Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mocha Bavarian Cream Gateau with Joconde Imprime

DISCLAIMER: This is a long post where I have babbled on how I spent the past 4 months of my life. If you are not jobless like me and have better work to do than read gibber, you may scroll down and read the recipe.

I saw this cake for the first time here on Ria's blog in January. I had just logged on and opened Ria's blog, I saw this cake and I knew that I had to prepare it. But even before I could go through the recipe, Umma asked me to shut down the laptop and prepare for my preparatory exams(Woah! That sounds odd). Soon after my exams, somewhere in the month of Feb, I went online again. I quickly rushed to Ria's blog and checked her home page. No Biscuit Joconde Imprime! I was really confused. Had I been dreaming it all? Or was it somebody else's blog? Fingers crossed, I clicked the previous posts button.And oh my! There it was! The pic that I had been dreaming about for a whole month. This time thankfully I had enough time to go through the recipe. But I couldn't make head or tail out of it. What was the cigarette batter and the joconde? And the cigarette batter was not even mentioned in the assembling part.Just looking at the recipe sent my head reeling. 'This is so not like Ria', I thought. I mean, Ria's recipes were always crystal clear and left me with no doubts at all. But with this one, I had a 101 questions already. And to top it all up, the difficulty level was like 15/10. I realized that no matter how inviting the photo is, this cake would never come from my kitchen. So the cake was forgotten, or at least pushed to the back of my mind, and I began to prepare for my final exams.

By first week of march, I  had attained freedom from exams and had the laptop to myself. I revisited the cake harm in drooling over the pic, right? Seeing the pic gave me a little courage. I decided to take the cake as a challenge. The day I prepare it, I could consider myself to be great. Ha ha ha! I studied the recipe carefully till I got an idea on how it was prepared. I googled about the joconde and understood how it was done. This specific page was quite helpful, with the detailed photos. I decided that 31st of march, the day Nada would write her last board exam, would be the perfect day.

After I came to Qatar, I began my preparations for the cake: some more research, purchasing all the ingredients and a mail to Ria to clarify my silly doubts. I couldn't contain myself and decided to prepare the cake on her 4th exam and not the last one. I started with the genoise. Once it went into the oven, I decided to take a small break. After 50 minutes, I checked my cake- it had burnt. I was heartbroken. All my dreams were shattered. If that wasn't enough, I was feeling guilty for having wasted 5 eggs. To me, eggs are something really precious. There have been many cases where I didn't prepare a dish due to the amount of eggs used in it. So 5 eggs wasn''t a joke to me. After that, I didn't have the courage to prepare the cake again. Until my aunt asked me as to when was I planning to try my hands on the cake again. That was the push I needed. I reminded myself of the proverb which says that there is no cook who hasn't prepared a failed dish..or something of that sort, I can't remember the exact wordings. 

Anyway, during Nada's final exam, I re-attempted the cake. This time I started with the joconde. Ria had told me that the joconde can burn easily, so I checked it after 3 minutes, though the recipe asks it to baked for 7 minutes. Guess what- it had just 3 minutes. Now I realized that something was wrong with my oven. Otherwise, how can a sponge cake burn in 3 minutes, when it is not even cooked completely.

After this, I decided to close the chapter of biscuit joconde imprime for now, and try it out when I had become a better cook, or at least got a better oven. Then, in mid-April, my friend Julie called me. When I was in 7th grade, we friends decided to get together sand prepare something. Basically, it was just an excuse to get together. And this became a tradition. We would get together about once or twice a year and prepare something 'different'. Usually it comprised of a main dish and a dessert. Julie had called me regarding this. She wanted us to restart our 'cooking class', as we liked to call it. It was then that it occurred to me, that we could prepare this cake together. I sent her the link though I was sure that she would say no on reading the recipe. But well, I was wrong. She was really excited on seeing the photo(that is the magic of Ria's photos) and we decided that Julie, our friend Aaliya and I would get together to prepare it. Since it was a time consuming recipe, we decided to not to prepare anything else along with it. On the D-day, I got a call from Aaliya telling me that she wouldn't be able to come, so probably they should cancel the plans, or postpone the date. Cancel? No way. I had prepared a lot for this cake. And nothing was going to stop me from prepare the cake. I decided that the cake would be prepared, whether Aaliya is present, or not(Do I sound rude?). SO Julie and I got together. Ria had taken 2 hours to prepare the cake, plus 2 hours for refrigeration. But for me, after 2 hours, only the genoise was ready, the bavarian cream was underway, and our legs were paining due to standing in the kitchen for so long. I was so nervous, I began to make all sorts of mistakes. Most of them could be  corrected, but one major mistake was to add cocoa powder to the mocha bavarian cream. Well, the whole cake is made of chocolate- the genoise contains chocolate, the joconde contained chocolate, the ganache is nothing but chocolate, so the cream was the only part which balanced the chocolate taste- and I added cocoa powder to it too. Though, I am not sure if it can be called a mistake, because no one felt that the cake was too chocolate-ey. Of course, I will have to prepare the cake again minus the cocoa powder in the cream to decide which one is better.

