Fraisier cake (French strawberry cake) consists of buttery sponge layers filled with incredibly delicious and silky Crème mousseline (pastry cream enriched with butter), a layer of refreshing strawberry compote, and the signature strawberry decoration around the cake. No doubt, Fraisier cake is the Queen of the Strawberry cakes and it´s easier to make than you might think!
Fraisier cake origin
Fraisier is derived from the French word “fraise" meaning strawberry, sound fancy? So Fraisier cake literally means Strawberry cake and it is as famous in France as for example the Victoria sponge cake in the UK (that is a British take on Strawberry cake) or the Strawberry shortcake in the US.
It is said that originally, this French strawberry cake was invented as a tribute to strawberries since the only available strawberries in France before the 19th century were very small wild strawberries. In the 1930s new types of strawberries became available in France and the rest of Europe for use in desserts, and the Fraisier cake was created.
Traditionally, the cake consists of one or two layers of genoise sponge, vanilla-flavored Créme mousseline, and strawberries. Nowadays, besides the traditional round shape cake, the rectangle design is also popular like the one below from the famous French pastry shop, Laduree. In terms of the size, today I am teaching you how to make the traditional full-sized cake but mini versions can be also super decorative! What is common in all these types of Fraisier cakes is the signature half strawberry decoration around the cake.
If you love French desserts, make sure to check out my ultimate best French pastries list with recipes!
Why this is the best Fraisier cake recipe
- It is rather easy – As fancy as it looks, making French Fraisier cake is although a step-by-step process, in fact, rather easy! The sponge layers are literally a few ingredients only, the mousseline cream can also be done rather quickly and easily. The one part you need to pay attention to is assembling the cake, but I will teach you how to do it easily
- It is super delicious – I never compromise on taste! Buttery, rich sponge layers, luxurious vanilla bean Créme mousseline, and refreshing strawberries make this Fraisier cake absolutely irresistible! It is creamy, fruity, rich, but very well balanced in sweetness and super refreshing! You will love it!
- It is an honest, detailed tutorial – While this recipe might look long, all the information I have written here, every tips and tricks will help you achieve the perfect results without any issues on the way. Remember, baking is science and every little detail written here is to help YOU!
What is mousseline cream
Crème Mousseline (also called German buttercream) is a silky, fluffy yet stable cream made of pastry cream and butter. It can be used as a cream filling for cakes, cupcakes and it is also super popular in French-style recipes eg. Sable Breton tart or Paris Brest.
Crème pâtissière (pastry cream) is the perfect base for other custard-like creams:
- Crème Diplomat: Crème Diplomat is a lighter version of the French Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière). Basically, it is Crème Pâtissière with added whipped cream and gelatin (optionally). Whipped cream makes it lighter and fluffier and the gelatin makes it more stable. Gelatin is not strongly needed, depending on the type of cake
- Crème Mousseline: Crème Mousseline is classic Pastry Cream enriched with fluffy butter that makes the pastry cream extra rich and also more stable to pipe kind of like buttercream but way more delicious.
This Fraisier cake is filled with vanilla bean Crème Mousseline, you will love it!
Note: I tried this French Fraisier cake recipe using Creme Diplomat too, however, I find Creme Mousseline is richer, more stable especially for beginners who might not be fully aware of how to cook thick pastry cream and how to properly fold it with cream without breaking it.
For the sponges
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content European-style butter in all my recipes. In this recipe, butter needs to be at room temperature which technically means soft enough to be able to cream but not too soft or runny so avoid last-minute microwaving
- Powdered Sugar: For the creaming method while making the sponge cake use powdered sugar/icing sugar. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Egg: Room temperature as always
- Flour: All-purpose flour or pastry flour works well. They are so-called "soft flour" which are low on protein resulting in a delicate, tender texture. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of dessert recipes. Balances flavor and enhances other ingredients
- No baking powder: No baking powder is needed in this sponge recipe. What we are making is a relatively thin layer of sponge to hold the cake. In contrast to traditional tall, airy sponge cakes, our sponge will be rather buttery and dense yet soft and moist.
