Adapted from the Boulangerie Ackermann, Les Tuileries-de-Grandson

My recent visit to the lovely Boulangerie Ackermann was filled with delicate sights and flavors such as this raspberry dessert, a cross between a cake and a tart.  Though the base is a simple sponge cake layer, the dessert has all the delicacy of a larger cake or a tart, but is much lighter.  The method is of course adaptable to other fruit and berries.


Sponge Base (recipe follows)

Pastry Cream Filling

3/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 half-pint baskets fresh raspberries

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

Assorted berries and fruit to decorate

  1. For the pastry cream, Combine the milk, cream, and half the sugar in a small saucepan and whisk to mix. Place over low heat and bring to a full boil.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks in a bowl and whisk in the remaining sugar. Sift over and whisk in the flour.
  3. When the milk boils, whisk it into the yolk mixture. Strain the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Use a small, pointed-end whisk to whisk constantly, especially in the corners of the pan, until the cream comes to a full boil and thickens. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Scrape the cream into a glass or stainless steel bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface. Chill until cold.
  5. To assemble, use a apstry bag to pipe the pastry cream on the sponge base in a series of overlapping teardrop shapes. Arrange the berries on the pastry cream.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Sponge Base

Thanks to my friend Kyra Effren, one of the world’s great bakers, for sharing this recipe.  Kyra often serves this as a tea cake with a think layer of raspberry preserves between the layers and a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar over the top – it’s elegant simplicity at its best.

Two 9-inch (22.5-cm) round layers, each about 1 1/2 inches (3.75 cm) deep

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/2 ounces/60 grams) unsalted butter

1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Two 9-inch (22.5-cm) round cake pans, 1 1/2 to 2 inches (3.75 to 5cm) deep, buttered and the bottoms lined with a disk of parchment paper or buttered wax paper

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter is completely melted.  Set aside in the pan.
  3. Stir the flour and baking powder together and sift onto a piece of wax paper.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the eggs to break them up, then whisk in the salt.  Whisk in the sugar in a steam, then whisk in the vanilla.  Place on the mixer and whip on medium-high speed until very light, about 3 minutes.
  5. Gently whisk in the milk mixture.  Use the whisk to fold the flour into the liquid in 4 additions – using the whisk helps to prevent lumps from forming.  Handle the whisk exactly as though you were using a rubber spatula for the folding.
  6. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  7. Bake the layers until they are well risen, golden and firm when touched in the center with a fingertip, about 20 minutes.
  8. Use a sharp paring knife to loosen the layers from the sides of the pans, then invert to racks.  Immediately re-invert the layers so that they cool with the paper on the bottom.  Cool completely.