I should have posted this before, but the Valentine saga got in the way….Still, I wanted to share it with you, so…..
Murphy’s law always applies…so my Lenôtre course and my smallest daughter’s birthday had to be on the same week, of course ! But, knowing this, I had started to make my daughter’s M made-to-order cake before..No problem ! Everything under control, the cake was almost finished (in the freezer). I would make the final decoration on Saturday, but it so happened that the chef announced Thursday that we would be able to take some cakes home…”Well”, I thought, “we will keep my cake in the freezer and the girls will indulge in one of Lenôtre’s cakes. What’s more, these cakes had to be eaten during the weekend, no possibility of freezing them again…
What do you think my daughter said???!!!! She said she didn’t like those cakes (sacrilege !!!!!) because they were not “girly” enough (well, maybe she had a point there!)
So after trying to make her reason it out, she grudgingly accepted to give one of these cakes “a new make-up”. We dismantled the original chocolate “carrés” decoration (sacrilege N°2) and we decided to stick some raspberry macarons instead !!!!, to match the tablecloth… (recipes below).
You might think I spent a fortune on this “Petites Dames” decoration, but far from it; Sometimes it is a question of imagination….
For example, the “tablecloth” is in fact an old cotton shower curtain from my house in Buenos Aires…I made the pink table center using some fabric that was left from some chairs I had upholstered… The macaron “holder” is a gift from my friend A. from Pau, France.
The flower pots are in fact yoghurt pots, with paper coasters under them…
The butter dish and water jug were bought in Buenos Aires….
My personal experience is that girls do not appreciate complicated “entremets”, so I will reproduce this cake in a simple way just baking a “génoise” (sponge cake), filling it with a Nutella mousse, but I will stick to the white chocolate ganache, and the raspberry macarons….My two daughters agreed this would make a “gâteau anniversaire incroyable” (incredible birthday cake), so….the recipes!
For the “génoise”: One day, at the beginning of my internship at the Caesar Park Hotel, Buenos Aires, the pastry chef told me: “Today, you will make the five “génoise” that we need for the wedding cake for Saturday…”. ”Me????”, I thought….alreading imagining the poor bride crying at seeing her cake was a fiasco…and with his typical stern look, he told me: ”Remember this: number of eggs, per 30 gr of flour, per 30 gr of sugar….you whisk the eggs and the sugar in low heat, till sugar dissolves…be careful not to cook the eggs!!!!!, then electric mixer until you triple volume, then add sifted flour…and please do not ask me for how many minutes you are going to bake…!! He hated this sort of “stupid” question, he used to tell me that I had to see and touch, not rely on minutes because each oven is different, because in a professional kitchen you open the oven many times (because other people are baking other things in the same oven, so….) So according to my common sense, (and what I had learnt at school, I started heating the egg/sugar mixture in “bain Marie”….there I hear him crying…”Cristina, do you think this is a TV programme for housewives? You are in a professional kitchen, stop wasting your time with the “bain Marie” and do it directly on the fire, with a metal bowl, that you will place on and off (the burner) until desired temperature…You can’t imagine my stress….I must admit that my first two months at the hotel were one of the most stressful times of my life….the chef was always criticising me, giving me ironic comments, I must admit many times my eyes were filled with tears….that I thought of giving up….but you know what? His discipline paid off, his “merciless” criticism always comes to my mind….and finally I have to thank him because he taught me a lot, the rough way…., but he taught me a lot, and then, when I realized I was improving, I relaxed, and now we are best friends…….
