Baking with Julia – French Strawberry Cake aka Bitch Cake

So as you can probably tell from the title of this post (and let’s get serious, the picture) this cake was not my favorite. Not only was it a bitch to make, but it sorta made me one too. In Julie & Julia, Julie dubs Julia’s recipe for tedious rice “bitch rice” and I am going to sort of steal the moniker for this cake. I have never made a genoise before, but I have seen one made and I know sure as the sun will rise that it’s not supposed to look, taste, or feel the way mine turned out. Failure in the kitchen doesn’t happen to me all that often, so when it does it kinda upsets me. But lets start at the beginning, shall we?

I had wanted to go to the local berry farm and pick some strawberries for this but it never ended up happening and all the berries were on sale at the grocery store so I went with raspberries, blackberries and monster most likely genetically enhanced strawberries. Maybe nature was punishing me for my poor choices…

But they sure do look pretty all mixed up with some sugar in the bowl now don’t they? I left them to juice while my mom and I went to get facials. She was visiting for the weekend and we indulged. It was awesome. When we got home, I prepped the pan, pre-heated the oven and got ready to get my genoise on. Forming the ribbon actually went really well – Candy was a champ as per usual.

The stage after this is where our heroine (me) ran into problems. I have previously expressed my feelings on folding in ingredients. I hate it. It takes forever. And just when you’re sure you’re done, another goddamn dry spot reveals itself. It seems endless. I used my biggest spatula and try, try, tried to be gentle and thorough but based on the result I was neither. I was feeling a little apprehensive when I poured it into the pan and it looked like this:

I had a feeling all those bubbles did not bode well. I put it in the oven and crossed my fingers but this is what came out:

So it didn’t rise one little bit. Not a damn bit! After I let it cool for awhile I sliced it into the thinnest layers ever and just made the best of it. But you can bet there was some serious swearing and pouting going on. I’ll be the first to admit I was a real baby. It’s just that I hate putting time and effort (and ingredients) into something that sucks. Plus my mom was visiting and I had invited another friend over for dinner since I figured Tristan, my mom and I wouldn’t be able to finish the whole cake and it didn’t seem like it was one that would keep. I read the P & Q and made extra whipped cream even! Grrrrr. I decided to make lemon cream so I added the zest of 1 lemon and a 1/2 tsp of lemon extract instead of the vanilla to give it a little citrus twist.

Tristan, my mom, and Dave were all lovely and said it was good but they were lying their faces off. The berries and whipped cream part were tasty but the cake? Good god, the cake. It was super dense, dry, and weird. Plus when I sliced the layers I saw a ton of dry spots that completely corroborate my theory that I am the world’s worst folder. I forced myself to eat it because I don’t like waste but I was completely defeated by this genoise. I will have to work really hard to make a better one the next time we need one for BWJ. In conclusion, I am so glad I was the host for naan and not this because that would have really been embarrassing! 🙂

Tom Hanks is eagerly awaiting the next recipe but if you want to give this one a go, visit Sophia of Sophia’s Sweets or Allison of Think, Love, Sleep, Dine for the recipe.

40 thoughts on “Baking with Julia – French Strawberry Cake aka Bitch Cake

  1. I bet it still tasted good though! I use a balloon whisk to fold in the flour into the egg mixture and it does a great job preserving the volume of the whipped eggs more than a spatula.

  2. My cake looks similar to yours and I don’t just mean that I didn’t pipe on the frosting. My cake was flat and dry and now I’m thinking my folding technique must have been lacking. I did like the strawberries and the cream frosting though.

  3. I don’t think that your cakes\ looks horrible! You made me laugh when you called it Bitch Cake! I have had times like that in the kitchen too! I have learned to always have a glass (or 2) of wine while cooking, it makes the problems go down much easier! Good luck on the next recipe!

  4. I can SO relate to this post…yes, a ‘b***h’ of a cake…just a note, genoise is a dry cake. It is meant to have syrups etc poured on it. I’m like you, have had many successes in the kitchen. So, when it doesn’t go well, I pout, like a kid! LOL. Well, at least you treated yourself to a facial…a saving grace to the day, right? Must say, your first photo looks yummy. Like the reference to Tom Hanks…very cute…

    ~ Carmen

  5. Too bad it didn’t work out right for either of us. I am determined not to get too disgruntled over it. My kids will eat anything with fruit and whipped cream on it. I would have been upset if I was serving it to company too. I won’t take this on for a dinner party anytime soon!

  6. Please tell me you named your mixer Candy. Did I read that right? I’m totally inspired. I’m going home right now to assign names to my kitchen appliances (or at least the important ones). They work so hard, they deserve it right?

    I’m open to suggestions, but my gut tells me Blanche (as in DuBois) was my oven’s name in a previous life. She’s such a vixen. But now that I think about it, I suppose that’s a better name for the range, where blanching might actually occur.

    Do you have other appliance “friends” or am I totally mis-reading this?

    • No you’re totally right. My mixer is named Candy and honestly she’s the only appliance I have that’s earned a moniker. I like Blanche & Vixen – it sounds like your kitchen would be full of fun & sassy Southern ladies!

  7. Maggie, despite the fact that your génoise did not really turn out the way you would have liked, the cake looks pretty and using a mix of berries is a great idea and I always like reading your very funny posts, just wonderful.

