This modernist-style decoration with strawberry slices was launched by French pâtissier Yann Couvreur for his revisit of the French classic le Fraisier. It’s straightforward to construct with perfect distribution of fruit both outside and inside, wonderful flavours, moisture and freshness. So I thought I’d share it with you. But rather than using standard mousseline cream and genoise sponge (feel free to do that), I went with my favourite go-to glutenfree dulce de leche chocolate sponge and a healthier frosting: Greek yoghurt, a little mascarpone and coconut flour, lightly sweetened with birch xylitol or sugar. There’s an extra surprise texture with the occasional bite of chocolate drops in the sponge and its lovely caramel depth is balanced by the yoghurt tang. Anyway, you can adapt this cake with different sponges and frostings – it will be delicious too! It’s a truly divine taste experience eating sponge surrounded by sliced strawberries in a light frosting layer, with extra strawberries and creaminess inside. I love (really really love) this Modernist Greek yoghurt strawberry chocolate cake. 🙂
For a mini 12cm/4.7in diametre cake about 6cm/2.4in high (4 – 6 servings)
It may not turn out as perfectly smooth or beautiful as Yann Couvreur’s but you won’t mind once you taste the cake. Sooo yummy!
Quantity of strawberries. You can vary the quantity of strawberries inside: lots makes the cake more Fraisier (‘fraise’ being the French word for strawberry); less makes it more chocolate cake with strawberries – which is how my latest version turned out. Yum.
Macerated strawberries. You can optionally first macerate the strawberries in fresh lime juice and a little sugar or maple syrup, as Mr Couvreur did in an updated recipe. This could be a good option with a plain vanilla sponge or genoise or if your strawberries don’t have much flavour. I kept the flavours simpler for my version, feeling the lime could be too much with the chocolate.
Soaking syrup. You can brush your sponge with syrup, which I did for the first heavier sponge but not for the already moist chocolate sponge. It’s up to you. If your sponge is a bit dry or bland maybe soak.
A different sponge. For my first prototype I used a fairly heavy, strange experimental gf strawberry muffin sponge, hidden in the freezer awaiting salvation (won’t be making it again). Though the simple Russian buttercream of whisked butter, condensed milk and greek yoghurt separated a little (they were at different temperatures, won’t do that again either), the cake (and soaking syrup) transformed the sponge and it all became a delicious delight! (Yes, was very surprised and happy).
So do adapt using any sponge (within reason) and a buttercream or frosting that is creamy with some holding power.
And if you’re interested in Yann Couvreur’s original cake please check out the Fraisier recipe on Bake Like a Chef’s blog.
Make chocolate sponge 1-2 days before assembling or Day 1 early morning (it should be cool) or use from frozen (defrost).
Drain greek yoghurt overnight or Day 1 early morning
- DAY 1 – assemble cake
- DAY 2 – eat cake
- Round springform baking tin – 12cm/4.7in diametre and 4cm/1.5in high (bigger cake: 20cm/8in diametre and 4cm/1.5in high)
- Cake ring – 12cm/4.7in diametre (or a little wider) and 4 to 6cm/1.5 to 2.4in high (or use ring of baking tin, with no base)
- Acetate strip – 6cm/2.4in wide to fit inside cake ring/baking tin (you could use plastic strip cut from piping bag or possibly baking paper – I’m not sure if strawberry slices will stick to it)
- Plastic circle to place under cake/baking tin ring (I cut it from a plastic piping bag)
Dulce de leche chocolate sponge
The quantities are good for 2 x small 12cm/4.7in round cakes (for this Fraisier) plus 4-6 cupcakes or 1 x 20cm/8in round cake. For more info and details you can visit my dulce de leche chocolate cake recipe here (alternatively, use your favourite or not so favourite chocolate or vanilla sponge, or a genoise – see my recipe here, optionally sugarfree.)
