Paris Pastry Club
Helen Cathcart

A fraisier can either mean garden strawberries or a gorgeous entremet (dessert cake). And while I’ve tried growing a potager many times with varying success, my fraisier entremet is always a hit.

At home, we used to eat it for Sunday lunch after a roast chicken of some sorts, as soon as the first strawberries would make the farmers market stands glow like red gemstones. And, of course, for my birthday, which happily falls at the beginning of May – at the very start of my favourite season.

Making a fraiser is not complicated. You have to start with the crème pâtissière and the génoise sponge, which both need to cool down for quite some time. Once the sponge is baked and cold it is unmoulded by running a small sharp knife around the edges of the metal ring. This step can be quite tricky but is nothing to be afraid of. Just go for it and a stunning fraisier will only be a few minutes away!

For the sponge


Quantity Ingredient
75g caster sugar
75g plain flour, sieved

For the syrup

Quantity Ingredient
250g water
175g caster sugar

For the crème pâtissière

Quantity Ingredient
500g whole milk
3 vanilla pods, with their seeds
4 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
50g cornflour

For the crème mousseline

Quantity Ingredient
150g butter, at room temperature
icing sugar, to dust
500g strawberries, washed and halved


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and place a 20 cm metal ring on it.
  2. First make the sponge. Combine the eggs and caster sugar with a whisk in a heatproof bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water and gently whisk the egg mixture until it feels hot to the touch; it should be around 50°C, but I like to use my little finger to test it instead of a probe. If you feel some heat after a few seconds then it’s ready.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk vigorously for 3 minutes. Or transfer to a stand-mixer and beat on a high speed. Then reduce the speed and keep whisking until the mixture has cooled down. It should form a thick glossy mass with millions of tiny air bubbles.
  4. Fold in the flour and stop mixing as soon as you’ve got rid of any lumps. The batter should still be somewhat firm and hold soft peaks.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared ring and bake for 18–20 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch. Leave to cool completely, then run a small paring knife carefully around the edge of the cake and lift off the ring. Set aside while you make the other components or tightly wrap in clingfilm and freeze for up to a month.
  6. Now make the syrup: simply place the water and sugar in a pan, and bring to the boil. Allow to cool down and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
  7. To make the crème pâtissière (you can do this up to 3 days ahead), bring the milk and vanilla pods and seeds to a rolling boil in a medium pan set over moderate heat.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to prevent the egg yolks from clumping. Add the cornflour and mix well until combined. When the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and pour a third of it over the egg mixture, whisking as you do so. This step is key when making crème pâtissière as it loosens the egg yolks but also tempers them, avoiding any lumps.
  9. Pour all of the egg mixture back into the remaining milk in the pan, return to the heat and cook slowly, whisking at all times, until it starts to thicken and boil.
  10. Once it has bubbled for a few minutes, transfer to a plastic container and lay clingfilm over the surface to avoid the formation of a skin. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before using.
  11. When you are ready to assemble your fraisier, place a 20 cm metal ring onto a serving plate and line it with a strip of 6 cm wide acetate (or a strip of baking paper 65 x 6 cm).
  12. Slice the génoise sponge in half with a large bread knife and place the top half of the sponge in the bottom of the ring with its cut-side up. Brush generously with syrup. Arrange strawberries around the edge, taking care to use even-sized fruit. Set aside while you make the crème mousseline.
  13. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add 600 g of crème pâtissière, one third at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the crème pâtissière has been added, whisk for 5 minutes. The mousseline should be firm and glossy.
  14. If the butter has seized a little, simply place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water for a few seconds before beating for a minute or two. Repeat until all the butter has disappeared and you’re left with a gorgeously thick crème mousseline.
  15. Spoon a third of the mousseline over the sponge and use a palette knife to spread it over the cake and the strawberries around the sides. Arrange a layer of halved strawberries over the mousseline, then pour the remaining crème mousseline over, smoothing the top with your palette knife. Top with the second half of sponge, cut-side down, and press gently and evenly to sandwich it all together. Brush generously with syrup.
  16. Chill for at least 4 hours and for up to 1 day.
  17. Carefully lift off the ring and delicately peel the rhodoid or parchment from the side of the cake. Serve dusted with icing sugar.


  • In cookery terms, this usually means to combine two mixtures without deflating the batter. This can be done with either a whisk or a rubber spatula.

    I find the whisk to be the quicker method, but can only advise you to master folding using a spatula before moving on to the whisk.

    The correct movement is to start in the centre of the bowl – this is something I insist on a lot, ask any of my commis – then go up the side of the bowl and turn it counter-clockwise as you do so. Stop folding as soon as the streaks/traces disappear as you do not want to overmix and lose air.
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