For the Crème mousseline (also called German buttercream)
- Milk: Use high-fat content milk, the highest you can get! It makes a huge difference when it comes to the deepness of the taste
- Sugar: Simple, white granulated sugar is perfectly fine
- Egg: Some pastry cream recipes call for whole egg however I strongly advise using egg yolk only for the best texture and flavor. Perhaps try my pavlova recipe if you want to use up your egg whites? Another, maybe not so obvious note is that the color of your egg yolk will dictate the color of your pastry cream. Farm eggs make super yellow pastry cream, on the other hand, supermarket eggs are usually way paler
- Flour: Flour is one of the thickening agents in this pastry cream recipe, use All-purpose flour. No, it won’t taste like flour!
- Starch: Corn starch is the other thickening agent in the recipe, theoretically you could only use flour OR only starch however I prefer 50%-50%.
- Vanilla: Vanilla is THE heart of making pastry cream! Avoid using artificial vanilla. There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend. I use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract for my pastry cream for the deepest, most delicious vanilla cream
- Butter: Use unsalted as per above. Room temperature is key here. If too cold, it won’t incorporate properly. If too hot/liquid, it will make the pastry cream runny. We will use butter twice, first when making the pastry cream then when making mousseline cream out of the pastry cream
Exact ingredient quantities can be found in the RECIPE CARD, at the bottom of this page
For the strawberry compote, strawberry jelly, and decoration
- Strawberry: Strawberry is used 4 x in this Fraisier cake recipe! For the side, use fresh strawberries cut into halves. For the decoration I suggest using again fresh strawberries cut into halves, I think the cake is so pretty anyway, you don´t need to overdo the decoration. For the strawberry compote insert in the middle and the jelly on top fresh or frozen strawberry works too, I am using frozen
- Sugar: A small amount of granulated sugar will be used to make the compote and jelly
- Gelatin: It´s an odorless, tasteless, and colorless thickening agent, very often used in pastries particularly in mousse cakes. Powder or sheet versions are available, in my recipes I always use sheet (1,7 g / sheet), which I found easier to handle. Simple soak the gelatin sheet into cold water for a few minutes before you need them and use it according to the recipe. Sheet gelatin can be replaced with powder gelatin, 1 sheet = 1,7g gelatin powder. Please note that gelatin is not suitable for vegetarians. Agar agar can be a good substitution for vegetarians however can only be used by reformulating the recipe slightly
6 Expert tips regarding the technique
1. How to make the sponge layers
Making this sponge layer is extremely easy, what we are looking for is a thin, moist, buttery sponge layer to hold the filling. It is easier and quicker to make than Genoise sponge and richer as well that goes wonderful with the fluffy mousseline cream.
Please note that this sponge won´t be tall and fluffy and does not need to be, by the way, I have a tall and fluffy sponge cake recipe too for other cakes.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temp, particularly butter needs to be soft (but not melted) and egg must be also at room temperature for proper emulsification
- Measure all ingredients with a Digital scale
- Grease two 18 cm / 7 inch round cake pan
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 356°F
- With the help of an Electric hand mixer beat together room temperature butter and powdered sugar until creamy and fluffy, then mix in eggs slowly, a small amount at a time, and continue creaming the batter
- Sift in flour and salt then fold into the batter with a Rubber spatula just until combined
- Pour cake batter into the prepared pans making sure that they are identical in terms of volume of the cake batter. Use a Digital scale. Smooth the top with an Offset spatula
- Bake the sponges for about 10 min or until the sides of the sponges start to come off the side of the baking pan
- Carefully flip the sponges over to a Cooling rack and allow them to cool completely
2. How to make the strawberry insert
Making the strawberry compote insert to fill this cake can´t be easier!
