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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Culinary School - Session 34: Chocolate Ganache Cake, Marjolaine, Lady Fingers, Fruit Bavarian and Charlotte Russe

Culinary School: Session 34 (11.3.14)

Chocolate Ganache Cake, Marjolaine, Lady Fingers, Fruit Bavarian and Charlotte Russe

He puts the eggs in the mixing bowl, whips it all up...

I know... more Egg Foam Cakes. Just several classes into the Cakes unit, and it seems like we've been seeing the same basic cake over and over again. But stick with me... for there's a method behind the madness (or perhaps it's a madness behind the method -- either way, you're getting cake).

Cake Assembly Mise-en-Place

It's Le Tour de Gateaux...

First up was the Genoise, a whole-egg cake. A few eggs were feverishly whipped into a fluffy but extremely delicate foam. Flour, sugar and a trace amount of butter were subsequently folded into the mix, the clock ticking as the eggs deflated with each passing second. The process ended with a full-on sprint to the ovens where we stood guard. Open those oven doors and disturb my cake, and I will burn you with a hot spoon, so help me St. Honore, patron saint of bakers!

discussed the end product last week. The cake looked, felt and (to be honest, while I do not have direct experience, I can only imagine) tasted like a sofa cushion. Be thankful for flavorful cake washes and delicious Buttercreams - pastry first aid. 

Incremental improvements came in the form of Angel Food Cake and Dacquoise. As egg-white only cakes with French Meringue as the base for the batter, these cakes were much more stable (thank you egg white proteins) and had a sweeter flavor. It was certainly better than the Genoise, but without egg yolks or additional fat, the texture was still lacking.

So along come Lady Fingers (Biscuit a la Cuillere). Lady Fingers are another whole-egg cake, but unlike the Genoise, the whites and yolks are whipped separately and then combined. A small change, but it's a step towards solving both the stability and missing-fat issues. 

And Le Tour continues...

If you build it (and build it, and build it and build it)... they will come (with forks).

The mise-en-place gods must be smiling. As any cake designer knows, cakes demand tremendous organization, time and focus to assemble.

This session focused on two cakes - the Chocolate Ganache Cake and the Marjolaine. Both cakes are still works-in-process, thanks to some necessary overnight chill time. So check back tonight for the final photos.

More Cake Assembly Mise-en-Place

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (11.3.14):
  • Flour: 14,140g
  • Eggs: 6,300g (126x)
  • Sugar: 6,900g
  • Butter: 8,800g
  • Milk/Cream: 7,250g

- The Recipes -


Chocolate Ganache Cake (Genoise au Chocolat Glacee)

A Chocolate Genoise based cake with alternating layers of cake and chocolate ganache. The final cake is doused in a glossy Chocolate Glaze. 

Focus Techniques:
- Assembling a layered cake inside of a ring mold. The mold is coated with Chocolate Buttercream and chilled. When the cake is fully assembled, the outside of the mold is gently torched to melt some of the Buttercream, releasing the cake.
- Flavoring the somewhat bland cake with a cake wash. To enhance the flavor and moistness of the cake, a combination of simple syrup and some form of extract or liquor can be applied to each layer of the cake with a pastry brush. I chose peppermint schnapps.
- Trimming the layers of the cake so that the final height does not exceed the top of the ring mold. The thickness of the chocolate ganache layers must also be taken into consideration.
- Using a Whipping Ganache, a combination of cream and chocolate. The Ganache becomes thicker as it is whipped. Over-whipping the Ganache will result in a product that is too thick to pipe.
- Piping even layers of Chocolate Whipping Ganache. The layers should be approximately 1/2" thick.
- Coating the top of the cake with a crumb coat of Buttercream prior to coating the cake in the Chocolate Glaze. 

Chocolate Buttercream Lined Cake Ring

Cake with Wash Inside Ring Mold

Top Layer of Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake



A tiered terror or multi-layered monstrosity? Call it what you will, the Marjolaine is a monument to excess. 

This cake starts with a layer of Chocolate Genoise covered in Chocolate Ganache. That simple enough creation is then covered with a layer of Dacquoise, covered with a layer of Creme d'Or, covered with another layer of Dacquoise, covered with a layer of Praline Buttercream, covered with another layer of Dacqouise, covered with a layer of Creme Chantilly, covered with another layer of Dacqouise... all topped with a Chocolate Glaze.

