This is a delicious autumn cake that works really well visually and taste-wise even when a little imperfect. The blackberries are lovely with the optionally glutenfree light cocoa genoise sponge which I made lower-sugar by replacing some sugar with birch extract xylitol. For my first prototype the pastry cream was quite thick so held well while for the second it was softer with healthier maple syrup and messier but very yummy. All the versions are delish and soaking the sponge layers with cassis blackcurrant liqueur syrup (or non-alcoholic blackcurrant juice) is simply delightful. Topping the cake with a marzipan disc is optional but adds a special touch. It’s all based on the classic French Fraisier cake which has strawberries (fraises) so this creation is called a mûrier (mûres are blackberries). We can also call it a slightly healthier blackberry and chocolate layer cake. 🙂 Give it a go and create an amazing autumn treat!
This is the smaller cake with softer maple syrup pastry cream and a xylitol/sugar sponge.
And here’s the earlier larger slightly more solid version which unmoulded and cut really nicely.
THE RECIPE – makes a 12cm/4.7in (or 20cm/8in) diametre cake
My cake is a slightly healthier and glutenfree adaptation of a Good Housekeeping chocolate and blackberry fraisier. Mine doesn’t include their top ganache layer so there’s less chocolatey sweetness and I followed my usual pastry cream method but you can try theirs for a firmer cream. Oh and the smaller cake is healthier because… it’s smaller. Lol.
For the sponge you can use plain all-purpose flour instead of glutenfree and replace the xylitol with caster sugar, which in my cakes is usually unrefined golden.
- Smaller cake: cake ring (12cm/4.7in diametre and 6cm/2.4cm high ) plus baking tray (23cm/9in x 23cm/9in) OR
- Larger cake: cake ring (20cm/8in diametre and 6cm/2.4cm high ) plus baking tray (30cm/11.8in x 40cm/15.7in).
- Acetate strip (6cm/2.4cm high)
- Day 1: make pastry cream (20 mins)
- Day 2: make sponge (25 mins + 10-12 mins baking); assemble (30 mins)
- Day 3: unmould and decorate with fresh fruit; eat…
Ingredients for assembling
- Marzipan/almond paste: 70g/2.5oz smaller cake (150g/5.3oz larger cake)
- 20g/1 tbsp (40g/2 tbsp) pure maple syrup
- 24g/ml from1/2 lemon (48g/ml from 1 lemon) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1-2 tbsp (2-4 tbsp) cassis blackcurrant syrup or non-alcoholic blackcurrant syrup like Ribena, to taste (or freshly-squeezed orange juice)
- Blackberries: 150g/5.3oz (350g/12.3oz) or more
Smaller cake (larger cake measurements in parentheses)
- 150ml/g (300ml/g) full-fat milk
- 1/4 tsp (1/2 tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 20g egg yolk from 1 medium-large free-range egg (40g egg yolk from 2 medium-large free-range eggs)
- 40g/2 tbsp (80g/4 tbsp) pure maple syrup (or sugar for a firmer pastry cream)
- 25g/8 tsp (50g/1/3 cup) cornflour/cornstarch (like Maizena)
- 37g/2 tbsp + 1 and 3/4 tsp (75g/1/3 cup) butter, good quality and softened
Follow the pastry cream method in my basic section using the quantities above, replacing the vanilla pod with extract (no need to infuse) and substituting sugar with maple syrup. If your pastry cream seems lumpy then sieve it before whisking in the butter.
Chocolate genoise sponge
- Line baking tray (see sizes in equipment section above) with baking paper coming up the sides.
- Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F (fan oven) or 180°C/360°F (static oven).
- Melt butter and let cool 10 mins or so.
