A decadent Strawberry Cream Puff (Choux) Cake combines layers of puff pastry and a creamy strawberry compote finished with vanilla bean whipped cream on the outside. Perfect for that special occasion!
One of the things I love best about baking is the inherent challenge. Baking is not as open to experimentation as cooking as it does rely on more exact proportions to achieve desired results. Add that to my living at 6200′ and the challenge is heightened even more, literally! So when I joined a new monthly baking group called Baking on the 15th, I was excited to be challenged but also anticipated that it would be fun to collaborate with other bakers through this process.
A friend of mine, Kelly Wright, who had previously participated in The Daring Bakers group for years, thought this would be a fun way for old members and new to continue with a monthly baking adventure. She started the group and is also hosting the first challenge providing us with a recipe for Strawberry Choux (Creme Puff) Cake from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg. This Strawberry Choux Cake is two layers of pâte à choux filled with a strawberry compote cream that is then iced with Chantilly cream and topped with toasted choux. Powdered sugar and fresh strawberries complete the finished product.
The original recipe called for 2 separate cakes; each two layers of the choux pastry filled with the strawberry layer before being iced and garnished. I revised my version fairly significantly as we had a birthday on the block and I’ve gotten in the habit of making a birthday cake and hosting a short celebration whenever that happens. I decided to combine more layers into one cake to accomplish that and just for fun, I made some small cream puffs for decoration. Trust me there was PLENTY of choux dough and I’ll be honest…if making this again, I would cut the recipe in half. I had enough leftover of all ingredients to make a berry trifle as well.
The original recipe calls for ammonium carbonate as a leavening agent. Because I live so high up in the air, I decided to forego it completely; I doubted cream puff pastry would need additional leavening and I’m glad I didn’t spend time on that search. If you can easily locate it and you’re not at altitude, you should give it a try as it is supposed to add an extra bit of crispness to the final product.
The only thing not evident on my cake are the toasted choux leftovers suggested for the top. I had so many ingredients leftover that I opted instead to use it for a trifle I concocted with them and the toasted choux went on top of that. I figured that topping mine with little whipped cream filled cream puffs was enough. The kids who came over with their parents LOVED those little things and they quickly disappeared!
I had a couple of friends take on this challenge too; take a peek at www.barbarabakes.com for another variation as well as some great photos of the process and a video Barbara made on how to make choux pastry. I had great intentions but I’m telling you that spring yardwork is winning at everything!
This cake is not hard but it takes some time; for me I found it worked best to split up the process; I baked the pastry one day and finished it with the strawberry filling and assembly the next. I’m anxious to try it again with different fruits and maybe, just maybe I’ll take that leap of faith and go four layers! It was a day though to luxuriate in the kitchen; to just enjoy the challenge and have fun with it. We had a late spring storm in Denver when I made it so it was perfect; music blaring and stuck inside with choux…pretty perfect in my book!
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