For the first –our Easter cake– I used the sweet brioche instead of any other base to make a fresh strawberry treat. The other half of the dough I flattened, sprinkled with chopped semi-sweet chocolate, and ground almonds, then rolled into a loaf, and baked. Had I seen Lior’s Babka I would have cut and twisted the rolled dough to make it more spectacular.
Fresh Strawberry Cake
HALF of the Mallorca Buns dough (orange-flavored, sweet brioche-like) preferably prepared the day before, left to rise in the refrigerator, then taken out 2-3 hours before so that it comes to room temperature before proceeding further
1 1/2 pound fresh strawberries –preferably organic rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons or more Grand Marnier, or other good-quality citrus-flavored liqueur
400 grams heavy cream, VERY cold
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar (to taste)
250 grams mascarpone
Line a 9-inch (23 cm) square or round pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 375 F (200 C).
Lay the dough on the lined pan, making sure you press it equally so that it is about the same thickness all over. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile cut the stems and leaves of most strawberries, keeping some of the small, pretty looking ones for decoration.
Bake the brioche for about 20 minutes, in the middle of the oven, or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Make a fast strawberry Jam: Quarter half of the fruit and transfer to a small saucepan adding 2/3 cup sugar. Cook in medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until frothy and soft. Let cool in the pan. Transfer 2/3 of the jam to a bowl, and to the rest add 1 cup water and the rest of the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes to make the syrup.
With a large knife cut the brioche horizontally, and douse both pieces with the syrup. Splash with liqueur and let the brioche absorb the liquids and soften.
Beat the cream with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (depending on how sweet you prefer the cream) and when stiff enough, fold in the mascarpone, using a wire-whisk. Transfer to the refrigerator until needed.
In a bowl quarter the rest of the strawberries, or cut into smaller pieces if too large, add the rest of the sugar, sprinkle with half the liqueur, toss and let in the refrigerator to macerate.
Assemble the cake: Place one piece of the syrup-soaked brioche to a plate and spread the strawberry jam over the surface. Cover with the second piece, and if you like, splash with some more liqueur.
Spread half of the cream-mascarpone over the surface and scatter most of the strawberries over the cream, decorating with the most beautiful ones that you have reserved.
Transfer to the refrigerator for up to 3 hours. Cut and serve, presenting the rest of the cream, and the remaining macerated strawberries on the side.
Chocolate and Almond Loaf
HALF of the Mallorca Buns dough (orange-flavored, sweet brioche-like) preferably prepared the day before, left to rise in the refrigerator, then taken out 2-3 hours before so that it is at room temperature before proceeding further
125 grams (4 ounces) bitter-sweet chocolate chopped with a knife
1 cup coarsely ground almonds
Line a cake pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 375 F (200 C).
On a lightly floured surface spread the dough with your palms, or with a floured rolling pin, to make a rectangle, roughly about 8X11 inches (20X28 cm).
Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate and the almonds allover the surface and then roll the dough to create a loaf. Press and slightly twist the roll if you like. It is OK if the dough breaks a bit and some of the stuffing spills out.
Let rest for 20-30 minutes, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting to serve.
I like it better the next day…