Coming to the end product, it was quite a pain to assemble it. Julie and I had a tough time cutting the cake into three layers. The first layer came out nice and thick. But when we tried to get the next two layers, the cake crumbled and we were left with cake crumbs. So we used the first cut layer as the base and used the crumbs to compensate for the next two layers. As we were assembling the crumbs, I and Julie were joking that this cake would be called the beggar's cake, as we were struggling to get enough crumbs to cover the whole cake. 

When the cake was ready, I was too scared to do the taste test. I let Julie do the honors. One bite and 'Awesome ' came out the reply. I was elated. Finally, I had done it. I decided to take my first bite next. And I realized  Julie was right. I felt like as though the chocolate and coffee flavors were playing hide-and-seek inside my mouth. The joconde had a deep almond flavor, though its flavor couldn't be heard under the screams of the chocolate and coffee. Everyone agreed that the cake was simply awesome, the best cake I had prepared to date. To me, Nada's comment was the most important, as she has been a loyal critic to my food. She has always been very frank regarding her comments. So when she told me that it tasted just like it was bought, my joy knew no bounds. Julie's parents also agreed that it was really good. 

Aaliya, too bad you couldn't join us. Here's a slice for you :). Ria, thank you so much for making my dream come true. And Julie, I am still waiting for the World Cooks Federation to come and give us a prize for making the impossible possible.

Coming to the recipe, the cake is divided into 4 parts: the genoise(basic chocolate cake), the mocha bavarian cream, the joconde(the outer covering, to give the pattern) and the ganache.


Chocolate genoise:
125 g flour
125g powdered sugar
125g chocolate,melted
100 g butter
5 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mocha bavarian cream:
11g powdered gelatin
75ml cold water

2 large egg yolks
62.5g granulated sugar
250ml milk
4ml vanilla extract
3/4 tbsp instant coffee powder
6g cocoa powder

250 ml heavy cream/Amul cream

30g softened unsalted butter
30g powdered sugar
1 egg white
20g flour
6g cocoa powder

75g ground almonds
75g powdered sugar
20g flour
2 whole eggs
30g melted butter
2 egg whites
12g sugar

Chocolate ganache:
125g semisweet chocolate/dark chocolate
125 g heavy cream/ Amul cream


Chocolate genoise:
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Grease and dust a 10" baking tin and line the base with a greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter in a small bowl over a pan of hot water and leave for any sediments to settle. Pour off the clear ghee from the top of the bowl ( you can use homemade/storebought ghee instead).It should not be hot when it is added to the mixture.
Sieve the flour and baking powder twice.
Separate the yolks and whites and keep in 2 bowls.
Add sugar to the yolks and beat over a pan of hot water until thick and creamy.Add vanilla.
Sieve the flour on to the egg mixture.Do not stir in.Pour the melted butter slowly over the flour, around the sides. 
Pour the melted chocolate. 
Whisk the egg whites stiff(not dry) . 
Add a little whisked egg whites to the flour and mix gently.
Fold in the remaining whites carefully.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 mins. 
The cake is cooked when it shrinks from the sides of the tin and springs back into shape when pressed.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave it for 2 mts in the tin on a wet cloth and then turn it out on a clean dry towel.
Peel of the paper and invert the cake on a wire rack.
When cooled, slice horizontally into 3.

Mocha bavarian cream:
Soak the gelatin in cold water and let it bloom for 5-6 minutes.
Whip the yolks and sugar until light and thick.
Scald milk and slowly add it into the egg mixture,beating constantly.
Cook this mixture over a water bath until it thickens slightly.
Add vanilla extract and coffee powder and mix well to dissolve. Add cocoa powder if using.
Melt the gelatin and add into the egg mixture.
Let it cool over ice or in the fridge till half set, making sure to stir in every now and then to keep the mixture smooth.
Whip cream to soft peaks,DO NOT over whip.
When the egg custard has thickened, and not yet set, fold in the cream.
Pour in between the cake layers (as mentioned in the 'assembly' below).

Beat 30g powdered sugar and the softened butter together till fluffy.
Beat in an egg white and add 20g flour and cocoa to it.Mix well.
Spread this batter on a parchement paper and make designs on it using your fingers/forks/pastry combs etc.
Freeze this for 15 mins. DO NOT skip this.