Um, check please...

Focus Techniques:
- "Rough" assembling a cake. While the individual layers need to be roughly the same shape and of even thickness, the final cake is chilled and trimmed for clean edges. Having somewhat messy edges and dripping filling early on in the process is not a problem.
- Mixing a Cream d'Or, a folded mixture of Creme Fouette (Whipped Cream) and melted chocolate. The Creme Fouette needs to be somewhat under-whipped as the subsequent folding with the melted chocolate further stiffens the cream. Trying to fold firm Creme Fouette with melted chocolate will result in an over-whipped product.
- Creating a stabilized Creme Chantilly (Sweetened Whipped Cream) by adding gelatin. Cakes filled with gelatin-stabilized whipped cream are better able to withstand time in the fridge or freezer.

Marjolaine Chocolate Glaze Layer

Marjolaine Dacquoise Layer

Marjolaine Creme d'Or Layer

Marjolaine Praline Buttercream Layer

Marjolaine Stabilized Whipped Cream Layer

Trimmed Marjolaine

Glazed Marjolaine

Layers of Marjolaine


Lady Fingers (Biscuit a la Cuillere)

An Egg Foam Cake in which the white and yolks are whipped separately and then folded together with the flour. The resulting cake is more stable than if the whole eggs were whipped together. And unlike egg-white-only cakes, such as Angel Food Cake and Dacquoise, there is a textural benefit from retaining the fat-heavy yolks.

Focus Techniques:
- Creating an egg foam batter by whipping the whites and yolks separately.
- Following the general rules of folding: Always fold the lighter mixture into the heavier mixture. Fold in stages. Do not wait until the mixture is fully homogenous before folding in the next stage.
- Piping the delicate batter to retain as much air in the mixture as possible.
- Caramelizing the outside of the Lady Fingers by dusting them with powdered sugar before baking.


Fruit Bavarian (Bavarois aux Fruit)

A Bavarian is a mixture of some base (in this case, a fruit puree) with gelatin and whipped cream. With seemingly limitless flavor possibilities, the result is an extremely versatile filling for countless cakes and tarts.

Focus Techniques:
- Melting sugar and gelatin into half of the fruit puree. By heating only some of the puree, it will be easier to chill the final mixture.
- Straining the puree, sugar and gelatin mixture. Straining will remove any undissolved lumps of gelatin. However, this may not be desirable for certain fruits (e.g. raspberries, with a high seed content).
- Actively stirring the puree, sugar and gelatin mixture over an ice bath so that it is completely cool and just starting to set before adding the whipped cream. Adding whipped cream to warm puree will deflate the cream.
- Folding the whipped cream into the puree before the gelatin sets too much. If the puree starts to become too firm, it will not be possible to create a smooth combination of the puree and whipped cream.


Charlotte Russe

Named for the wife of King George III of England (although why, I'm not sure), this cake was the invention of necessity. Food legend has it that a dessert of Bavarian Cream was to be served in 1815 at a celebration banquet for Louis XVIII upon his return to Paris. When the cream would not set due to an insufficient supply of gelatin, the innovative Marie-Antoine Careme decided to add Lady Fingers to the sides of the melting dessert. Lady Fingers meet Bavarian Cream... the Charlotte Russe! 

Focus Techniques:
- Creating a long strip of parallel-piped Lady Fingers to line the outside of the Charlotte Russe cake mold. Each "finger" should be of equal length, have a distinct shape and just touch. The final strip is trimmed to just fit the inside of the cake mold.
- Lining the cake mold with acetate (plastic sheet) in order to make it easier to release the cake once assembled.
- Creating a base circle for the cake. The base should be trimmed to fit inside of the mold after the outside ring of Lady Fingers has been fitted.
- Filling the cake with Bavarian Cream, leaving about 1/2" of space to the top of the Lady Fingers.

Base for Charlotte Russe

Lined Mold for Charlotte Russe

Bavarian Cream Filled Charlotte Russe

Pear Charlotte Russe

Take a look at the full syllabus

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