Pinoy crema de fruta-A A +A
By Artie Sy
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
ONE of the many desserts and dulces during many lunches and dinners which was on many tables is the CREMA DE FRUTA. Would you believe that this is a local and uniquely Pinoy dessert? Its ancestors include the English Trifle, the Italian Tiramisu, the American Icebox Cake and the Australian Zebra Cake. Those dear readers, IS the provenance of our very own Crema de Fruta.
The Italian Tiramisu (meaning 'pick me up:' or ' make me happy') is made of mainly Ladyfingers, a mix of egg whites, marsala and eggs, cheese and whipped cream. The final dessert cake is dusted with cocoa, sometimes piped with cream, refrigerated, then served with a good brew of coffee.
Now, you certainly will be happy to be served such a dessert or a 'pick me up' slice of tiramisu in the afternoon for merienda. It surely will pick you up. The recipe for tiramisu calls for whites and yolks of eggs to be uncooked. Except for the marsala which is used, which will supposedly alcoholize and cook the eggs. This poses the slight danger of salmonella, so if you hesitate, move on to another similar cake.
The English dessert Trifle is another parent of the crema de fruta. The English have an old traditional dessert consisting of layers of whipped cream or custard, cake, (lightly moistened with sherry or any alcohol of choice) and fruit. As one can see from the above ingredients, the choice is wide and varied. You may use any cake, or cookies you so desire or wish to use. You may use custard and/or whipped cream, fruits of you choice and alcohol of your choice. From such a simple beginning comes one of England’s more spectacular desserts.
Another parent of our crema de fruta is the American icebox cake, but the American cake is really the simplest of them all. The Americans line a buttered loaf pan with a sponge cake or lady lingers, sides and bottom, gently put in some canned fruit (or fresh) and mold the entire ensemble with a custard to set and make the cake sliceable.
From the American icebox cake derived a version called the Australian zebra cake, consisting of chocolate cookies (uncrumbled) layer with whipped cream for several layers, to fill up to the top of the loaf pan. The cake though is unmolded to be served on a decorated dish forming if you will notice zebra slices. Therefore, one must be sure to lavishly butter the entire loaf pan so that it will unmold into a serving dish easily. Again, the cake is refrigerated for a time in the fridge or the freezer of the fridge before placing the loaf pan in a pan of very hot water to melt the butter and make the cake slip easily from the pan into a serving dish, to be decorated on the dish.
Finally, we come to our very on Crema de Fruta. The pinoy dessert is always proudly served at special occasions with a flourish and to the gasps of oohhs and aahhs.
We can go the tough way and do it from the scratch, bake your own sponge cake, make your own custard (zabaliogne) use fresh fruits, which you will lightly boil in a mild syrup, and thence make your crema de fruta. I was gifted by a very dear friend (Mrs. Marilyn Santiago) with wonderful crema de fruta, and she made hers from the scratch. She baked her own sponge, beat her own custard and covered the entire cake with a layer of gelatine to hold the fruits in place. But we lesser mortals can avoid doing this, by buying a sponge or a chiffon cake from a reputable bakery, buy a few boxes of flan in a box, and use fruit cocktail. Our crema de fruta does not have alcohol, so the children can usually splurge on the dessert.
On to the assembling
YOU WILL NEED:
1. 2 or 3 medium sized chiffon cakes from the bakery
2. 5 boxes of flan mix
3. A large can of fruit cocktail or several cans of peaches and 2 bottles of cherries, very well drained, (preferably overnight)
4. A box of gelatine.
5. A rectangle pan 4 inches high, 9 by 13
You might think it is cheaper to make your own, trust me, it will come out to the same cost, because you won’t be tired, and won’t have to have an oven to make this.
And that’s it. Then you have to decide if you want to serve the cake on a serving dish or you want to slice from the molding dish. If you want to serve from the molding dish, you will have no problem, as you will slice from the dish itself, but if you want to remove the whole cake from the assembling dish, then you will have to be careful.
You have to butter lavishly the molding dish, spread your gelatin on the BOTTOM of the molding dish, ARRANGE THE FRUITS ON THE BOTTOM and be sure that you have a serving dish large enough for the regular 9 by 13 pan of the CREMA DE FRUTA. Normally Pinays serve their Crema de Fruta on the dish wherein they made it. Makes sense, bring it out from the fridge and immediately serve it. But serving it on a pretty dish piped with whipped cream and decorated with more fruit makes for a more 'BONGGA' dish. So decide on what you want to do.
Let’s go normal, and you can try the more audacious version when you are not in a hurry. Slice the cakes into 1 inch thick slices horizontally and cover the bottom and sides of your pan. 13 by 9. If you are using a tubed chiffon cake, cover the holes with pieces of cake. When all sides are covered, moisten very, very lightly with a brush the cake with either a mild sherry or the syrup drained from the fruits.
Let the pan rest, so that the pieces settle in. Now make all the flan according to directions on the box. Moisten very lightly so as not to crumble the cake.
Gently pour a layer of custard, (flan) while the flan is still warn and not yet set, on the cake. Carefully layer your fruit on the custard, making sure that the fruits are well drained. Pour another layer of flan on the fruits, and continue until the top of the pan, leaving half an inch of space for the gelatin. Ending with the custard.
Let the Crema set while you make the gelatin. Decorate the top of the Crema with colorful cherries, or with colored kaong or both, alternately with buko strips, and then carefully pour some gelatin on the top making sure the pattern is maintained.
Remember, if you want to unmold the crema, you must do this layer first and be very sure that the pan is lavishly butter.
So there you have it, the Pinays version of the English trifle, the tiramisu and the icebox cake. Aren’t the Pinays wonderful? Don’t wait for Christmas. Make a small version for your Family. They are the most important people in your life.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 09, 2013.