This strawberry-studded version of Windbeuteltorte, a classic German cake, comes to us courtesy of pastry chef and author Gesine Bullock-Prado. While it may look complicated, it’s actually quite simple to put together once you have all the parts assembled. And the result? An elegant dessert that’s both striking and delicious with hidden choux puffs inside.
To bake the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8” round springform pan.
Prepare the cake batter as instructed and pour it into the springform pan. Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack. After 10 minutes, loosen the sides of the pan, and leave the cake right in the springform to cool.
Once the cake is cool, remove the ring. Trim the top of the cake to level it; it should be 3/4” tall. Replace the ring, cover the cake, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the fillings.
To make the chocolate filling: Prepare the ganache as directed, using 1 2/3 cups (283g) chopped chocolate. Place 1 cup of the warm ganache into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in 2 cups warm pastry cream.
Heat and dissolve the softened gelatin gently by microwaving at 10-second intervals at 40% power, swirling in between, until liquid. Add the liquid gelatin to the ganache and pastry cream mixture, stirring to thoroughly combine. Cover the filling with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
To make the strawberry filling: Place the strawberry jam in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in 1 cup of the warm pastry cream. Cover the filling with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
To prepare and position the strawberries: Trim the tops of 12 of the strawberries to remove their leaves, and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the cake from the freezer. Line the sides of the pan with the strawberries, alternating points up and down (see photo above), and cut side facing out (flat against the ring).
To prepare the mini choux puffs: Make a small hole in the bottom of 8 to 10 puffs; you’ll need enough puffs to form a circle around the inside of the cake pan. The hole in each puff should be large enough to fit a Bismarck piping tip.
Transfer the strawberry filling to a pastry bag fitted with a Bismarck (or similar) tip. Fill each puff until it feels completely full and heavy. Place the puffs in a circle on the chocolate cake.
To assemble the cake: Gently whisk the cooled chocolate pastry cream to loosen. Fold in the whipped cream.
Spoon or pipe the chocolate filling around and on top of the chocolate cake and filled puffs, making sure to coat the tops of the puffs completely. Be careful the filling doesn’t ooze between the cut strawberries and the wall of the pan.
Level the surface of the chocolate filling using a large offset spatula; it should be flush with the top of the springform. Freeze the cake, covered, until completely set, at least 2 hours; overnight is fine.
To complete the cake: Gently reheat 1 cup of the chilled ganache over a hot water bath. Spoon it over the cake, using a large offset spatula to cover the cake in an even layer of ganache.
Scoop the remaining 1/2 cup ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a small open writing tip. Pipe circles atop the cake around its perimeter.
Trim the tops of the remaining 2 strawberries and cut them horizontally to create circles. Array them decoratively atop the cake.
Gently heat the sides of the springform pan with a blow dryer or a warm, damp towel and carefully release the springform. Refrigerate the cake for a few hours before serving (or as long as necessary), to allow it to thaw. To serve, cut the cake with a sharp knife dipped in hot water between each cut.
Store any leftovers, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for a couple of days.