February 17, 2006

crema de fruta

A layered cake with cream filling and fruit topping. Crema de fruta has always been in our favorite cakes list. We’ve been baking this cake for many years now. It’s a rich dessert but the cake is light, airy and very easy to make. My sister-in-law even bakes this commercially now and despite more affordable versions of this cake are widely sold by better-known bakeshops in Manila, she still gets orders for this popular cake. One of her secrets is maintaining its homemade quality and freshness all the time, which also means, never cutting down on the ingredients nor altering the recipe. Since she doesn’t use preservatives, the cake is usually made fresh by order.With the ongoing inflation in Manila these days, costing has been one of the many challenges her small cake business has seen. Some of her patrons would sometimes resort to buying this from these well-known bakeshop chains but their discriminating palates could instantly tell the difference. It's true that most people would rather spend their money on good quality, especially when it comes to food, rather than be sorry and regret it later on.
The basic sponge cake base is lemon-flavored which goes well with the fruit toppings. Any combination of fruits, fresh or canned, will do. I think the more colorful, the more attractive the outcome will be. I like using sliced fresh strawberries, kiwi, blueberries and some red grapes. For my version here, I used canned mandarin slices, which was what I happen to have in our pantry, with some fresh raspberries for a bright accent. Traditionally though, we use canned fruits like peaches or regular fruit cocktail, it may even be the tropical kind. The sponge cake is very light and not very sweet. The recipe doesn’t call for any oil at all although sometimes I would add just a tablespoon or two of regular vegetable or corn oil, to make it easier to slice. The cream filling is a combination of evaporated milk, fresh milk and/or half and half, eggs, lemon or rhum flavoring, some flour and butter. It is cooked until of spreading consistency. Assembling the cake starts with slicing the cake horizontally for the layers. Spread the cream filling on each layer finishing off with extra cream filling on top. Arrange the fruits and pour some quick set clear gelatine on top of the fruit to seal it and create a smooth, glassy surface.

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