Can you keep a secret? Despite this blog’s name, I’d say 90% of cakes I try I don’t even like. There’s always some reason: too much buttercream, too dry, too sweet, too rich, too dense, and just plain Meh! And that’s just American style cakes!
French cakes, called Entremets have a lot more going on: more layers, more flavors, more textures. True combinations of the gods, like mango, passion fruit coulis with coconut cream or almond biscuit with black current confit and chestnut floral mousse. I’ve had the pleasure of trying such entremets in France and they have truly changed my perception on what can be done with cakes.
During our entremets week, we focused on the classic French recipes, and while some were certainly Meh, there were quite a few standouts. Each cake brought along with it some fresh technique I will certainly bring back to crumb coated life.
Here are the highlights:
Piped out Biscuit Cuillere (Lady Fingers). We created a meringue type biscuit and piped into tiny logs coated with powdered sugar for the lady fingers portion. We also piped out two rounds of the same batter to create two layers of the cake.
Setting up the Pear Charlotte: line the edge of the cake ring with lady fingers and press tightly together. Push one of the prepared rounds all the way to the bottom of the ring. Spread an even layer of Vanilla Bavarian Cream and add sliced poached pears. Add the second round of biscuit, and top off with a final even layer of Bavarian Cream. Arrange poached pear slices on top and caramelize with a blow torch. Coat the pears with a thin layer of clear glaze to give the cake some shine.
Completed Charlotte Aux Poires (Pear Charlotte). Slightly old fashioned, but just screaming for a modern twist.
Next we made the Framboisier, or raspberry entremet. Our first step was to create a horizontal stripe design in the sponge cake to wrap around the exterior of the cake. This is called the Appareil a cigarette. We made a basic sponge recipe with added red food coloring and spread it out on a lined baking sheet. We then used a large pastry comb to create red stripes of cake (as Lisa is doing in the picture above) and froze the dough.
The second step of this process is to pour a plain sponge batter over the frozen red stripes and spread into an even layer. This is then baked and cut to desired shape. We lined our cake rings with an evenly sliced strip of the biscuit to create an interesting exterior design.
Completed Framboisier. You can see the exterior striped biscuit. The interior of the cake was make with a basic Genoise (or sponge cake) on the bottom layer. This was soaked in raspberry liquor and topped with an even layer of Diplomat Cream. We added some raspberries and then topped with another layer of soaked sponge cake. Finally, we added one last even layer of diplomat cream. Finish with a design of glazed raspberries.
Completed Foret Noire or old school Black Forrest Cake. This entremet was surprisingly fun to make and much more delicious than the American counterpart of my distant memory. We made a chocolate genoise (sponge) base for the bottom layer, followed by a thick layer of rich chocolate mousse and cherries. We added a second layer of cherry soaked chocolate sponge and finished with an even coating of Chantilly Cream (whipped cream) around the sides and top of the cake. We made chocolate curls to decorate the top and side of the cake. We topped with a few cherries to finish.
Here comes the “Meh!” The Moka entremet (Mocha cake) was a basic as it comes. One bottom layer of Genoise (sponge cake) topped with basic mocha butter cream and a second layer of sponge cake. We coated the entire cake with mocha butter cream, crushed almonds and piped designed. They looked like American grocery store cake and tasted like it as well. Go figure.
The Royal was my instant favorite, combining various flavors and textures into a decadent and luxurious entremet. We layered a light and airy sponge between rich chocolate mousse and crunchy praline biscuit. It was topped off with a traditional, glossy chocolate glaze which was surprisingly difficult to do. Expect to see this recipe in the future!
Finally, the week concluded with classic Opera cake. We layered thin pieces of coffee soaked sponge cake with coffee flavored creme anglaise (custard-like cream) and dark chocolate ganache; topping with a dark chocolate glaze.