As a child, I never figured I would end up baking. Never, ever, ever even thought of that. I’d always figured my singular hobby would have been reading, and writing stories, something I’d always loved and still love. But here I am today, baking and making dessert almost every week…
I have no idea when I truly started baking…I suppose it was when my mom discovered that she loved warm brownies with ice cream. We’d stand by the counter in the afternoons, mixing together brownie mix, following the directions word by word, with my sister and I arguing over who got to stir the mixture. In the end, I would stir for a minute, and then my sister would take a turn, stirring over zealously for a minute. My mother would then pour the mixture into an aluminum lined baking pan, and leave it in the oven, and then my sister and I would jockey for the best view of the brownies, in the end, most of the time, I would win, and sit there watching the brownies like a hawk.
Finally when they were done, grab a carton of ice cream, three bowls, three spoons, the warm brownies, and eat away happily.
Then one day, I decided I was old enough to make them myself. I wandered into the kitchen and happily poured mixed and baked a bunch of brownies. They came out great, and I was soon dubbed the brownie maker of the family. From there on I baked only brownies. Why? I suppose it never occurred to me to bake anything else.
A couple years later, it finally did occur to me to bake something else. It was a couple of days before Christmas and I was sitting at my desk drooling at beautiful pictures of festive cookies and cakes, when I realized: You can bake. Why don’t you make these? Immediately I started flipping through pages of recipes looking for something my family would enjoy but wasn’t too complex, and well, I happened upon a recipe for blueberry muffins.
Immediately I wandered into the kitchen, and started mixing away. My sister wandered over and crinkled her brow, confused, “Brownies aren’t polka dotted.” She stated plainly.
I started to laugh and replied, “These aren’t brownies.” Now she looked even more perplexed. “They’re blueberry muffins!”
“Blueberry muffins?” She frowned even more, but stayed silent and wandered off. Mean while, I poured the batter into a buttered bread pan, since I didn’t have a muffin tin, and sat and waited for them to bake. When the blueberry loaf came out of the oven, perfect and golden I was probably the happiest girl in the world. It was excellent, soft and buttery, with the fruity flavor of the blue berry dancing about. After that, my confidence escalated, and I started baking more and more. I now wanted to make my favorite dessert, Tiramisu. It took a couple of tries to perfect the recipe, but I got there. My next recipe? Flan. Then crème brulee, and the list seems to go on and on from there, to now, where I bake a various different recipes almost every week. It strange, how my love for baking was born from a box of brownie mix…
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.
I think this is probably my most favorite challenge so far. It allowed so much freedom, and was amazing. My Entremet filling was strawberry and vanilla bavarian layered upon each other, to create a light, creamy and delicious strawberries and cream like filling, which I’ve loved as a child. Even though the sponge didn’t come out perfect, it was still delicious. I’m definitely making another variation of this, and fixing my mistakes.
There were way too many air bubbles when I piped the design which lead to a very holey design.
I need to use almond flour that don’t have the almond skins in them, since it adds a speckled look to the Jocode Imprime.
Putting in the vanilla bavarian too late, when it started to gellify.
Using such big mold for this
But over all it was pretty great :) I like this very much and will make it again.
NOTE: The recipes for the Joconde Sponge and paste are full size, I only used a quarter of the Joconde Decor Paste, and the whole recipe for the sponge. It all depends how you mold this dessert and what exactly you do…(but trust me, you won’t need more than a quarter of the Joconde decor paste). Also considering I made a pretty large dessert, some of this can be halved depending on how much you want. My entrement/impreme was made in a 9×3 circular spring for pan. Also, If you don’t like either of these fillings, you can replace it withanything else you want that has a stable enough consistency. Chocolate mousse, tiramisu cream, cake, cookies if you like…it goes on and on. Also if you do decide to switch things up, do not attempt to variate a recipe that has gelatin in it by adding a tropical fruit(such as kiwi or pineapple) to it. There are enzymes in those fruits that prevent the gelatin from setting up.
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
- ¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- ¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
- 3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
- 3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g
- 2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
- 2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted
*Note: How to make cake flour: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/09/how-to-make-cake-flour/
1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2.Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4.Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in melted butter.
6. Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
- 14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- 7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g
- 1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
- Food coloring gel, paste or liquid
COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.
1.Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:
1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
Adapted slightly from All Recipes
- 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- In a big bowl add together the strawberries, sugar and lemon zest, and let it sit there for twenty minutes.
- In a very small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water and let it sit for a minute. Then turn the stove on and heat it until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice and pour the whole thing into the strawberry mixture, and stir the whole thing until it’s cooled
- Whip the whipped cream till thick and stiff, and fold it into the strawberry mixture gently. If it seems too thinly textured for a bavarian, then leave it in the refridgerator for approx. six minutes and check continuously until it does thicken. Pour immediately into yourJoconde Imprime.
Adapted Slightly From Tartelette
- 8 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean (or Two and half tablespoons extract)
- 2 tablespoons powdered gelatin, sprinkled over 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Whisk the eggs and sugar until the become much paler than they were before.
- In a large sauce pan with the heat on low, bring the milk and vanilla bean(split and scraped) or vanilla extract to a boil. Take off the stove and pour slowly over the egg yolks whisking constantly.
- Then pour it back into the sauce pan and cook on low until the cream coats the back of the spoon you are stirring with. If you have a vanilla bean, remove it. Turn off the heat, and add the gelatin until it’s completely melted then let it cool to room temperature.
- As soon as you add the whipping cream, you have to use it immediately!
Assembling the Dessert:
1. Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
2. A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.
3. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
4. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
5. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.
6. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
7. The mold is done, and ready to fill.
8. Now, choose which ever filling you would like to put on the bottom layer then make that first and fill it up. (I reccomend the vanilla bavarian). Then make the second filling and pour it over.
9. You are done! Now simply remove all the wrappings and such, and enjoy :)