This has been a real challenge, a double, triple challenge. The first time the pattern was perfect, elegant, a real designer masterpiece! But the filling was definitely too liquid, so the external biscuit mould got soggy in a few hours, loosing its perfect and regular shape. Beside this, I decides to use two different fillings in the same time, a brandy & vanilla Bavarian cream in the bottom and a coffee and cardamom Bavarian cream on the top. Giulia, aren’t there too many flavours in the same time? But my answer was nothing else but disdainful: Mum, com’on! I’m a foodblogger, I have to experiment, I took the oath over the sacred Nigella’s book! Silenced, she went away shaking her head.
I kept on adding elements and ingredients. A layer of whipped cream, spread on the top, to cover the soggy biscuit and the way too liquid Bavarian cream. Uhm, what else? Got it! I need something fanciful to capture the eye and conceal the flaws. I melted some sugar to make a hazelnut brittle, like an elegant stained glass. My idea was to decorate with refinement the top of the Entremet, diverting the attention from the melting bottom. As soon as I brought it to the table, my guests asked: what are them? broken glasses?? We need a spoon to serve the dessert? Mmh, sweet, but, which is the main flavour here? Total failure! My mistake? Exaggeration! So I decided to keep it simple with my second attempt and the result was definitely a huge success!
It’s like the perfect evening. You can stir up all the best ingredients, like up-to-date music, expensive wine, a fancy venue, extravagant dresses and VIP people, but you are likely to fail, when you lose control. So choose just a few simple ingredients, true friends, hearty food, a birthday to celebrate and an elegant yet simple dessert and you’ll have the perfect evening! To tell the truth, my second attempt was the birthday cake of my friend Antonella, we celebrated her special day in a cosy osteria in the Florence centre, just the few of us, and it was one of the best evenings ever! So – note to self – keep it simple, and you are likely to succeed!
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog Accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. I’ll leave Astheroshe the task to explain what a Joconde Imprime and a Entremets are:
A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts / tarts / entremets / formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect. This Joconde/spongecake requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. It over baked it will dry out and crack. Once cooled, the sponge may be cut into strips to line any shape ring mold. Entremets (French baking term) – an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold.
The other task was to find a filling for the Entremets. On my second attempt I decided to use a basic version of the Bavarian cream I had already posted, made interesting and fresh just with the adding of the lemon juice. The result of the experiment was a silky and dense cream with a distinctive citrus flavour, a perfect marriage to the nutty Biscuit Joconde.
- 85 g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter –> I used hazelnut flour!
- 75 g icing sugar
- 25 g cake flour *See note below
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg whites
- 10 g white granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 30 g unsalted butter, melted
*Note: How to make cake flour: here
In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks.
Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl).
On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand.).
Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix. Fold in melted butter. Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
- 200 g unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g icing sugar
- 7 large egg whites
- 220 g cake flour
- Food coloring gel, paste or liquid
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand). Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously. Fold in sifted flour. Tint batter with colouring to desired colour, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde – How to make the pattern
Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative.
Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. Or use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer.
Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)
Preparing the Joconde for Molding
Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.) Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mould, decorative side facing out.
Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mould, if one cut piece is not long enough. The mould is done, and ready to fill.
Making Bavarian Cream filling
- gelatine, 4 sheets
- milk, 400 ml
- egg yolks, 3
- caster sugar, 100 g
- organic lemon, 1
- cream, 500 ml
Draw gelatine sheets into cold water.
Crack eggs open and place egg yolks in a mixing bowl (you know what to do with white eggs, don’t you?). Add sugar and whisk eggs with a wooden spoon until you have a light cream.
Add the lemon peel to the milk and bring the milk to the boil. Remove the lemon rind and pour it little by little over egg mixture, sieving it through a colander and stirring continuously. Add the juice of one lemon and stir to mix. Place on low flame and bring to simmer, stirring. As soon as it start to simmer, remove the mixture from the heat and add the squeezed gelatine, stir until it is dissolved thoroughly.
Sieve again the mixture and set aside to cool completely. When it is cold, whip the cream until firm and fold it into the egg mixture.
Fill the Joconde mould and put in the fridge for at least three hours.
To cover the , use Italian Meringue from this recipe.