- Soak gelatin sheets into cold water
- Cook strawberry, strawberry puree, sugar, lemon juice for 1-2 minutes until the mixture slightly thickens and the sugar fully dissolves
- Mix in gelatin sheet
- Once the gelatin is mixed in, pour the mixture into a 16cm / 6 inch silicone round pan and move it into the freezer
- Before it gets completely frozen, trim one of the 18cm / 7 inch sponges to 16cm / 6 inch and move it on top of the strawberry compote then freeze them together for 6 hours
The strawberry insert will have a wonderful natural strawberry taste that is not too sweet and its texture will be supported by the gelatin. The exact amount of sugar you need to use depends on the sweetness of the strawberries. I was using a frozen one and with the sugar, I state in the recipe the compote turned out to be rather tangy, not too sweet.
3. How to make pastry cream for the mousseline cream
Pastry cream is the most deliciously rich, silky and creamy custard-like cream filling used in many types of dessert. You will have to make a pastry cream first that will be turned into Crème mousseline at a later stage with fluffy, soft butter. I have a whole detailed Baking Guide with tons of tips about making the perfect pastry cream (Creme Patissiere), make sure you read it.
- In a large enough bowl with the help of a Hand whisk, mix together sugar and egg yolk until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes
- Mix in corn starch, flour, and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
- Bring milk to boil in a saucepan on medium heat then remove it as soon as it starts simmering. Make sure it is simmering but not crazy boiling
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk. This stage is effectively tempering the egg yolks and the mixture should already start to slightly thicken
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don’t worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy. It’s worth keeping a good quality (so that the milk won’t burn in it) small/medium-sized saucepan for making pastry cream only
- If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump-free, creamy end result
- Add in room temperature soft butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth adding the butter in 3 stages and mixing well after each addition
Pastry cream needs to be completely cooled to room temperature before using it to make the filling for the Paris-Brest. Place the cream into a shallow bowl or container and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid a skin forming on top.
4. The process of making mousseline cream
For this Fraisier cake recipe, we will be making a wonderful Crème mousseline. It is a rich, but not overly sweet cream, and very stable to pipe or to fill cakes.
The process is simple, however, you have to be careful with the temperature of the ingredients:
- It is very important that the pastry cream is cooled but not cold meaning either let it cool at room temp or cool it in the fridge then let it come back to room temperature
- The butter needs to be soft. Soft butter means soft enough without hard butter chunks for the mixer to cream it but do not melt it in the microwave as melted butter can´t be creamed
- If either pastry cream or butter is too cold or too warm, you won´t be able to whip up the mixture properly as either butter will stay in chunks or the entire mixture will break and curdle
- So once pastry cream is set but not cold and butter is soft, move butter into your Stand mixer fitted with your whisk attachment and start creaming the butter for a few minutes until it becomes fluffy. Alternatively, this can be also done with an Electic Hand mixer but pay close attention to the consistency of the cream
- Once butter is creamy and pale, start adding the room temperature pastry cream in 4 steps (adding always ¼ only) while the mixer is still on
- Cream mixture until it reached a fluffy, pipeable consistency. This will take about 3 minutes
- Make sure you do not over whip the cream at this point as it can get runny
5. How to assemble the cake
Patience is key when making layered mousse-type cakes, like this Fraisier cake recipe. You just can't rush certain steps or it will make a mess. Building up the layers is so easy, but you have to respect time, concretely leaving enough time in between the layers until it sets.
- Make the sponge layers and let them cool
- Make the strawberry insert and freeze it together with one of the sponges
- Make the pastry cream and let it cool to room temperature then whip it up with butter until fluffy (called mousseline cream)
- Wash and clean fresh strawberries then cut them into halves
Now it´s assembling time!
