Saturday, February 13, 2010

P.S., I Cake You

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(To see what's on the inside, click here)


Love. It comes in so many incarnations. On a conversation heart it’s “luv.” In a fifth grade classroom, it’s a smart assed boy mouthing “olive juice.” In Annie Hall, it’s “lerf.” In my house, it’s cake.

You can write “I love you” on a cake, to make your emotional disposition conclusive. But any schlub can do that, pipe a sentiment on cake with icing. Why make it so easy, when true love rarely is? Why not make it hard? Because anyone can buy a trinket, a box of chocolates or pipe a few letters on a cake. Not everyone can bake the “love” right onto the cake. It’s a lot of work. It takes more time then you really want to invest. It’s messy. But it’s beautiful. Just like true love.

UPDATE AS OF 2013:  Since this post of so many years ago (Feb. 2010) was written, I've been pleased as punch that so many are trying this technique.  Click HERE for my most recent post, celebrating 4th of July:




Décor Sides!

The theory of décor sides (or joconde imrpime) is that you create a pattern with the tuille paste, freeze it and then pour joconde batter over the pattern and bake at a high temperature to make a festive and edible cake wrapper. That's the theory, here are the directions.

FOR THE TUILLE BATTER

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sifted confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons egg whites
5 tablespoons sifted bread flour
Food coloring

PROCEDURE
Cream the butter and confectioners sugar until well combined with your paddle attachment. You’re not looking for fluffy here, just a nice smooth paste. Slowly add egg whites, scraping the bowl every now and again. You’ll notice that the paste starts to break apart. This is normal and that’s why you add the egg whites slowly. Add flour but don’t over mix. You want a smooth paste not a fluffy batter. Add a few drops of food coloring or add a few tablespoons of cocoa powder for brown.

There are special grills and combs made for making tuille paste patterns but it’s likely you don’t have them hanging around at your house. If you have tuille cutouts, you can use those. If you have an icing scraper, you can use that to make stripes. Otherwise, I pipe shapes and words on a Silpat but have to write backwards. The side you're seeing when you write is the reverse side of the actual cake. I write whatever the message is with a Sharpie on a thin white piece of paper and flip it over and put it under the Silpat as a guide, just make sure to pull the paper out before the decor sides go into the oven.

(writing backwards in 2 zones)

I also divide my sheetpan into 2 zones. Since no cake is as high as the width of a ½ sheetpan (at least not one I’m going to make for Valentine’s Day), you will end up cutting the décor sides in half lengthwise and attaching them to create a continuous band around the cake.

Freeze the tuille pattern until it is rock hard and get your jaconde sponge ready to go.

JOCONDE SPONGE

My version of Joconde is a spongier sponge recipe. The options for joconde in this application are either a very thin and elegant jaconde that easily becomes brittle or a thicker and easier to bend joconde. I’m all for easier to bend any time.

INGREDIENTS

3 ounces almond flour (or 3 ounces sliced, blanched almonds)
3 ounces confectioners sugar
1 ounces AP flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
1 ounce granulated sugar
1 ounce unsalted, melted butter

PROCEDURE

In a food processor, add confectioners and almond flour (or blanched almonds). Process for a few minutes until you have a very fine mixture, more fine than sand. Add flour, salt, whole eggs and egg yolk and process until completely incorporated.

In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer add egg whites and beat with whisk until frothy. Slowly add sugar and beat until you have stiff peaks but don’t over whip to the point that the egg whites start chunking up and drying. This will really screw up your incorporation of the egg whites into the sugar/almond flour mixture.

Pour the sugar/almond mixture into the bowl with the egg whites and start folding the two. You don’t have to be as delicate as you’d normally would with an egg white incorporation. You want to get major air bubbles out of the mixture (I know, you still have to separate and beat the egg whites even though your deflating them). This is just the magic of décor sides. Don’t question the tricks of the trade, I’ve learned not to.

Once you’ve pretty much incorporated the two, fold in the melted butter and make sure the butter is evenly distributed into the batter.

Preheat your oven to 400° and making for damn sure your tuille paste is frozen solid, pour the jaconde mixture into the sheetpan with the tuille paste writing. Tilt the pan here and there to let the jaconde spread evenly and very gently with a small offset spatula, spread the batter. You just have to make sure not to smear the underlying writing or decorations.

Immediately transfer the décor sides to the 400 degree oven and bake for just a few minutes. This usually takes no more than 5 minutes for me. And, as I’m paranoid, I turn the sheet pan a few times during the process. The batter should spring back when touched and may have a little browning. Make sure there’s no hint of wetness.

(Jaconde straight out of the oven)

Allow the sponge to cool and flip it over onto a parchment liberally dusted with confectioners sugar. Gently take off the silpat. Start at an edge and gently pull. The jaconde may stick so taking your time and pulling the silpat back slowly helps. Have a small offset spatula on hand to gently separate cake from silpat if you’re sticking.

(gently peel back Silpat)

I’m using my little décor on an 8” cake. I’ll cut the décor in half length
wise and then trim any uneven edges.

(trim lengthwise)

Then I wrap the décor around the inside of a cake ring, writing side out, trying to match the sides as best I can since one piece won’t wrap entirely around. My favorite way to use décor sides is with mousse cakes. I place a cake layer on the bottom of the prepared cake ring and pour my mouse into the mold and freeze until set!