90 thoughts on “P&Q: Berry Surprise Cake

  1. Ok- I made the filling, and it was …. tasteless. Seriously, it needed more sugar and I added a boost of lemon juice to give it more flavor.It tastes like no-bake cheesecake filling! I left out the cake and made it parfait style, but since I had to use frozen berries instead of fresh, I ended up cooking them into a compote. The end result was good, just not outstanding.

  2. I added a little more sugar to the filling too and a tad bit more vanilla. It really isn’t too sweet, but with the cake it goes great.
    My cake sunk while it was in the oven, so I made another one and watched it sink a bit. I was a little worried and emailed Dorie. Her advice is to make sure you don’t get the eggs hot and to be very careful when folding in the other ingredients. She also said that this cake rises high and then falls a little bit by nature. So if you had a sinking problem just know that Dorie said that it is normal.
    I have to say that the cake with all its parts, is quite delicious.
    I also subbed raspberry extract for the liqueur in the syrup and it turned out good.

  3. I was also surprised at the filling, because of the high praise Dorie gives it in the book. It needed more sugar, and I rarely feel that way about a recipe. That 1 T. just doesn’t go very far. More vanilla would probably be good, too.

  4. I’m wondering if I could half the recipe and use a 6in (2 in tall) pan? I’ve read that an 8in holds 31/2c and a 6in holds 2c. Does this sound like it should work? Or would I be left with a not-tall-enough 6in?

  5. Hi Joy – If my math is correct(!), I think the 6 in would work for half the recipe. An 8″ round is 50.24 square inches, and a 6″ round is 28.26 square inches…I would think that’s close enough to half the size for it to work. I didn’t take the height into account because I don’t think that will be a problem in this case. Anyone is free to challenge my calculations though!

  6. Im thinking about skipping the berries, since I would have to use frozen, and making some lemon or lime curd instead.

    Glad to know the filling needs more sugar. I like my stuff SWEET!

  7. I don’t think this cake was meant to be sugary sweet however, sweet berries are hard to come by in January. I too, grew up on the cake that Dorie writes about in Brooklyn. I found the cake to be balanced; cream, berries, lightness of the genoise and the whipped cream.

  8. I think a 6″ pan should be great for half a recipe. To figure out how big a pan you need for half a recipe, multiply the diameter by 0.707. Multiply 8″ by that, and you end up with 5.656 which rounds off nicely to 6 inches. (5 1/2 inches would be even better but I’ve never seen a pan in that size.)

    I’m planning to do a half recipe for the cake. I think I will mound the cake batter up a little more at the sides of the pan so as to be sure the sides are high enough. I’m going to go with frozen home-grown black raspberries for the filling — probably I’ll make a compote with them as Megan did.

    Here are some ideas I had for other fruits, since fresh berries are not in season for most of us — canned pineapple or mandarin orange segments, fresh mandarin orange segments, cherry pie filling (drained), some sort of fruit jam mixed with fresh or frozen fruit, cooked apple slices with a little spice… flavor the syrup for the genoise to go with your fruit filling.

    I’m thinking the cake I pull out of the center might make a good trifle or parfaits.

  9. I made my cake with raspberries. It was tasty but sunk in the middle and was really short. I figure I may need to adjust my ingred. and baking time according to the high altitude here.

  10. Not great at reading recipes, I used icing sugar in the filling, as I always do with whipping cream, and found it just sweet enough. My cake rose fine, but I really have to get an 8″ pan. I used my 9″, so the cake was not as tall and pretty as I hoped. I used fresh strawberries, but I think frozen would have been fine since they’re in the middle of the cake.

  11. A friend of mine made this and said it didn’t rise *at* *all*, so she barely was able to scoop anything out of the center. I’m barely going to fit this one in, so I’m crossing my fingers it goes right.

  12. I’m going to go to the farmer’s market to see if I can find fresh raspberries, I’m not sure how much they are in the stores (I imagine up to $6 for a tiny thing). I’m not using liquor, so what is “raspberry syrup”? Simple syrup w/raspberries?? I also plan to make the coulis to drizzle over it.

  13. I am looking forward to making this in the weekend and I want to say thanks to mary Ann because berries are in season down here in NZ and this is the first time well baking with you guys that I have been able to make something in season! ;0)

  14. I live in the MW and am able to get fresh berries, ie strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. I’m not sure why, in the dead of winter, but they are delicious. Call me crazy… I buy them at Sam’s.