- Assemble the Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and set it to 18cm / 7 inch that is equal to the size of your sponge cake
- For a neat looking, smooth side surface use Acetate cake collar within the cake ring
- Start to build up the Fraisier cake from bottom to top
- Place the larger sponge into the mousse ring then arrange the strawberry halves on top of the sponge tightly cut side out
- Fill a Piping bag with mousseline cream and pipe cream on top of the sponge carefully and neatly fill the gaps in between the strawberry halves. When piping, make sure you carefully fill the gaps in between the strawberry halves, any inconsistency will be visible later when you open the mousse ring, which is not a big deal but won't look extremely neat
- Unmold the frozen strawberry insert from the silicone tin and place it on top (strawberry side down, sponge side up)
- Pipe the rest of the cream around and on top of insert
- Smooth the top with an Offset spatula
- Place the cake into the fridge for a few hours and let it set fully before proceeding with the strawberry jelly topping
6. How to decorate
To make the strawberry jelly:
- Soak gelatin sheets into cold water
- In a saucepan bring strawberry puree and sugar to boil
- Squeeze excess water from gelatin sheets and stir into the strawberry puree
- Wait until the puree is slightly cool, then pour it over the cake. The ideal temperature should be around room temperature meaning the jelly will be still runny and can be easily poured but not warm, which would melt the top of the cake. Make sure you do not wait until jelly completely cools as it will start to set and then you won´t be able to pour it
- Carefully pop the cake back into the fridge for a few hours until strawberry jelly sets
- Once the cake sets, carefully remove the Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and Acetate cake collar
- Decorate the top with fresh strawberries and edible flowers
How to make the cake side neat? Acetate cake collar is the secret! It's an inexpensive pastry chef hack that you can purchase from Amazon and just makes all the difference! Once the cake ring is set, place the Acetate cake collar inside the ring and start building the cake up from the bottom to top as stated in the recipe.
For a consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. This is absolutely a MUST
Yes, you can use traditional equipment (eg. springform)
Yes of course you can, this recipe works no matter what size or shape of cake you want to bake, however, you will need to adjust the baking time and ingredients accordingly
Yes, most probably you can, however, you can´t just replace flour with gluten-free flour 1:1 without reformulating the recipe. When one ingredient changes, some other ingredients need to be changed too in order to keep the balance in the texture and flavor
Probably you can, however just as making it gluten-free, you will need to adjust the ingredients somewhat if the egg is left out. Sadly, I am not able to provide substitutes for all sorts of allergies and diets
Yes, you can, however, you will need to use another thickening agent eg. agar-agar
You have to start with a pastry cream that is stable. Then, you will want to follow my tips about how to properly whip this kind of cream with the butter without the cream curdling. Just like making most other kinds of frosting, the temperature is key and most important is that you do not overwhip the mixture. Make sure that you stop whipping as soon as the mixture is fluffy and pipeable, as a minute later it will break and become runny. If the cream is not runny but more on the soft side, don´t worry, it will set in the fridge
Once you assemble the cake, it should be stored in the fridge. I suggest you cover the cake to make sure it does not absorb any smell from the fridge. Leftover cake - if there is any - should be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days in air-tight container.
Mousseline cream does not freeze well and might break, also the fresh strawberries on the side might become mushy once un-freezed, so overall I do not recommend freezing this cake.
Other Recipes with strawberry
Victoria Sponge cake - This Victoria sponge cake recipe combines strawberries and cream that are sandwiched together in my super delicious, moist, and fluffy sponge cake! Try Queen Victoria´s favorite cake! Recipe in here
Charlotte cake - This no-bake French Strawberry Charlotte cake recipe (Charlotte aux Fraises) consists of fluffy ladyfingers in and around the cake filled with incredibly silky Crème mousseline (pastry cream enriched with butter), and delicious fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Pistachio Tart - This Strawberry Pistachio tart consists of Pâte Sablée sweet shortcrust pastry filled with silky Pistachio ganache and topped with delicious fresh strawberries. Recipe in here
Make sure to also check out my Spring Desserts recipe collection!
