Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Cream Puff Cake

The name of this dessert says it all. It's a giant open faced cream puff topped with strawberries. I saw this recipe on Mels Kitchen Cafe and I couldn't pass this up. I love cream puffs, but I don't love having to pipe and fill each individual puff. The solution, just make one big one that you can cut and share. The upside, it's faster and easier, and tastes exactly as it should. The downside, it's messier. I choose speed and ease over mess any day. Wouldn't you?
This cake is light, and creamy and the base of the cake is made of the same batter/dough that is used to make cream puffs and eclairs - so of course it's going to taste the same. :)
Let's get started.

First comes the pâte à choux  - the batter for the base of the cake.

water, sugar, butter, eggs, and flour

Combine water, sugar and butter in a medium sauce pan.

Bring to a boil . . .

add the flour all at once, and stir to combine.

Cook for a couple minutes to dry out the dough (this will help the dough to absorb the eggs later on).

When it forms a ball, take it off the heat. (I put it in a bowl to help it cool faster.)

Whisk or beat the dough with an elextric mixer to cool it down.

When the dough is just warm, beat in the eggs, one at a time.  (I switched to a wire whisk, instead of my silicone one that I was using before, I needed something more sturdy. The beaters for my electric mixter were dirty or I would have used my mixer instead. Oh well. Burn more calories this way!) One egg . . .

whisk and add the second egg . . .

whisk until combined . . .

and add the third egg.

When the last egg is incorporated, the dough will be smooth and sticky.

Using a spatula, spread the dough around the bottom and up the sides (one inch) of a 9 inch round cake pan. - A spring form would be best, but I'm not blessed enough to own one of those.  Oh! And don't forget to spray the pan before you put the dough in. You don't want it to stick.

Getting it up the sides is the trickiest part. It helps to cool the batter in the fridge for 5 minutes.

(I brought my edges up a little higher than the recommended 1 inch, but it will shrink a little as it cooks.) It goes into a preheated 375F oven for 20-25 minutes (until it starts to puff, set and turn golden).

While it bakes, you can make the cream cheese layer/topping. 4 oz oc cream cheese goes into a bowl.

Beat it until smooth, Use an elextric pr stand mixer - I started with a wisk and had to change later on. More dishes. Save yourself an extra dish to wash and just start with the electric or stand mixer.

Add in the powdered sugar.

When it's smooth, . . .

add the vanilla,

and the heavy cream. Beat until stiff peaks form. - Since I tried to do this with a wisk, it took longer than anticipated. I ended up just putting it in the fridge so that I could take the cream puff base out of the oven.

The cream puff base should be done now. (The original recipe says to cook it for 25 minutes at first, but mine was only in for 15 and was already starting to burn on the edges. So, I took it out. You be the judge of your cream puff. If it's brown, take it out!) It will be set, slightly golden and puffy.

Poke it all over, to let the air out. The original recipe says to use a toothpick, but I just used a fork.

The puff will deflate some, as the air escapes.

My edges were already starting to look over done, so I covered them with aluminum foil and put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes.

After 5 more minutes in the oven, it is browned in the center and cooked through (not sticky at all). The puff in the middle did reappear, but it will sink down again after it cools and even more when the filling/topping is spread on.

Let the cream puff base cool completely. - See? The puff deflated again. It's not pretty, but you'll make it look pretty in just a minute.

Back to the cream cheese mixture. Use an electric or stand mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. It will be like very thick whipped cream.

Add 1/8 tsp orange extract. (The original recipe says to add 1 tsp orange zest, but I didn't have any oranges. This was just enough extract to not taste "orange-y" but add a nice background note.)

When the base is cool and the cream cheese mixture is whipped, dump all the cream cheese mixture onto the cream puff base.

Smooth it out. See? No one will ever know how non-pretty it is underneath, Unless you tell them . . . or have a blog and post pictures for everyone to see. :)

Top with 2 cups sliced strawberries.

It's so good!  What are you waiting for? Go make one!
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Mels Kitchen Cafe

Strawberry Cream Puff Cake

Cream Puff Base:
5 Tbsp butter
2/3 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup flour
3 eggs

Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp orange extract (or 1 tsp orange zest)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar

For the cream puff layer, preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using an electric beater, add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is shiny with a satiny sheen. Don’t
overbeat. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (or a 9-inch circle cake pan). Using a spatula, spread the mixture on the bottom and one inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and prick pastry with a toothpick (or fork) 10-12 times. If the edges are getting too brown, cover them with foil. Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more until golden brown but not overbaked (you can insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out with sticky dough, it still needs longer in the oven). Cool completely.
For the cream cheese mixture, use an electric pr stand mixer and beat /wisk the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat with the cream cheese until mixture is smooth and light. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread onto the cooled cream puff shell.
Top with fresh sliced strawberries (I mixed 2 cups of strawberries with 1 tsp sugar and let them hang out in the fridge while I was prepping the cake).

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