génoise & crème au beurre…
class #15! génoise & crème au beurre…which really is layered cake and buttercream. yes, buttercream.
first, génoise. it’s a whipped egg cake that’s the base of many cakes and can be flavored in a variety of ways. egg and sugar are mixed over a double boiler (don’t cook your eggs), then into the mixer on high speed until it triples in volume, or beating air into it so it’s fluffy. after that you gently fold in the flour without deflating the structure you’ve created and add in a little bit of melted butter. cake is baked immediately and taken out of the mold immediately too:
to put the cake together it was time to make the crème au beurre, either in the italian style or pâté à bombe. what’s the difference? well, i’m glad you asked. pâté à bombe base is egg yolks and sugar (like making a mousse), which makes a much denser cream but will also melt faster because of the fat in the egg yolks. in the italian style, the egg white is your base, which you whip with sugar until soft peak, and then add your cooked sugar-water mixture at the softball stage.
sorry for the blurriness of the photo, but can you see the ball that’s between my fingers? it’s one of the many stages of sugar. it’s a good way to test the various stages when you don’t have a thermometer. basically you start cooking your sugar and test it by taking a bit out with a metal spoon and dipping it in ice water, and see what shape you can make with it. cool, right? the cooked sugar-water provides additional stability to your meringue and a bright shine.
once the mixture has cooled down to room temperature you start adding a crap load of butter. really, a crap load. the buttercream mixture will first appear to be curdling but then if you just keep mixing on high speed, it’ll all come together. can also be kept in the fridge for up to a week or longer in the freezer. when it all comes together you can flavor it which ever you want…with melted chocolate, cooked down fruit puree…you name it. just make sure that what you add isn’t too liquid or you’ll break the structure. i flavored mine with coffee. yum! i love anything coffee flavored.
finally it’s time to put it together. first, prep your piping bag with the buttercream. then it’s time to cut the cake in layers…which is NOT easy; will need to practice more in the future to cut my layers more evenly. then make a batch of simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water, and can be flavored as well). the cake is dry in nature, which provides the flexibility in flavors, but it’s important to moisten the cake with syrup on the layers. so, 1) cute the layers; 2) starting at the bottom, brush your cake with simple syrup; 3) pipe buttercream; and 4) repeat.
then it was on to icing the cake, which i’ve never done and very good to learn. if you’re good, an offset spatula is all you need. but since it’s my first, i used several tools to help me make something as close to perfect as possible. basically, i piped buttercream all over. then used the straight side of a dough scraper to smooth the sides while rotating my cake stand. then an offset spatula to evenly spread the top. okay and you know how the cake you see in stores have this shine to it and flatten icing? to achieve that, dip you spatula in hot water, wipe, and smooth your buttercream. the heat from the spatula sort of melt the butter in the buttercream and give that clean surface. i obviously need lots-o-practice…
then it was on to some piping practice. another not so simple thing to do. *sigh* we were taught very simple ways last time for the charlotte cécile but more practice today for this cake. here’s my practice sheet…and can i say this more? need more practice… and no, the center blob isn’t me piping, it was when i was cleaning out my piping bag…
so ready or not…it was time to decorate the cake that has been cooling in the fridge. here’s the finish product and what it looks like inside:
here’s the thing. i’m not a fan of buttercream. it’s just, hm, too sweet for me? so i was very conservative with the buttercream in the middle. the cake turned out good but i can really use more moisture with the cake. i want to find a way to do it with more cream and less sugar, without it becoming those chinese bakery birthday cakes that i love so much with lightly sweetened whipped cream. HAHAHA. i’m pretty determined at this point to make few tiny alterations and just make birthday cake for everyone in the family. more time, but definitely cheaper than purchasing and i can make it to the birthday person’s liking and flavor. hehe. overall, good lesson and great cake to learn.