Before I launch into this MASSIVE culinary/patisserie challenge, I have a few shout-outs to do here. Firstly, the inspiration and desire to attempt this complicated dessert came from one of my favourite bloggers:
I LOVE EVERYTHING this lady does; her baking, cooking and her writing. She’s brilliant. Please check out her blog. It was through her blog that I first came across this:
Here, once joined up, you can attempt the various challenges. The Biscuit Joconde Entremet was one of the challenges that Lisa completed and, I have to say, to such a professional standard that I could only stare open-mouthed at the photographs of her creation.
I have yet to sign up to be a Daring Baker. They have rules and time limits and a) I would have to print them out because I would unwittingly break the rules and get into trouble unless I had them in black and white in front of me and b) I don’t have enough time to deal with time constraints! I’m like my dad – I have to mull things over with a nice cuppa (or six) first. I have to check and re-check, think it through, plan and devise. This can be a week/two week long process which, by then, the time limits would be up. I think I’m time-challenged. Maybe I’ll join up to the Daring Kitchen, sit back and watch for a while and sign up once I get to grips with the idea….and find another ten hours in a day!
BUT, in the meantime, what with D’s birthday and the decision NOT to bake a cake (as he’s not a big cakey-bakey fan), I decided that THIS might be the ultimate birthday dessert. And, oh my, doesn’t it sound posh too? Hmmm, when I showed him the pile of papers, weight conversions (from US to UK), the adaptions, the plan and THE photograph, what did he do? Yup. Laughed! True, I did too, but I realised if I could pull this baby off, I could do anything in the kitchen and maybe, when I can’t keep the pace in teaching anymore, I could sideline into fancy-pants desserts?
Who knows? Maybe Raymond Blanc will need an ageing ex-teaching patisserie chef one day? Ooh La La!
So, here’s what I am aspiring to. This is NOT my photograph, it is taken from lisamichele.wordpress.com: TRULY stunning. If mine comes anywhere near to looking like this, I’m going professional!
I thought and thought about it. Originally, I was going to stick rigidly to Lisa’s instructions, but decided I needed to change it as D has never mentioned a love of peanut butter, so, knowing he quite likes Tiramisu, I decided to try and adapt the entremet. (Yeah, good luck there, Moo!) The whole concept of the entremet calls for a whole load of stability and so gelatin is used. I can’t eat gelatin, being a tree-hugging, animal-loving vegetarian so I purchased some agar-agar instead. Obviously, it was no good making a whole dessert just for D…I needed to benefit too! The agar-agar instructions said “use it equally as you would gelatin”. Simple, right? Hmmmm, we’ll see…
So, using Lisa’s construction as a guide, I decided upon the following layers:
* Biscuit Joconde Imprime
* Milk Chocolate Ganache
* Coffee/Bailey’s drenched Genoise
* Bailey’s Cream Mousse
* Cocoa Glace
I will take you through each section of the entremet daily. Today I will begin with the Biscuit Joconde.
Clearly, not a great photograph, but this is finished baked sponge/biscuit joconde imprime. Technically for me, this was a huge challenge. NEVER have I attempted anything quite so complex. In France, La Joconde means ‘Mona Lisa’. The world-famous painting Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, is supposed to be the portrait of the wife of an Italian merchant, Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo. Due to this, it is known as La Gioconda (La Jaconde in French). Da Vinci visited France in 1516 or 1517 as the guest of King François I, consequently remaining there until he died. The Mona Lisa was held in very high esteem by the French. Joconde, the name given to this type of sponge cake, is given to show how highly regarded it is amongst pastry chefs. The Biscuit Joconde Imprime comes in two parts: the Joconde Sponge and the ‘Imprime’ Joconde Pattern Paste. The Imprime is the ‘printed’ pattern, baked into the Joconde.
64 g (just over 1/2 cup) almond flour
57 g (1/2 cup PLUS 1 tbsp) icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
19 g (3 tbsp) self-raising flour (cake flour)
2 egg whites
7.5 g (1/2 tbsp) caster sugar
23 g (1 and 1/2 tbsp) butter
* Mix the egg whites and the caster sugar into firm glossy peaks.
* Sift almond flour, icing sugar, self-raising flour.
* Add the whole eggs a little at a time. Mix until smooth and light.
* Fold in the whipped egg whites gradually. Start with a third, then add the rest. Resist the temptation to overmix! Add the melted butter and fold in gently.
* Reserve the batter – you will use this once you have made the Joconde Imprime paste.
Joconde Pattern Paste (chocolate)
100 g (1/3 cup PLUS 1 tbsp) butter
100 g (1 cup) icing sugar
3.5 egg whites
85 g (3/4 cup) self-raising/cake flour
30 g (1/3 cup)cocoa powder
* Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
* Gradually add egg whites. Beat well.
* Sift flour and cocoa and then fold into the butter/egg white mixture.
* Squidge a flat swiss roll tin (I used the back of a flat roasting tin) with a quick spray of low-cal spray and then line with baking parchment. I then greased the baking parchment too.
* Fit a disposable piping bag with nozzle of your choice and fill the bag with your Joconde Pattern Paste. Pipe the pattern across your baking sheet. You can, alternatively, spread the paste over your sheet and ‘scratch’ patterns in using scraping tools, cutters etc.
* Once you are happy with your design (or scraping!), place the whole thing (tin and everything) into a freezer and leave to set HARD. If it is not hard enough, the pattern paste ‘blobs out’ during cooking.
* Remove the frozen pattern paste from the freezer. Now you need your reserved Joconde Sponge mixture. Very, very carefully, spread this over the top of your pattern using a spatula. It needs to be as thin as you dare – about 1/2 inch thick. When you are happy, bake in a medium oven (I used 160 degrees C) for around five minutes. It requires attentive baking. Too long and it will be too brittle to peel off the parchment.
* Once your Biscuit Joconde Imprime is cool, peel back the baking paper. I ended up running an INCREDIBLY long, sharp knife between the sponge and the baking paper which worked fine. It should look something like this:
* Leave to cool. In the meantime, line a 6 inch loose bottomed tin. I placed clingfilm UNDER the loose bottom, then, gathering the cling at the top, slid the bottom back into the tin. There should be no cling at the bottom of the tin, only UNDER the loose bottom, but cling along the inner edges. I then added a ring of parchment around the insides, leaving around 2 cm above the edge of the tin.
* Line the inside of your tin with the Joconde Sponge. Cut it 2 cm below the actual edge so that some of the fillings show above it. As you can see, I had to piece it, which isn’t ideal, but we learn from our mistakes, right?! Next time, I’d make it a little thicker (I think I took ‘thin’ to the extreme and lost a lot of the ends where it was too thin.)
* Place the sponge in the freezer to harden, ready for the ganache filling.
The execution of this part of the entremet dessert is so intricate and technical that when it came out, it didn’t matter that bits of it didn’t look precise or quite right; I was just thrilled that I’d pulled it off! Next time: PERFECTION! Isn’t there just something about the precision involved in baking that becomes almost obsessive? :) :)
TO COME TOMORROW : The Chocolate Ganache layer.