Fraisier cake (French strawberry cake)
For the 2 Sponge layers
Strawberry compote insert
- 200 g (1⅓ cups) Strawberry use fresh or frozen strawberry
- 30 g (2 tablespoons) Granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
- 2 Gelatin sheet 1.7g gelatin / sheet
- 500 g (2 cups) Whole milk
- 100 g (½ cups) Granulated sugar
- 80 g (⅓ cups) Egg yolk approx. yolk of 5 eggs
- 25 g (⅕ cups) Corn starch
- 25 g (⅕ cups) AP flour
- 2 Teaspoon Vanilla bean paste
- 100 g (½ cups) Unsalted butter soft - will be mixed into pastry cream straight after it is cooked
- 100 g (½ cups) Unsalted butter will be whipped into the pastry cream to make the mousseline cream
- 150 g (1 cups) Strawberry pure use fresh or frozen strawberry
- 20 g (2 tablespoon) Granulated sugar
- 2 Gelatin sheets 1.7g gelatin / sheet
Decoration on the side and top
- 7-8 fresh strawberries cut into halves side
- 2-3 fresh strawberries top
- edible flower top
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Start with the pastry cream
- In a large enough bowl with the help of a Hand whisk, mix together sugar and egg yolk until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes
- Then, mix corn starch, flour, and vanilla into the egg yolk until throughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
- Bring milk to boil in a saucepan on medium heat then remove it as soon as it starts simmering. Make sure it is simmering but not crazy boiling, see my tips above
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don't worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy
- If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump free, creamy end result.
- Add in room temperature soft butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth to add the butter in 3 stages and mix well after each addition.
- Place the cream into a shallow bowl and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top. Let it cool
- Continue with the sponge by pre-heating oven to 180 C / 356°F
- With the help of a Electric hand mixer beat together room temperature butter and powder sugar until pale then mix in eggs, one at a time, continue whipping
- Sift in flour and salt then fold with a Rubber spatula just until combined
- Bake the sponge for 10 min or until a skewer inserted comes out clean
- Allow the sponge to cool completely on Cooling rack. Once cooled, trim one of the sponges to 16cm / 6inch, leave the other one as it is (18 cm / 7 inch)
- Continue with the strawberry compote insert by making strawberry puree, it is fine to leave in some strawberry pieces
- Soak gelatin sheets into cold water
- In a saucepan bring strawberry puree, sugar and lemon juice into boil, cook for a minute or two stirring constantly
- Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into the strawberry mixture
- Pour the strawberry compote into a 16 cm / 6 inch silicone round cake pan and place it into the freezer
- Once the strawberry insert almost fully set place the 16 cm / 6 inch sponge on top and freeze them together. When assembling the cake it is much easier to work with a frozen insert so make sure you don´t skip this step
Make the mousseline cream
- Crème mousseline can be made with room temp pastry cream and room temp butter. Make sure everything is at room temp otherwise the mixture might curdle
- Once pastry cream cooled to room temp, prepare the mousseline cream by whipping room temp butter first for 1-2 minutes. Start adding in the room temp pastry cream in 4 stages until cream reaches a stable yet fluffy texture
- Do not over whip the mixture as it can become runny
Assembling the cake
- Assemble the Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and set it to 18cm / 7 inch
- For a neat looking, smooth side surface use Acetate cake collar
- Start to build up the cake from bottom to top. Place the larger sponge into the mousse ring then arrange the strawberry halves on top of the sponge tightly
- Fill a Piping bag with the mousseline cream and pipe cream on top of the sponge carefully and neatly filling the gaps in between the strawberry halves.
- Place the frozen strawberry insert on top (strawberry side down, sponge side up)
- Pipe the rest of the cream around and on top of insert. Smooth the top with an Offset spatula
- Chill the cake in the fridge for 2 hours for the mousseline cream to set
- Once cake set, make the strawberry jelly topping
- Soak gelatin sheets into cold water. In a saucepan bring strawberry pure and sugar into boil. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into the strawberry puree
- Wait until the puree slightly cool, then pour it over the chilled cake
- Pop cake back to the fridge for 4 hours the jelly and entire cake to set
- Once cake fully sets carefully remove cake ring and acetate
- Decorate with fresh strawberries and edible flowers
- Store in fridge
- Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy
- Good quality butter and pure vanilla are the heart of making the cream. Use high-quality 82% fat content European butter and the best quality vanilla you can access
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details, and science behind baking.
- While baking the sponge layer, remember not to overbake it. Over baked sponge cake can become too dry
- While making Creme mousseline, it is crucial that both the pastry cream as well as the butter is at room temperature
- Make sure you do not open the cake tin before the cake actually sets