    Rachelle, easy syrup on the pancake syrup aisle Smuckers makes berry syrup for pancakes. mmm good on pancakes. If you don’t wont to cook and make you own. Oh yea if you want to make a coulis. Its way cheaper to use frozen. They are easy to find and looks don’t matter he he.

  15. I used some raspberry syrup from a gift I was given. It’s actually a icecream topping. It really was good. I was unable to cut my cake in the center since it had a crater in the middle..so I just piled the stuff in the center and frosted it. The syrup melts into the cake and gives it a moist sweet flavor.

  16. Dorie is not kidding when she says to treat the diva eggs with respect. I ticked mine off and they punished me with a cake that either did not rise, or rose a little and then deflated. Either way, I have a thin cake, and I can’t quite see how I can hollow it out to fill it with anything. I am going to taste it tomorrow to see if it is edible before using up any more ingredients, and if so, improvise some other way to put it together (trifle dish, maybe?).

    The problem is that as I was folding the dry ingredients into the eggs (gingerly, I swear!) I kept seeing these pockets of flour that I couldn’t help but try to break up (and couldn’t help but look for more flour pockets). In retrospect, I probably would have been better off just not worrying about stray flour. I could actually tell the moment that I’d gone too far with the mixing — it went from looking smooth to looking bubbly. I hoped against hope that it would do me right anyway, but it did not.

  17. I also insulted those diva eggs! Rats!

    They were looking lovely, and then I got caught up folding in the flour — I also kept seeing these flour pockets, and it even seemed like there were some lumps — and then all of the sudden I noticed that my batter had deflated. Argh. I made a whole recipe of batter and baked it in two 6″ pans. The batter was only about 1/4 inch deep in the pans — it did rise up to about 1/2 inch.

    If the two round are not too dense and awful, I’ll use them as top & bottom and just not have any cake sides to the torte. Otherwise it’s back to the drawing board…

    On a happier note, I made my first-ever home-made graham crackers and they turned out great! My hubby prompted pulled out the jar of peanut butter and devoured quite a few of them. I’m going to have to teach HIM to make them!

  18. Anne, I couldn’t find one when I looked either, and as it turned out my cake was such a brick (in a spectacular lapse of judgment I tried making it with gluten free flour and the egg divas were very unhappy) that I never got as far as the assembly stage!

  19. Cathy wrote: “I could actually tell the moment that I’d gone too far with the mixing — it went from looking smooth to looking bubbly.” I just finished, and I had the same experience. It turned into large bubbles. I’d halved the recipe, and the pan size I think worked ok, I didn’t have to worry about the pan not being tall enough! :) It still tastes pretty good!

  20. I am gonna add extra sweetness to the filling and also add some meringue powder to my cake batter to help it rise. Thanks for all the input. I love coming here. Wish me luck. I am starting mine tomorrow!

  21. I made this twice and it sunk both times–the second time I made some adjustments and it sunk much less, but still noticeably. I have made genoise in the past that don’t sink, so I don’t think it’s necessarily the nature of the cake. (Suggestions: omit the baking powder. After the eggs are whipped, separate out about a cup and fold the butter into that. Sift the flour over the remainder of the eggs in two additions, folding in gently, then add the buttered egg mixture last, folding just until incorporated. And don’t open the oven door while baking! Those helped me get the cake to sink less.)

    To those who are asking about a half batch: I made a full batch, but baked a 6″ cake. I baked the remainder in a small loaf pan, and was very glad I did, since it allowed me to fill the cake at the top during assembly, since my top sunk in. So consider the benefit of scraps before you decide to half the recipe.

    Like many other people, I added extra sweetener to the filling, because otherwise it tasted like straight cream cheese–not tasty.

    Overall I thought it was good–what’s not to like about cake, berries, and cream? The cream to cake and berry ratio was too high for my taste, and it was frustrating having the cake sink twice, but my husband really enjoyed it, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

  22. I goofed and forgot to buy heavy cream at the grocery store. The grocery store is a few blocks from here…but it’s cold out there. And I’m warm at home. what to do, what to do?

  23. I JUST made the batter and remembered a trick I learned from Martha. Maybe Ina…could’ve been Giada…perhaps it was Julia? ANYWAY….I saw one of them fold flour into an egg mixture using the whisk attachment. They literally sprinkled the flour on top and using a clockwise motion with the whisk, folded the flour in. I didn’t notice any deflation with the eggs…I hope this helps!

