Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Crème Fraiche

Cooking With Rania - "Welcoming Summer"
KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live 6/20/2012

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Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Crème Fraiche

1 pound strawberries - hulled
3/4 cup and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (see recipe below)

1/2 cup almonds (blanched)
1 cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
10 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted and cooled
Zest of 1 lemon - minced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 cup crème fraiche (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan.

Cut the berries lengthwise into thin slices and place them in a medium size bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (see below), toss, and let macerate for 1 hour.

Place the almonds and 1 tablespoon of the 3/4 cup vanilla sugar in a food processor, and process until finely ground.

Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl. Place the eggs in the bowl of a large mixer, add the remaining vanilla sugar, and beat until the mixture is pale yellow, light and fluffy. Beat in the butter, the zest, and the lemon juice. Then add the ground almonds and the flour, mixing just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place the pan on a baking sheet, and bake in the center of the oven until the cake is golden and puffed, and springs back when touched with a finger - about 35 - 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes or a wire rack. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, remove the sides of the pan, and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.

Just before serving the cake, whip the crème fraiche with the vanilla extract just until it holds soft peaks (not stiff). Remove the cooled cake from the pan bottom to a serving platter, and serve it with the berries and cream.

Serves: 8

To make vanilla sugar:
Take 8 cups sugar and place in an airtight container. Push 2 vanilla beans down into the sugar and cover well. Let the sugar and vanilla ripen for at least one week.

Crème Fraiche
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Combine 2 cups heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of buttermilk in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Store in a warm spot of your kitchen for 24 hours.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

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