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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Culinary School - Session 32: Genoise, Pound Cake and Buttercream


Culinary School: Session 32 (10.29.14)

Genoise, Pound Cake and French Buttercream



And so it begins...

Cake! As a child, it was a vehicle for frosting. How many sibling arguments have there been over who received the corner piece, disproportionately loaded with all of the Buttercream rosettes? 

But let's face it... there's a lot of bad cake out there. And the Internet is a cornucopia of decorating disasters. Mass produced grocery store creations all seem to feature equal parts bad cake and cloying sweet frosting. And the 1950's-introduced boxed versions asked the home baker to "just add water" and delivered little more in the end product.

The next few weeks will be just Part I of Cakes - an initial overview of the basic types and techniques. Genoise, Bavarians, Charlottes, Mousses and Parfaits... they're all part of the initial tour... as is decorating with Pate a Cornet, Marzipan, Fondant and Sugar Paste.

To kick things off, we start with two basic cakes: Genoise and Pound Cake. Genoise is widely derided by pastry chefs as the worst cake ever (how's that for a strong sale!), but with some enhancements, it was actually pretty delicious. As for Pound Cake, who isn't familiar with this basic chemically leavened cake that graces the display cases of every Starbucks from Seattle to Shanghai?

Genoise Cake



- Ingredients Running Tally -



All that Buttercream! Those pound blocks of delicious dairy will be flying from the refrigerators for weeks to come. After all, we did use two pounds per person in just one class.

Ingredients used to date (10.29.14):
  • Flour: 14,350g
  • Eggs: 6,650g (133x)
  • Sugar: 7,375g
  • Butter: 9,425g
  • Milk/Cream: 7,750g



- The Recipes -



Item:

Genoise


Description:
Genoise is a whipped, whole-egg cake in which eggs and sugar are gently heated (~110 degrees Fahrenheit) and then whipped into a light foam. Dry ingredients are sifted and gently folded into the whipped mixture along with a small amount of butter. The mixture is immediately baked to prevent the cake from collapsing. The cake's height and fluffiness depend upon the mechanical leavening of the trapped air within the batter.

The cake itself is rather bland and somewhat dry (it would seem to be many pastry chefs' least favorite cake). To enhance the flavor, the cake can be washed with a flavored simple syrup and covered with buttercream.

Focus Techniques (Mixing/Baking):
- Creating a whole-egg foam by first gently heating the eggs and sugar over a bain-marie and then whipping the mixture to the ribbon stage.
- Adding dry ingredients into a delicate egg foam. The dry ingredients should be sifted to remove any clumps. The dry ingredients should be folded into the egg foam in three to four additions. This slow incorporation of the dry ingredients prevents them from deflating the egg foam. However, it is important to make each addition before the batter looks smooth as over-folding the batter will deflate the foam and develop unwanted gluten.
- Mixing melted butter with a small amount of the batter before folding it into the mixture. This method ensures that the butter is of a more similar consistency to the overall batter, making it easier to incorporate. 
- Baking the cake in a butter-brushed, flour-dusted mold with parchment.
- Spinning the mold prior to baking in order to push the batter towards the edges, helping to reduce any potential dome formation during baking.
- Testing the cake for doneness: Brown finish, springy feeling to the touch, edges pulling away from the mold and a test skewer in the center of the cake removes clean.

Baked Genoise


Focus Techniques (Decoration):
- Before slicing the horizontal layers, creating a vertical score mark up one side of the cake. This gives you a guide for lining up the layers when re-assembling the cake.
- Using a flavored simple syrup wash on each layer to enhance an otherwise bland cake. It is easiest to soak each layer prior to assembling the cake. For the top of the cake, apply the wash to the underside of the layer (the cut side) so that the wash will easily soak into the cake.

First Layer of Genoise with Cake Soak Applied

- Creating a barrier at the edge of each layer of the cake using Buttercream. This seals in any filling.

First Layer of Genoise with Edge Barrier of Buttercream Applied

First Layer of Genoise with Raspberry Filling

Fully Layer Genoise

- Applying an initial 'Crumb Coat' of Buttercream prior to applying a final layer to the cake. This initial coating catches loose cake crumbs. The cake is then refrigerated briefly and the Crumb Coat becomes a smooth surface onto which the final Buttercream can be applied. 


Finished Genoise with Candied Almonds and Buttercream Rosettes

Sliced Genoise with Raspberry Jam Filling and Buttercream

Slice of Genoise with Raspberry Jam Filling and Buttercream



Item:

Pound Cake


Description:
A simple creaming method cake made from butter, sugar, flour and eggs in (near) equal proportion. The cake is commonly flavored with orange and lemon zest, but it can be enhanced with various extracts. The cake is sweet and dense, with baking powder used as a chemical leavener.


Focus Techniques:
- Using the creaming method to mix the butter, sugar and eggs.
- Massaging the orange and lemon zest into the sugar in order to release more of the flavorful oils.
- Folding the flour into the creamed butter, sugar and eggs by hand. This gentle incorporation minimizes gluten development.
- Scoring the center of the loaf either prior to baking or after 10-15 minutes in the oven. Scoring helps the cake rise, designating a line at which the cake can easily split.



Item:

French Buttercream 


Description:
A rich, egg-yolk based Buttercream. Following a Italian-Meringue-like process, a heated syrup is added to whipping egg yolks to create a light and sweet base into which butter is slowly beaten. 

French Buttercream is extremely rich, given the high fat content from all of the egg yolks (other Buttercreams typically use only egg whites). As a result, French Buttercream may be less stable at room temperature.

Focus Techniques:
- Creating a whipped egg-yolk base. Unlike egg whites, it is not possible to over-whip the egg yolks, so you can start to whip them in a mixer while focusing on other steps.
- Making a sugar syrup brought to the softball stage (235 degrees Fahrenheit). 
- Incorporating the sugar syrup into the whipping egg yolks by slowly and steadily pouring the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl. Hitting the spinning whisk can cause the syrup to splatter and create hardened crystals of sugar.
- Waiting to incorporate the butter until the whipping egg yolks and sugar syrup are completely cool. Adding the butter too soon may cause it to melt.
- Adding the butter slowly and in small pieces. The mixture may initially look broken. Adding more butter will ultimately smooth the texture.
- After the butter has been add, switching to a paddle attachment to beat out any excess air, creating a denser and more stable Buttercream.



Take a look at the full syllabus




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