Beat 2 egg whites stiff by adding the sugar (granulated) towards the end. Reserve.
Beat almonds,powdered sugar,flour,whole eggs together till fluffy and add the melted butter.
Fold in the egg whites carefully and pour this batter over the frozen cigarette batter.
Spread it to an even 1/4" thickness.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 475F/250C for 7 minutes. The cake should spring back when touched lightly.
Let it cool for 5 mins and then carefully transfer it onto a chopping board and trim as needed to fit your moulds.

Chocolate ganache:
Chop the chocolate into small bits and reserve in a stainless steel /glass bowl.
Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate.
Let it sit for 5 mins. Stir till it is smooth. It will be loose now, you can leave it in the fridge for 10 mins to get it slightly thickened. This can be prepared just before the assembly of the cake and refrigerated till everything, except for the ganache , has been assembled.

Make a soaking syrup by dissolving 1cup granulated sugar in 1cup warm water.
Split the Chocolate genoise into 3, horizontally.
Cut out a strip of parchment paper whose length is a little more than the circumference of the cake pan and whose height is the same as that of the cake tin.
Arrange the piece of parchment paper around the pan.
Cut the joconde into the size of the springform pan (circumference) to fit snuggly. There should be no gaps.
Place a layer of genoise at the bottom and soak it generously with 1/4 c of soaking syrup. Top it with half of the bavarian cream. Repeat. The last layer should be the genoise.
Top it with chocolate ganache and level it using a spatula, preferably offset.
Cover the whole assembly with a cling film and let it set in the refigerator for 2 hours.
Decorate the top of the cake as you need and serve chilled.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prince William's Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This post has been lying in my drafts box since about a week. I couldn't post it since I wasn't able to upload the pics. I know the wedding celebrations have died down, but better now than never, right?

I am not British. I have never stepped into the kingdom either. So the royal wedding was just like any other wedding to me. I was not among the billions of people around the world who were waiting for the D-day, following each and every news report about the wedding. Until I heard about the groom's cake. Now I just need an excuse to cook. So when I heard that Prince William's favorite cake's recipe has been made public, I knew I had to try my hand on it.
And when I cook, I do my homework beforehand. I spent a whole night reading about the royal family, the wedding preparations, the groom's cake and the fondness the Queen and her grandson share for this cake.
Preparing the cake was a breeze. I think it was the easiest cake I've ever prepared. I tweaked the recipe slightly to a large extent as I did not have enough dark chocolate in hand and I had no patience to let my butter "soften".

The end result was delicious. I am not sure if you can call it a cake. Nor can you call it a candy bar. It was somewhere in between. I don't think the English vocabulary has any word that can describe this dessert. Or if there is, then I for one haven't come across it. Anyway, coming back to the cake, it uses McVitie's, one of my favorite cookie brands(which is one of the main reasons I decided to prepare the cake at the first place). I was a little hesitant to prepare the cake since it contains raw egg, but then I reminded myself that I am a person who eats cake batter on a regular basis. So if that couldn't harm my health, this cake couldn't either. Of course I had to hide this fact from my family, or else they would never eat the cake ;) Strangely, the cake had a caramel flavor, though no caramel has been used in the preparation. Not that I am complaining. Talking about complaints, the only change I would like to bring about would be to use a smaller pan, since my cake was very thin.

Next time, I don't think I will need an excuse to prepare the cake. The cake was wonderful. No wonder it is one of Her Majesty's favorites.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake: (I have written down my version. Check the source for the original recipe.)

1/2 tsp. softened butter for greasing pan
8 oz. McVities rich tea biscuits, broken into almond-sized pieces
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra fine granulated sugar
4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) chopped milk chocolate or milk chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
8 oz. chocolate for icing

Lightly grease a 6" spring form pan.  Set aside.  
Melt 4 oz. chocolate in a double boiler or microwave it for 1 minute on high. Stir well. Add butter and stir till it melts. Add sugar and mix till well incorporated.  Add the egg and continue to stir.  Fold in biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the chocolate coated biscuits into the cake pan.  Press firm with the back of a spoon to fill in any gaps - the bottom of the cake will be the top when turned out.  Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Remove cake and unmould on a wire rack.  Melt the 8 oz of chocolate (I did this in the microwave) and pour over the cake.  Spread smooth with an off-set spatula.  Allow chocolate coated cake to sit at room temperature until chocolate is set.  When set, run a spatula under the cake to remove from wire rack (chocolate makes it stick a little).  Transfer to a fancy serving platter, slice and serve.