  24. First try the cake sunk some. I was extremely careful with the eggs. It wasn’t horrible but I decided to try a second time. I tried the tip to “fold” the flour in with the whisk. Just checked on the cake in the oven and it has totally deflated in the middle. Even worse than the first try. No good! Oh well, with two cakes I should be able to make it work.

  25. So nervous to try this – I am going to make half the recipe and try it in four mini springform pans. Will let you know how it goes. I am going to let the cake sit overnight to see if that helps!
    Wish me luck!!!

  26. Tania – I made one quarter of the recipe and baked it in one 4-inch (not springform) pan. So depending on how mini your pans are, you might want to make 2 instead of 4 for half of the recipe.

    My cake fell too. I was really careful with the eggs. The batter was just starting to look bubbly, like Cathy and Joy described. I stopped there, but the flour wasn’t completely mixed in, and there were some hardened bits of flour in the baked cake.

    I ended up hollowing out a nest in the middle anyway. It actually worked out fine, since the edges were fairly tall still. I just didn’t have a “lid” to cover the filling with.

  27. ok – the cakes came out pretty great! I was uber careful and folded in the flour mixture really carefully, and the butter too. It didn’t deflate! Then I gently spooned it into four 4 inch springforms and waited. They look pretty great. They aren’t super high but they did double in height. I think they will work pretty well. I am going to wrap them and let them hang out til dinner tomorrow night. Cant wait to try them and see what they taste like. They smell fantastic.
    Thanks for all the tips!

  28. Tania — half the recipe should fit into two 4-inch pans — one-quarter the recipe would fit in one 4-inch round pan. That might explain why yours aren’t super high. Glad yours worked out!

    I encourage everyone to go ahead and try the recipe — maybe do a half-recipe if you don’t want to waste too many ingredients — and just experiment and see how it comes out! I promise it will be a good learning experience ;) !

  29. Not making a genoise in a while, the first one didn’t rise. Success the 2nd time was due to carefully warming/beating the eggs to 110 degrees thus enabling the eggs to go to the critical whipped ribbon stage, and finish with a gentle fold for the sifted flour & butter.

  30. I made 2 mini cakes in 4inch pans- exactly enough batter for each. They sunk a bit in the middle but I was still able to cut the tops off and I used a small spoon to scoop out the insides for the nests. The filling was a little bland (I added extra sugar) but the taste of the great fresh raspberries from the farmers market will compensate for that.

  31. Beryl – oh I wish it was time for fresh raspberries from a farmer’s market here. I look forward to finding the one in Savannah (just moved here) and seeing what they have!

  32. Lauren, thanks for the tip about the exact temperature. I’ll note that in my book but I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to make this again. I found the genoise technique interesting, at least until the thing sank!

  33. I made this twice yesterday. The first one was an unmitigated disaster even though my batter looked good going into the pan. I had huge craters. The second time I had great success even though my batter appeared to be deflated and bubbly when it went in the pan! The two changes I made where monitoring the temperature of the eggs (I pulled them off the simmering water at 110 degrees which for me was about 2 minutes) and I used superfine bakers sugar. Instead of a cake, I made “cucakes” in my king sized muffin pan so they are super tall, I used frozen mango instead of berries, added a touch of cinnamon to the cream cheese mixture, and sprinkled the tops with cinnamon. I was also totally hooked on the idea of “street food” so I fashioned my own tulip muffin wrappers out of parchment paper and lined the muffin tins with those. They turned out way cool!

  34. kimberly, those sound great. I was thinking of using mango in mine as well, but the hubby wants berries, so I am going to make it with berries…hmph!

  35. I made this last summer with strawberries and loved it. I didn’t add any additional sweetener to the filling and the cake tasted like luscious light strawberry shortcake. I think I am going to use kumquats as the fruit this time and reduce some of my left over pear poaching liquid for the syrup. We shall see how it goes; hopefully I will find kumquats at the store today.

  36. I went to the store today and could not stomach the price of the out of season berries. I am going to go with a meyer lemon curd since they look beautiful and are in season right now. I’m debating about making the cake, considering all the problems, or just making the filling and curd and going trifle style. . . argh!

