat. Pipe the remaining mousseline cream. I like to use a piping bag because it allows for more control, however, feel free to spoon the cream in if you would prefer. Smooth the mousseline using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  • Next, take the second layer of cake and place it gently on top of the mousseline cream. Try to drop it as evenly as possible so the cream doesn’t get pushed up one side of the cake. The goal with this dessert is to have clean layers without bleeding between layers. Take care with each component to achieve a beautiful finished product.
  • Pipe a layer of Chantilly cream over the top of the cake and smooth using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. You can leave it flat or use a piping bag to add Chantilly cream decorations to the top of the cake.
  • At this point, place in the fridge (uncovered) for at least 2 hours for the mousseline to set. If you want to ensure the fruit juices don’t bleed onto the whipped cream, wait until just before serving and then add the “decoration” fruit.

Serving the Cake

  • To serve, remove the cake from the fridge and then gently peel off the strip of acetate. Top with fresh fruit and any additional desired decorations.

Notes

This recipe was adapted from Tish Boyle’s “Basic White Cake Layers” in The Cake Book.
Notes
  1. This recipe was adapted from Tish Boyle’s “Basic White Cake Layers” in The Cake Book.

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3 Comments

  1. Hello, I’m thinking of making this but would like to freeze it first… would this be ok to freeze them thaw when I need it?

    1. Hi Victoria. I’ve never frozen this cake, but I wouldn’t suggest freezing the fully assembled cake. Because the cake has berries in it (with some of them cut), they will likely bleed and break down during the thawing process. Instead, I would suggest making the cake layers, wrapping them in plastic wrap and then freezing in a freezer bag. They should remain fresh for 1-3 months. When you are ready to assemble the cake, just thaw the cake layers to room temperature first and then you should be good to go!

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