Smaller cake (larger cake measurements in parentheses)
- 30g/2 tbsp (75g/1/3 cup) good quality unsalted butter, French-style (melted and cooled)
- 48g/1/5 cup (116g/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 30g/6 and 3/4 tsp (72g/1/3 cup) birch-extract xylitol (or sugar) – weigh then grind it to fine texture (almost like icing/powdered sugar)
- 140g beaten egg from 2 and 1/2 medium-large free-range eggs (336g beaten egg (6 medium-large free-range eggs)
- 60g/1/2 cup (150g/1 and 1/4 cups) gluten-free flour or self-raising flour (scant 1/2 cup)
- 15g/2 tbsp (37g/1/3 cup) pure unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch (good pinch) of fine sea salt
- optional: 1/2 tsp (1 tsp) baking powder (especially if there’s none in your flour)
- Whisk sugar/xylitol and beaten egg in a large bowl until it doubles in volume and is so thick it leaves a ‘ribbon trail’ when you lift some over the batter. By hand this can take 15-20 minutes or more.
- In a small-medium bowl whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder if using) to combine.
- Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the egg and sugar until almost combined, using figure of eight folding movements. Don’t overwork.
- Carefully fold in cooled melted butter until just combined. Again don’t overmix or it will flatten out. Pour into lined baking tray.
Bake in middle of oven 10 to 12 minutes or more until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and if you press the top lightly with your finger it springs back a little. Carefully turn out of the mould onto a wire rack to cool completely and peel off baking paper.
Marzipan: roll out a round to 2-3 mm thick and cut with the cake ring. Chill in fridge to firm.
Syrup: bring sugar, water and lemon juice to the boil in a small saucepan, first on low heat to stir and dissolve sugar then on medium-high heat. Allow to cool then add the cassis or non-alcoholic syrup/juice, to taste.
Blackberries: Rinse lightly and dry with paper towel. Cut enough blackberries in half (vertically) to go round the sides of cake ring. Try to cut berries with similar heights (save the smaller or larger ones to stay whole and go in the middle).
Pastry cream: refresh by bringing to room temperature and whisk in a bowl to get smooth fluffy texture.
- Use cake ring to cut out 2 sponge rounds.
- Clean cake ring then line with acetate strip joined with double-back (or a ring of) sellotape.
- Place on a cake base or plate then insert one round at the bottom.
- Soak with a little more than half the syrup.
- Place blackberry halves around the sides with the cut part facing outwards, close to each other.
- Fill a piping bag with pastry cream (no nozzle needed, just 3/4cm or 1/3in hole) and pipe a very thin line of cream in the middle hole, on the sponge. In the past I made this too thick – will be thinner next time.
- Place the whole blackberries (or any extra halves) in the middle. They should stand upright on the layer of pastry cream… or not. No worries. The blackberries should all be level now.
- Pipe a thinnish layer of cream around the rim on top of the blackberries and in the middle then smooth with a small offset spatula knife or back of metal spoon. Try not to press down as this squishes everything and spoils the effect – as in my smaller cake, let’s learn from my mistakes :)
- Take 2nd round and brush with remaining syrup (but leave a little) then invert onto the cake.
- Brush the top of sponge with the last of the syrup.
- Then place the chilled marzipan on top. Careful not to press it down too much like I did – if it sticks out over the top no worries.
- Chill in the fridge overnight then just before unmoulding freeze for 30 minutes (the freezing is optional but will give you a neater finish than my small cake).
- Put your hand under the cake and and push the cake ring down to remove it. Cut the acetate strip with scissors at the joint and carefully peel off. Tada!
The earlier large prototype cake was decorated with blackberries, dried rose petals and mint leaves.
Eating and storing
This cake should keep in the fridge up to 3 or 4 days. You’re not supposed to freeze pastry cream but I found slices of this cake did freeze okay for a few days to a week or so (defrost overnight in the fridge). Bring to room temperature 20 minutes or more after taking out of the fridge. We should slice up this baby now… 🙂
Bye bye and happy autumn people!!! Spooky times coming soon. Wishing you a lovely week and upcoming weekend with some happy baking and yummy results! 🙂 Lili x