I still can't believe I made this!
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog ACCRO. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. *Gulp.* For my first challenge? Seriously? I'm not sure what was the most daunting: the recipe itself, finding the ingredients or figuring out how to pronounce the name of the challenge properly in French. LOL
A joconde imprime is a decorative design baked into a light (usually almond or hazelnut) sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts formed in molds with sides only and no top or bottom. Joconde batter bakes into a moist, thin, flexible cake that is cut into strips and used to line cake molds. Under bake the joconde and it will stick to your baking mat. Over bake and it will dry out and crack. Yikes!
Entremets are ornate desserts with different layers of cake and (chilled) pastry creams set in a mold.
This cake was R&D purchased at Cocola Bakery
For inspiration I went to a Cocola bakery and purchased a dessert similar to the one I needed to make. Specifically I wanted to study the thinness of the "Joconde" sponge cake and how it wrapped around the fillings.
This cake was R&D purchased at Cocola Bakery
I had grand visions of how my entremet would be. I wanted two layers of cake and one layer of mousse... I already owned 6" springform cake pans but needed an outer ring to use as the form to put the imprime in and fill. I found a cake ring online that I thought would be perfect! The inside measurement of my springforms are 5.75 inches wide. The ring I saw online was (I thought) 6.25 inches wide. With a half inch allowance for my imprime it would be perfect!
Mishap #1 - part one: What happened in a nutshell was I purchased the cake ring on Amazon along with two additional items to qualify for free shipping. When the receipt arrived by email I noticed I was charged $6.76 shipping. I messaged to find out why, (my fault, not theirs for choosing "standard" shipping when I placed my order). They reversed the shipping on two of my three items but one item was already in processing. Now, by itself, it was going to cost $8.42 shipping! That was more than the original shipping total for all three items and now the other two items would take twice as long to get here! How could that be? At the end of the very long phone call the nice man at Amazon reversed the charges for me. It was, in short, a bit of a nightmare.
get this tiny cake ring I was darn well going to use it and decided to make a multi-tiered 3" cake.
Mishap #2 - mini crisis: I couldn't find hazelnut flour/meal ready made so I decided to make it from scratch. Click HERE for the instructions I used but know that I didn't freeze the nuts.
Mishap #3 - MAJOR complication: After shelling the nuts I baked them to loosen the skins to remove them. In theory baking was supposed to loosen the skins so they would fall off when rubbed between two dishtowels. Yeah, that didn't happen. I think four nuts had the shells rub off. The rest I had to hand peel with a paring knife. It was kind of crazy but I was committed and wanted the nuts as clean as possible so that my joconde wouldn't be discolored. This turned out to be the worst and hardest part of the entire challenge. Once the nuts were peeled I processed them through a mini-food processor in very small batches making sure to stir them away from the edges to keep the flour "loose."
Mishap #4 - mini complication: To create an interior layer I decided to make a few tiers of flourless chocolate cake. I accidentally used semi-sweet instead of bitter-sweet chocolate which I realized after melting the chocolate and noticing it was the wrong shade of brown. Oh well, I hoped it would taste ok. I was more concerned with technique so I didn't start over.
From here it was smooth sailing with no further mishaps.
I forgot to take pictures of preparing the joconde paste on the Silpat so I illustrated the following steps. I only made a half batch of the paste because many of the other bakers were saying that half was still more than enough. After mixing together the paste (very easy) I spread it in a thin layer over a Silpat baking mat as per the recipe instructions using a pastry scraper.
cake decorating tool I purchased on Amazon to create thin lines that looked like stripes. It was really easy to just drag it across the Silpat. I used the edge of the jelly roll sheet I was using as a guide to get the first set straight then followed the lines for subsequent passes.
Ice Sculpting" set by Wilton. It's meant to be used in a perpendicular position by putting a frosted cake on a lazy susan and spinning the cake around to create the pattern. So the little plastic shapes fell out a few times when I tried to tip it downwards to drag across the paste but eventually I got it to work.
pastry scraper I carefully made the batter as thin and even as possible. Once it was covered I baked it in the oven for just over 5 minutes.
Sur la Table for $2.50 that was a half inch wider than my ridiculously small cake ring I purchased on Amazon. After lining the ring with parchment I carefully placed a strip of the joconde along the inside that I'd trimmed with a straight edge and a sharp knife.
Next came the entremet, which is the yummy layers the imprime wraps around. I really wanted to make a mousse but honestly, it was getting late. I was nearing eight hours since I'd begun and I was tired so instead I whipped up a batch of rich and chewy chocolate glaze and layered it with the flourless chocolate cake tiers and additional tiers of joconde sponge made out of the leftovers from the imprime.
To fancy things up a bit I used the letter "C" from a set of alphabet cookie cutters to create the tiny arcs that made the scallop along the top edge.
By then it was midnight. I needed to clean the kitchen so I called it a night. put my project in a lidded container and placed it in the refrigerator.
Tyler Florence Kitchen Essentials shop in Mill Valley. Only thing left to see was what did it look like inside? Would it be a lopsided and crooked mess? The scent of the chocolate hung heavy in the air as I sliced the cake in half... The layers of flourless cake smeared a bit with the glaze but I think it created a "decadent" look. Wow. Challenge completed!
A HUGE THANK YOU to Astheroshe for a superb challenge and The Daring Kitchen for their great website, and to all of the other bakers. You all inspired me to really push myself and go for it. If you think this looks like fun you should apply to join The Daring Bakers by CLICKING HERE
As you can see below there were many very successful outcomes! Check out some of the other finished cakes made by the Daring Bakers on their blogs. The range of possible joconde designs is seemingly endless:
Click on the Image to Enlarge
First Row Left to Right:
1. Texas Farmer's Hot Stove
2. Pane, burro e marmellata!
3. You Made That?
4. Deliciously Domestic
Second Row Left to Right:
1. Ambitious Bubble
2. Testado, Provado & Aprovado
3. The Misanthropic Hostess
Third Row Left to Right:
1. Dishes From My Kitchen
2. A Little Handmade Lab
3. Within The Kitchen
4. Baking Rush
Fourth Row Left to Right:
1. That Skinny Chick Can Bake
2. A Little Less Vanilla
3. There's a Newf in My Soup!
Fifth Row Left to Right:
1. Crumbs of Love
2. A Tale of One Foodie's Culinary Adventures
3. Madeleine Cocina
I sent a request to each Daring Baker late last night so there wasn't time to hear back from everyone... Please, if you prefer not to be featured here just leave a comment or send me a message on DB to let me know and I'll remove your photo from the montage at once.
In the past I've learned how to make a decadent, flourless chocolate cake and lots of cookies so I would call myself a novice baker. As such, the most valuable tip I can share with you when it comes to baking is that it's science and precision is everything when it comes to success. Additionally:
- Use the correct tools and equipment whenever possible
- Be as exact as possible when measuring ingredients
- Don't substitute unless you're certain ingredients are interchangale
- Do your prep work and pre-measure all ingredients before beginning
- Baking requires attention to details and timing so don't multi task the first time you try out a new recipe
And if you want to try this at home:
Download the printable .pdf of the challenge HERE!
View More Challenges:
• February 2011: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies
• March 2011: Meringue Coffee Cakes
• April 2011: Edible Container and Maple Mousse