Introducing the “Figgier,” your new fig fraisier cake recipe for special occasions, holidays, and birthdays. This autumnal cake is a bit of a project so plan ahead. Based off of the classic French fraisier cake, it includes layers of sponge cake, cream, and fresh strawberries. While the original is delicious, it requires in-season strawberries to really shine. We deserve cake all year round, so this version uses dried figs in place of fresh berries!
Some Tips to Be Successful with This Fig Fraisier Cake Recipe:
1. Take your time! This fraisier cake recipe involves a number of steeping and chilling steps, and the more time you allow for these steps, the better your final result will be. For example, steep the almonds in cream for the toasted almond pastry cream for as long as possible. Leave time to chill the final cake for at least 4 hours as well to ensure the best final presentation.
2. Don’t have acetate? Don’t stress! Acetate can be replaced by anything that has nonstick properties and is stiff enough to stand up in a cake pan. Parchment paper or sheets of plastic (like the kind used as binder dividers) both work fine.
3. While the traditional fraisier cake involves slicing one layer of cake into two rounds, this version has you bake off two thin layer cakes for simplicity. If you only have one cake pan, you can easily just put all of the batter in one cake and then slice the final cake into two layers. Just remember that you’ll need to increase the baking time 10-15 minutes for a thicker layer! If you’re using a single cake layer, make sure you slice it into 2 layers before freezing.
4. Freeze the cake layers after they’ve baked and cooled. I freeze cake layers wrapped well in plastic wrap to keep them from drying out or absorbing any freezer odors. Working with frozen cake will make the assembly much, much easier.
5. If any of the flavors listed below don’t suit you, feel free to leave them out. You can make plain pastry cream by skipping the infusion with toasted almonds (and that would also save time too). You can also leave the lemon and/or thyme out of the cake layers for something more simply flavored.
6. The top of this cake is decorated simply to allow the dried figs bordering the edges to really shine. You can top the cake with dried or fresh figs, sprigs of herbs, a dusting of powdered sugar, or nothing at all!
7. The final cake can be stored in the refrigerator, unsliced and still wrapped in acetate, for up to 12 hours. Once sliced, the cake can be stored in the refrigerator, well covered, for up to 5 days.
“Figgier” — Fig Fraisier Cake Recipe
Lemon Almond Thyme Cake
- 200 grams granulated sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves , removed from the stems
- 110 grams canola oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
- 2 large eggs
- 240 grams sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 60 grams almond flour
- 160 grams all-purpose flour
Toasted Almond Pastry Cream
- 135 grams whole raw almonds
- 300 grams milk (plus 10-50 grams as needed)
- 80 grams brown sugar
- 14 grams cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 105 grams unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- Soaked almonds
- 35 grams granulated sugar
- 110 grams (about 10) Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs , diced
- 265 grams water
- 35 grams brown sugar
- 2 strips lemon zest , peeled from a lemon with a vegetable peeler
- Toasted Almond Pastry Cream
- 100 grams heavy cream
- Toasted Almond Diplomat Cream
- Fig Filling , fully cooled
- 13-15 Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Mission Dried Figs
- Candied almonds , fully cooled
Lemon Thyme Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Put parchment rounds into the bottom 2 8-inch cake pans. Place a strip of parchment around the edges of each pan as well, so that the bottom and sides are fully lined.
- Place the sugar, lemon zest, and thyme in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine, until the sugar is fragrant and light green from the thyme. Transfer the scented sugar to a medium-sized bowl.
- To the bowl, add the oil, eggs, and sour cream. Whisk to combine fully. Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, almond flour, and flour to the bowl. Mix well to ensure that the dry ingredients are well combined.
- Divide the batter between the two lined cake pans. You will have approximately 430 grams per pan. Spread the batter out into flat layers. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes, until the tops are golden and spring back when you touch them lightly.
- Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the parchment sides from around each cake. Then invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and peel the parchment round from the bottoms of each cake. Cool the cakes completely.