  37. Well, I trimmed the tops off my two incredibly thin cake layers (made from fallen batter) and tasted the trimmings. Kind of dense, like a pound cake — dry, but then genoise is supposed to be like that before you put the syrup on — but still tasty. So I syruped the heck out of them, lined the sides of my springform pan with waxed paper, and layered in genoise / filling / fruit compote / filling / genoise. It’s chilling now. We’ll see…I think it may work out! The trimmings were turned into cake crumbs and may end up decorating the sides…

  38. I’m surprised so many people thought the filling was bland. I thought it was fantastic! I could stick my spoon in it and eat it straight, it was that good. I used Neufchatel in place of the cream cheese and Splenda instead of regular sugar…could that have been the reason why?

  39. I so appreciate your comments as I take on this cake. I made only the cake part last night and thought it was fine, but now I wonder if it is high enough. My center didn’t fall, but I also noticed teeny flakes of flour in the batter, so I may have ticked off the eggs or I may have just not folded enough. I’ll post the finished product on my blog. Fingers crossed!

  40. I was so careful with the egg mixture…… but i obviously wasn’t careful enough. I now have a flat cake that doesn’t look light and airy at all ;)
    At least i know I’m not alone in my frustrations. I’ll just have to try again in the morning.

  41. Any suggestions for the raspberry syrup? I can find flavored syrup for pancakes and even syrup for coffee flavoring. Will either work? Thanks.

  42. I’m pleased to report that my finished cake was delicious even with my dense, fallen cake. I had a thin layer of cake on bottom and top, nothing on sides which made it a little “squooshy” to cut but it tasted great!

  43. I tried cupcakes with this batter – it looked like such a beautiful, rich, creamy batter and it formed a satin like ribbon as it was supposed to. But what a baking disaster! Maybe genoise does not adapt well to cupcake pans, I don’t know. About 12 minutes after I put them in the oven I checked them out, expecting to see nicely risen cakes – I actually witnessed the last “standing” cupcake collapsing. How disappointing! I promised cupcakes for work tomorrow so I’ll just try another recipe, but this one is a no-go for me.

  44. I just took my cake out of the oven. I baked it in a Betty Crocker Bake ‘N Fill pan (that I’ve had for a few years and rarely use) and am so nervous about how it’s going to turn out!! With these pans you let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes without removing the inner pan so you can’t see the cake — I’m so tempted to peak but I don’t want to ruin it! Wish me luck :)

  45. Okay, I know I’m just talking with myself at this point, but my cake made it! I just took the outer pan off and it looks great! I’m super excited :) I was so nervous about this one… Off to go make the filling!

  46. my cakes are baking–i made two 6 inch rounds in regular cake pans–so i can’t attest to the sinking and flatness, but my diva eggs took a lot longer (15 minutes) than the recipe stated to increase in volume and form a satiny ribbon. so, don’t lose hope if your eggs seem to be taking super long…if you can stay patient, they should do what they’re supposed to:) good luck!

  47. My cake is high on the sides and fallen in the middle.
    I am not going to worry about scooping the cake and just pile the filling in the fallen center. It should stil taste pretty good, I hope. :)

  48. I’m going to title my post “know when to trust your gut” because honestly I should have… and bypassed on this week. But no, I went ahead with it. I halved the recipe figuring I could use a 4″ springform pan. I dunno but I musta gotten a tremendous amount of volume from my batter because it was enough for a 4″ springform pan filled (remember this part) plus another 4 cupcakes. I popped them in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes (just a way-point check). After 5 minutes I looked thru the glass to see the batter in the springform pan had risen up and over the sides… and onto the silpat lined baking sheet. crappity-crap-crap! Yeah, I shoulda trusted my gut and bypassed this week :(

  49. I tried cupcakes for this figuring they would be more portable than the full size cake to bring to work. They are still in the oven right now, but they have all completely collapsed in the middle – so I really do have “Cup” cakes.

    Maybe I’ll try filling them and topping with the whipped cream mixture, but I guess we’ll see when I take them out of the oven.

    I just don’t feel up to trying the recipe again at this point, so this may just have to be a failure.

  50. Don’t fret about a sunken center. My center deflated about an inch below the edges and it still worked just fine. I cut the top off level with the sunken center so I had a nice cake ring and carefully set it aside. Then I cut about an inch in from edge all the way around and instead of just digging the cake out, from the cut I just made, I slid my knife in to the center of the cake at about a 45 degree angle and cut out the center in a solid piece (be careful the tip of your knife doesn’t carve a nice hole in the bottom of your cake). This center disk matches up perfectly with my outer cake ring to make a nice solid top. Just trim the bottom of the center cake-disk flat and you have a perfect cake top from a sunken cake.

