“I wish there was a cookbook for life, you know? Recipes telling us exactly what to do”, says Catherine Zeta-Jones character Kate, in the movie No Reservations.
Ah, a little book to give us all of the answers and the directions, that if followed correctly, would lead to success and the perfectly executed life. That may sound nice but aren’t the little surprises, twists and turns what makes it all so much fun? Okay, not always, but life would be boring if we knew the plan and ultimate destination, right? Serendipity is enchanting, unpredictability is amusing and self discovery…inspiring.
While spring is not quite here, I am already anticipating it. As I look out my kitchen window, I see the green buds on the tree branches just beginning to reveal themselves and the tips of crocus and daffodils pushing up through the soil. After the somewhat dull monotone palette of winter, the tease of warmth and the approaching colors of spring excite me and have me thinking of sweet juicy berries and fresh hues and flavors of the season of renewal.
Here is a beautiful springtime dessert that is perfect for brunch, served with tea, or as Ric and I ate it, sitting in front of the television watching a sweet foodie movie, No Reservations!
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk or half and half, heated
1 tablespoon almond extract
In a saucepan with no heat on, whisk together the egg yolks with the sugar for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture becomes a lemon yellow color. Add the flour and whisk in until combined, then very slowly, add in the warmed milk or half and half while continually whisking.
Turn on the heat to medium and continue to stir with whisk as the pastry cream heats. As the mixture comes to a boil the cream may begin to lump; beat quickly with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you go, and the cream will begin to smooth out. Cook until the mixture is thick and heavily coats the spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
For the sponge cake:
1/3 cup sifted all purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large eggs, separated
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
Grease an 11×15 sheet pan and line with parchment paper that overhangs the edges of the pan by an inch. Butter and flour the parchment.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch and salt.
With and electric mixer, beat the eggs and yolks together with 1/2 cup of sugar for a total of 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick, fluffy, and triples in volume. Add the vanilla to the egg mixture and beat a few more minutes. Very gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs until just combined.
In a medium size bowl, beat the egg whites on low until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until you have stiff shiny peaks.
Mix a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the flour and egg mixture and then gently fold in the rest of the egg white until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes and then remove from oven.
Note: Because you are using such a hot oven, check the cake as it is baking to make sure it doesn’t overcook due to discrepancy in oven temperatures. The sponge should be a light golden brown.
Sprinkle a clean tea towel with powdered sugar and carefully invert the finished sponge onto it. Remove the baking parchment, and then loosely roll the sponge up lengthwise and let it cool.
For the filling:
6 ounce container of Driscoll’s organic blueberries, washed
1 pound container of Driscoll’s organic strawberries, washed and sliced
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon sugar
Beat whipping cream with sugar and almond extract until stiff.
Fold the whipped cream and pastry cream together until well combined.
Gently unroll the sponge and spread with a layer of the cream mixture. Sprinkle the strawberries and blueberries evenly across the cream covered sponge cake. Roll up the cake again then place the roll on a serving platter seam side down. Cover with foil and chill for at least one hour.
Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and decorate with whole strawberries.