- Once cooled, wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap. Freeze the cake layers for at least 12 hours, until completely frozen.
Toasted Almond Pastry Cream
- FIRST, MAKE THE TOASTED ALMOND CREAM:
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast them until deeply brown and aromatic – about 20 minutes.
- Pour the milk into a heatproof container. Heat it in the microwave or on the stove until it’s simmering. Add the almonds to the warmed milk. No need to cool the almonds before adding them. Let the steeping almonds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, and then transfer the mixture to the refrigerator.
- Steep the Toasted Almond Cream for at least 8 hours, or up to 4 days. The longer you steep, the stronger the almond flavor will be.
- MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM:
- Strain the almond-steeped milk into a pot. The quantity of milk that will strain out is dependent on how long you soaked the almonds. The longer you soak, the less milk will strain into the pot. (Set the soaked almonds aside – you’ll use them later). Add additional milk to the almond milk until you have a total of 240 grams. Bring the milk to a simmer.
- In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk well to combine and remove any lumps. Add 1 egg to the bowl and whisk well to blend. Add the 2nd egg and whisk. Slowly stream the hot almond milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Once all the milk has been added, transfer the mixture back to the pot.
- Return the pot back to the stove and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring vigorously, for 1 full minute.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and almond extract. The pastry cream may look lumpy at this point. You can use a blender or immersion blender to smooth out the mixture. If you don’t have a blender, whisk the mixture very, very hard for 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a storage container and store, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Toss the soaked and strained almonds (it’s okay if they’re still a little bit wet) with the sugar. Place the almonds on a baking sheet.
- Bake the almonds for 45-60 minutes, until the sugar is a toasty brown and the almonds have dried out. Cool them fully. Use the almonds to garnish the cake, but will have some left over.*
- Combine the chopped figs, water, brown sugar, and lemon zest in a small pot.
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 40 minutes, until the figs are soft.
- Remove the lid and boil the mixture over high heat for 5 minutes, until the liquid looks syrupy. Cool completely.
- Whisk the cream to medium peaks.
- Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and stir briefly to loosen it. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the almond cream into the whipped cream. Fold the remaining 2/3 of the almond cream into the whipped cream.
Assemble the Cake
- Place one frozen cake layer into the base of an 8” cake pan with a removable bottom (or an 8” cake ring seated on a plate or cake board)
- Place a wide strip of acetate around the edges of the cake, snuggling it down so that it is stuck between the edges of the cake and the sides of the pan. Don’t worry if you can’t get the strip of acetate to the very base of the pan – as long as it’s below the top edge of the cake layer, that’s fine. The strip of acetate should be at least 6” wide so that it can encompass the whole cake once assembled.
- Cut each dried fig in half lengthwise. Place the figs, cut side out, around the edge of the cake pan. Press them flush against the acetate. Keep adding figs until the entire perimeter of the cake has been lined.
- Transfer a portion of the almond cream to a piping bag. Use a large round tip, or just snip the tip off of the piping bag. Pipe the almond cream into the crevasses between each fig. Dollop ½ of the remaining cream into the center of the cake.
- Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the cream out into a smooth layer. Spoon the fig filling into the center of the cream, keeping it away from the edges of the cake. Press down lightly so that it's seated in the cream.
- Top the fig filling with the remaining almond cream. Nudge the cream to the edges until it fully covers the figs lining the sides of the cake. Smooth in into a flat layer, but don’t worry if it’s not perfectly flat.
- Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the almond cream. It may be tricky to get the cake inside the acetate ring, but wiggle it around until it goes in. Press the cake layer down until it’s firmly seated against the cream layer. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Twenty minutes before decorating and serving, remove the cake from the cake pan/ring, but leave the acetate on. Then transfer the chilled cake to the freezer. This last-minute freeze will ensure that the acetate releases cleanly from the cream.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and decorate with whipped cream, figs, candied almonds, sprigs of herbs, or leave it plain! Serve immediately.