- 66g/2.32oz good-quality chocolate (chips or pâtisserie chocolate). I’ve used good-quality milk or dark chocolate, or a combination – the delicious Belgian Callebaut brand
- 66g/1/2 cup + 2 tsp glutenfree flour mix, homemade but in some prototypes Doves Farm GF self-raising flour (alternatively use 1/2 cup + 1 and 1/2 tsp plain all-purpose/00 flour)
- 5g/1 tsp baking powder
- small pinch of salt
- 44g/3 tbsp unsalted butter, preferably good quality French-style and softened at room temperature
- 20g/4 and 1/4 tsps caster sugar (I used unrefined golden caster sugar)
- 13g/1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup (or sugar)
- 88g/3.1oz crema de leche: creamy dulce de leche made by whisking together 60g/3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp dulce de leche with 40g/ml liquid whipping cream (35% fat) – use all this mixture less 1.5–2 teaspoons (eat for testing purposes, wink)
- 77-80g beaten egg (from 1 and 1/2 medium large free-range eggs less half a teaspoon)
- scant 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla powder
- 35g/3 and 1/2 tbps chocolate drops, milk or dark semi-sweet
- A little extra milk or cream if your mixture is too stiff
Note: the smaller round cake may only take 20 minutes to bake.
- place plastic circle on a plate/board and your cake ring on top. Line inside of cake ring with acetate strip.
- Drain Greek Yoghurt 4-5 hours or overnight in a sieve over a bowl, in the fridge. You need to drain 200g/7oz to obtain 150g/5.3oz for frosting.
- Slice chocolate sponge horizontally to make 2 layers.
Ingredients (for bigger 20cm/8in cake multiply quantities by 2.75, though it’s hard to estimate quantity of strawberries; or make 2 mini 12cm cakes and simply double quantities)
- 350-450g (12.3-15.8oz) fresh strawberries, rinsed and patted dry (make a smoothie with any remaining or freeze)
- For optional maceration: a little lime juice + 1/2 tsp sugar or pure maple syrup (macerate 1 to 2 hours)
- Frosting ingredients: about 150g/5.3oz greek yoghurt (drained of liquid); 50g/1.8oz mascarpone (or drained ricotta); 20g/5 tsp ground xylitol; 4g/1/2 tbsp coconut flour; optionally 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Optional soaking syrup: 1-2 tsp pure maple syrup + 1-2 tsp kirsch cherry liqueur
- Slice strawberries to make rounds about 0.75 thick (use immediately or optionally macerate then pat dry).
- Cover base with bigger or medium-sized slices, filling smaller spaces with smaller slices (reserve small tips for middle).
- Place slices in a similar fashion on the sides starting from the bottom upwards. If strawberries are falling down put back up or wait until you are applying frosting to help stick them.
- Whisk frosting ingredients together until combined and fluffy.
- Carefully cover strawberry slices with layer of frosting so they stay in place, keeping frosting aside for the middle.
- Trim 1st chocolate sponge layer around edges so it fits inside strawberries. Carefully place inside.
- Spread a layer of frosting and strawberries on sponge, keeping aside a little frosting. Make sure you leave enough space for 2nd sponge layer.
- Spread remaining frosting around and up the sides with an offset spatula, butter knife or back of metal spoon. This makes sure the sides are completely covered with either strawberry slices or frosting.
- Carefully place second sponge layer (it may not be necessary to trim sides to fit).
- You can now turn sponge over (keep plastic layer on as protection during storage) or wait until next day. I felt it was safer to do it immediately in case juices ran down but the ‘official’ recipe says wait. Store overnight in fridge in airtight tupperware. If upside down be careful the cake doesn’t slide around on the plastic and smudge the design.
Eating and storing
Next day carefully remove the cake ring and acetate (plastic) strip. If strawberries have a little frosting on them clean up a bit with a damp paper towel. Wait 20 minutes for cake to mellow out at room temperature. Slice and serve. Yum yum.
Another healthier fraisier
If you’re interested there’s another healthier more traditionally constructed fraisier on the blog.
But I’m really very fond of this modernist version. It makes an interesting change and if you’re into flavours and textures then this is the Fraisier for you!
Let’s have a slice of crazy paving Modernist strawberry chocolate cake! 🙂
Bye for now dear readers, hope you’re all keeping well! Wishing you a safe month ahead during this bumpy ride of a year. With some happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x