In pastry school, some days are good, and some days aren’t so good.
Saturday was a good day because I discovered that I’ve been over-whisking my Italian meringues. Talk about revelation. Prior to Saturday, I whisked each batch, like mad, until it had cooled to room temperature. It turns out that I should have been whisking the meringue until it had cooled (not necessarily completely cooled if the room is hot) but more importantly just until the meringue is firm and set. If you whisk past that point, you risk deflating it, like I’ve been doing.
I also seem to have developed the habit of standing on my tippy toes when I whisk with my giant balloon whisk, as one chef pointed out. Why? Maybe extra height will give me more power! I’m still working on fixing that one, and of course, practicing Italian meringue. In any case, Saturday, I felt like I accomplished something. Saturday was a good day.
In the last week, I’ve been focusing on practicing génoise cakes. The génoise cake is another balloon-whisk recipe that I’m working on getting just right. The eggs and sugar are whisked over a double-boiler to 55°C (while standing on my tippy toes), then whisked off the heat back to room temperature (more tippy toes) at which point the mixture is a very creamy light yellow and ribbony. Finally, you carefully but quickly fold in the flour (and cocoa if using), and the melted butter. If you fold too much, your mixture will deflate and you risk making a rock-hard cake. If you don’t fold the mixture enough, you end up with a cake with little flour rocks randomly dispersed throughout. There’s a fine line between too mixed, and not mixed enough.
Today wasn’t great. I made my 7th and 8th génoise of the month and they were domed and cracked on top and looked like the moon when sliced open because they both had crater holes in them, kind of like swiss cheese. It was embarrassing how they looked. I was ashamed to pull them out of the oven considering how much I’ve been practicing. I guess I need to practice even more…
Tomorrow is another day, and therefore another opportunity to hopefully understand and master the génoise. I will just keep making them until I get it right, and then I will make a few more to be sure I really know what I’m doing. Here’s hoping hard work and positivity will pay off!
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a basic recipe for a black forest cake. You can obviously make it with a chocolate génoise sliced into three even layers (like I did in school), or you can use your favorite chocolate cake for the layers.
Black forest cake
For the whipped cream
- 600 mL whipping cream
- 60 mL icing sugar sifted
- 1 –2 tsp vanilla extract
For the soaking syrup
- 200 grams granulated sugar
- 200 mL water
- 30 mL kirsch
- 1 6- inch chocolate cake sliced into three even layers
- 150 grams drained boozy cherries like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000126ZTC/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=kitch02-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B000126ZTC" rel="nofollow">these</a>
- 300 grams chocolate shavings
For the whipped cream
In a large bowl with a balloon whisk (or in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the icing sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping to firm peaks. Set aside in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
For the soaking syrup
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup comes just to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
When the syrup has cooled, add the kirsch to flavor it. Set aside.
To assemble the cake
Place the first layer of cake on a cake board (or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0016BPTSU?ie=UTF8&tag=kitch02-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B0016BPTSU" rel="nofollow">rotating cake stand</a>) and brush generously with the soaking syrup (if working with a génoise cake, brush on enough syrup that when you press on the cake, the syrup comes up).
Top with a layer of whipped cream and a third of the cherries. Press the cherries in place lightly, then spread another thin layer of whipped cream over top to lock them in place.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 with the the second layer of cake.
Top the cake with the third layer, brushing it with syrup and topping it with a thin layer of whipped cream.
Spread whipped cream on the sides of the cake and smooth the surface.
Press chocolate shavings all over the sides.
Top the cake with more chocolate shavings and pipe on a few decorative rosettes with a star tip. Place a cherry in the middle of each rosette.
Sprinkle the cake with a little cocoa powder and icing sugar before serving.