Génoise RecipeSo, for a small cake like this one ( mold 22cm), you will need: * eggs, 4 * sugar, 120 gr * all purpose flour, 120 gr * vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon.I would advise you to whisk the eggs/sugar/extract in a “bain Marie” (sorry Chef!) because you minimise the risk of cooking your eggs….besides, you are not under the pressure of making 25 cakes like in a professional kitchen, so you can afford some extra minutes for the sake of culinary success. When the sugar has dissolved, and the temperature reached 35/40°C, pour the mixture in the bowl of the stand mixer, and whisk until it has tripled its volume, and has cooled ….remember this is the moment when you incorporate air to the genoise, so the more you whisk the better…don’t be afraid, you can’t overdo it! Now, the tricky part comes when you have to fold in the sifted flour…why? because you risk deflating your mixture if you take too much time to do it…so gradually with big whisking motions (from the inside to the outside, and with as few strokes as possible) incorporate the flour and then…inmediately pour the batter into the mold that you have previously coated with baking spray….and to the oven (pre-heated 180°C) in no time !!! Don’t you dare even think of tapping the mold to even the surface !!!!! The genoise will collapse…Even the surface gently using a spatula. If you follow these instructions the genoise will grow three-fold in appreciation!!! Bake until golden brown, how do I know if it is ready? either, when a wooden stick comes out dry, or when you press it (with your hand) lightly in the center, and the cake springs back !! Let it cool on a wire rack. I would advise you to make it the day before…The cake acquires more “body” and so it is easier to cut the different layers. The genoise being a very light and dry cake, it is normally soaked in liquor or syrup. Considering this is a cake for children, I would soak it in syrup.
To make “sirop d’imbibage“, you need 100gr sugar and 100gr water, you put that in a saucepan and you take it to a boil…ready !!! Let it cool. For cakes for adults, once the syrup is ready, you can add some liquor, rhum, Grand Marnier….This syrup should be used not only because it makes the cake less dry, but also because it will prevent the mousse or cream that you will use as filling to drain into the sponge!
For the Nutella Mousse, you will need: * nutella, 90 gr * heavy cream, 200gr * hazelnuts, a handful, coarsely choppedWhisk to the cream to soft-medium peaks. Take 1/3 of the cream and fold it to the Nutella to loosen it up. Once this texture is more souple, fold in the rest of the cream and hazelnuts, few stokes, from the inside to the outside, to keep its body. Refrigerate.
For the white chocolate ganache: * heavy cream, 150 gr * white chocolate, 200 gr * butter, 30 grTake the cream to a boil. Pour it on the chocolate, previously chopped into small pieces. Combine well. Add the butter. Mix well, with your hand processor, as I have explained here. (No air, please !!!!!!). Keep it at room temperature.
For the macarons, follow my recipe: Macarons basic recipe, only adding some red food colouring. Powder food colouring is much better than liquid one, in general. Remember to put a little extra than the colour you would finally like, because colours fade with baking.
For the raspberry jam (framboise pépin)
* raspberry purée, 500 gr
* sugar, 500 gr
In a saucepan, cook the raspberries together with the sugar, till it gets the consistence of a jam (103°C). Check like this: Pour one drop on a plate. If it stays set, it is done. Refrigerate.
(we are not using the framboise pépin for the cake decoration, but I give the recipe all the same, may be you can give out raspberry macarons as party favors)
Cut the genoise in three layers. Moisten the first layer with the syrup. Spread half the Nutella mousse. Place the second layer, pressing it gently. Moisten it with the syrup. Spread the other half of the mousse. Turn the last layer upside down. Moisten it with the syrup. Place it on the cake in the original sense. Press gently. Even the sides of the cake to remove excess mousse. Refrigerate 2/3 hours. Take 1/3 of the ganache. Warm it till it becomes a creamy paste. Use that paste to cover imperfections in the sides of the cake, and on the top too. Refrigerate. Place your cake on a metal rack. Put a bowl under the cake rack. Heat the ganache to 30°C. Stir it well. Pour all the ganache right in the center, in a continous flow…the ganache will drop evenly, but you can help tilting the cake rack slightly so that the ganache covers all sectors of the cake. You can use the ganache that is left on the bowl, to patch up eventual “holes”, pouring it in the area needed, but this has to be done fast !!!! otherwise traces will be left and the result will be less perfect !!! Stick the macarons to the sides. Refrigerate.
I hope the girls in your families enjoy this cake! ( Mind you!…these techniques can be used for any sort of cake)
PS: you will notice that most recipes in USA, add baking powder in the genoise recipe. Not necessary at all !!!! Neither this question of whisking yokes and sugar, and then adding whisked whites…If you whisk whole eggs well, and you master the technique of gradual incorporation of solids into eggs, mousses,etc…the génoise has to come out well !! What’s more, it is the base of pastry….the same as the balance between solids and airy components…so no way out…if you want to do pastry, you have to learn that !!!