    Don’t worry too much about this cake. As Barbara reported even with a fallen dense cake, it is really tasty (I made it last summer too). The syrup and the light creamy filling will salvage a less-than-perfect cake!

    Mine is in the fridge chillin’ before the photo shoot. I am so curious to try the kumquat filling. I guess it is a good sign that I kept snitching the candied kumquats.

  51. Well, my 1st cake didn’t rise very much, by the time it was cooling off, it wasn’t even 2″ tall. SO, knowing that would not even be enough for trifle, I baked another cake, this time whipping the eggs longer (about 8 mins) and maybe that worked because that 2nd cake rose much taller and sank just a little. I layered the two cakes together and proceeded with the recipe directions. BTW, my 1st cake, the middle was SO dense, it reminded me of my Kugelhopf. I thought this was great (reminded me of another Kraft dessert I’ve made-w/the cream and berries), but maybe it’d be better with a vanilla plain cake instead. These were kind of a lot of work.

  52. OK, so I don’t love this cake. And then there is the idea of unincorporated flour how I hate you…let me count the ways! All in all a disappointment, and I wanted to just chuck it after we tasted it. Better luck with next recipe!

  53. We loved this cake (cupcakes actually), but I have to admit that (though I didn’t photograph the failures) we only had two survivors. I was a little too careful about not insulting the diva egg’s and didn’t give them all enough folding. I got the butter ok, but got toward the bottom of the bowl and found quite a bit of the flour mixture wasn’t stirred in. We will definitely make this again though. I didn’t adjust a thing and thought it all tasted great when the components were all together.

  54. I ended up with four cupcakes and a quasi-passable 4″ cake. I’ve photographed one of the cupcakes then split it with DH. Holy cow was it good! Glad I persevered and went thru with this, even in miniature form :)

  55. I just got back from London and am deep in watching/listening to the livestreaming election coverage, so I am skipping this week. Looks like it was a good week for me to skip as well. I’m not certain I could take the two failures in a row, what with my miserable muffins last week and the difficulties everyone is having this week.
    Happy Inauguration Day, everyone. Yes We Can. Europe celebrates with us.

  56. I really wanted to try this week’s challenge, but wanted to use dried fruit. I woke up this morning to the first snowfall of the year (in my part of the country) and decided it was going to be stewed fruit with the berry surprise cake filling on top, inspired by the “playing around” paragraph. The whole house smells wonderful. Can’t wait to try it!

  57. Hi
    How are my Tuesday pals? I missed you all – well, it is Tuesday again ;)
    I guess we all share the same sentiments, that our cakes sank. I am forced to believe that it was intended to be that way. I got a perfect 360 degree sink hole about 1″ from the edge all the way around. If you want you all can check out my blog http://kitchenadventures-spice.blogspot.com with pics and see what I came out with.


  58. I am really inspired by all of the options that you experimented with. I have looked at a number of photos and really love what you did. I skipped this week due to the high cost of berries and not connecting winter and fresh raspberries. I have to admit I made a Breton Apple Pie instead. I’ll be back to the book next week.

  59. Pingback: Tuesdays with Dorie: Surprise Poached Fruit with Cream « my famous recipe

  60. Pingback: Berry Surprise Cake « mango missives

  61. Pingback: Chocoholic Anonymous » Blog Archive » TWD: Berry Surprise Cake

  62. I used two tablespoons of meringue powder and added it into the flour. This has helped me in the past with my cakes, making sure they rise and stay level. I also made sure I started out with room temp eggs and constantly stirred the eggs while they simmered (thanks, dragana for staying on me for this). I also made sure the eggs stayed warm to touch and did not over heat. I gently folded in the eggs and took my time. I left some flour pockets, which turned out okay when the cake was done.
    I contribute all of that to my cake not sinking.

  63. This advice comes late: beat the eggs beyond 5 minutes (more like 8) to get thick, billowing ropes of batter that coils on itself when the batter is lifted (the term “ribbon” is not enough). I love genoise cakes and this is my foolproof way of making it.

    ~ Julius
    from Occasional Baker

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