    Have a wonderful,week!

  8. Hi, your cake look wonderful. If you hadn’t shown us all the pics, we would never have guessed all the “troubles” you encountered on your way…

  9. I was thinking of even starting a thread – what spatula do you use and how do you fold the batter…I am so sympathetic with your experience because I also went through a quick baking withdrawal after my first attempt at the génoise. Love the combination of fruits in your Bitch Cake!

  10. I will second that…definitely Bitch cake! I went into the kitchen thinking this was a cinch and hours and three cakes later I came out! I’m pretty much an experienced baker and have baked génoise before with no problem! I had a terrible time with this recipe!
    One thing I found was the eggs really needed to be beat for at least 9 or 10 minutes.
    All and all your cake looks lovely and your cream looks and sounds delicious!!

  11. I had similar problems with the folding. I’m confident I can improve on my cake and I intend to try, try again.
    I would eat your cake though, it looks good, but maybe not exactly what you were trying for!

  12. Love your post! I had problems with this one, too. Ended up tossing the first one in the trash and making a second one. My poor husband ended up eating his Father’s Day cake at 10 pm. From now on I’m referring to this as B*tch Cake. 😉

  13. Hey Maggie, the title of your post made me smile! That’s my girl just being honest! I love it! You only pouted for a little while and really it wasn’t bad. I’ll let you cook meals
    and bake treats for your Mommy anytime! Love, Mom. XOXOXOXOXO

  14. Oh, Maggie, I didn’t know enough to swear at this cake because I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to look like although I knew that it didn’t rise. You are the first person to mention those darn bubbles! I had never seen anything like that it all my cake baking years. Anyway, I also made the most of it, but now I will forever be thinking of this as the Bitch Cake. 🙂 I love the folds of whipped cream on your cake!

  15. Your post made me crack up! I actually thought you cake looked beautiful…I liked how you did the whipped cream on top! I did one more rustic as well. I sifted the flour mixture into the batter…maybe that helped?…for next time 🙂

  16. Maggie – The cake looks good and I bet it tasted great!
    I can not give any pointers because – as you know – no bakeee.
    I will be out of touch for a few days – fishing up on lake Vermilion. I will call you when I get back.
    Pickled herring, beef sticks, cheese curds, smoked chickens, turkey jerky, beer, bloody Mary’s, whiskey and wine – I don’t know what the other guys are bringing!
    Love Dad

  17. I totally feel your pain. I have been there with genoise before and I would just encourage you not to let it defeat you. You are better than that! (says me who still has not figured out how to fold the flour in without having floury pebbles in the finished cake) But, seriously, I refuse to believe that a cake can be this hard. There Must Be a trick to it somewhere and I am going to find it!

  18. oh yeah! my first cake did the bubbly thing too after I folded in the buttery stuff. I even heard the hissing of the air leaking out of the batter then, and during baking. I got a door mat! did better the second time around, but had a mini-doormat that I could remove when putting the cake together. I agree, a B***** of a recipe for me too! 3rd times a charm???

  19. After reading all these Posts, Maggie, you’re going to have to admit it. You and Candy were in cahoots to create a “fail” (your words, not mine) in order to garner all this attention! I am totally surprised that so many bakers were not successful with this recipe. (I did not bake in June – tough month at my house) Don’t you think that says more about the recipe than the bakers? I just don’t think a recipe in a published cookbook sold to the public should be too pron to failure. I am not a excellent cook nor baker but I have made a successful genoise. Sorry. Just ranting. Loved your Post, really I did.

  20. I’m so glad to hear I wasn’t the only one! My cake looked just like yours when it came out of the oven. I liked the flavor (I’m pretty easy to please) but was very mad at myself for the failure to rise.

  21. I think that the correct pronounciation is “Biotch” and that maam is a total utter and unmitigated Biotch of a cake! Why do we subject ourselves to these culinary swines of recipes? Why do we sweat our bollocks off trying to make the perfect souffle, the lightest fluffiest sponges and the most pert and crisp profiteroles? Because it is a way to elevate ourselves above the crowd! Forget foodie elitism, bollocks to that sponge…I would have taken one look at it and turned it into a sodden tiramisu and would have said to my curious assembled entourage when they questioned the dry bits “Oh MAN do I have to spell the latest trends out to you people!?!…that’s “Sec et méchant” you fools! Escoffier himself aspired to what I just put in front of you heathen dolts!”…(baffle them with bullshit girl and you will ALWAYS come away the winner 😉 )…by the way I used Google Translate for that little French titilation that actually means “dry and nasty” in English 🙂 no lies…no pack drill!

  22. Just read your post after seeing the link from your Popover Post. Just had to know what a bitch cake was. Only the bottom third or s of my cake ended up dense… half-bitch if you will.

  23. Hello “World’s Worst Folder”, I just wanted to let you know that your blog post made me laugh real hard! I stumbled upon it on my quest for the recipe for a Bitch Cake – surely something like that must exist on the Internetz!?!
    Keep up the good work and may the folding power be with you 🙂

  24. Pingback: Baking with Julia – Boca Negra « Always Add More Butter

  25. Pingback: Baking with Julia – Cinnamon-Orange Madeleines with Grand Marnier Glaze | Always Add More Butter

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