Last week I made a Génoise, the classic ethereal cake that is the perfect base for so many desserts. It is a cake just begging to be flavored with a syrup. If left all alone it can be a bit on the dry side. In fact, it is also known as a sponge cake, because it soaks up the flavors you add and holds them perfectly. The trick is knowing how to add the flavors so the cake is moist but not soggy. I decided to go with a simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, I layered the whole thing with milk chocolate mousse, enrobed it in a cinnamon buttercream and covered it in rolled fondant for my much hyped blog-iversary cake. Here’s how I made the cake and all its layers. Next I will decorate it, I promise!:
Some equipment you will need:
8 inch Cake Ring Stainless Steel 8″ diam. 3″ deep or an 8 inch spring form pan without the bottom
clear acetate band and tape (or you can use wax paper around the inside of the mold. This will allow you to lift the mold away from the cake, but is not as clean as the acetate strips.)
Stand Mixers or hand held mixer
To assemble the cake you will also need:
cinnamon simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
In a small sauce pan bring the sugar, water and cinnamon stick to a boil. Allow to cook until all of the sugar has dissolved. Cool and set aside.
1 recipe génoise
I made a single recipe in two 8-inch pans and then split them in half as I did with this carrot cake.
1 recipe cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
To make the buttercream stir together the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to form a double boiler. Stir the egg mixture with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape all of the sugar off the sides of the bowl. Cook until all of the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is smooth when felt between your fingers. No grains of sugar should be felt!
Remove from the double boiler and place bowl on stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on high until the meringue is fluffy, shiny and cools to room temperature. Turn down the mixer to medium-low speed and add the butter a 1/2 stick at a time. There will be a point when the buttercream looks like lumpy soup and you may think it is ruined. Have no fear, just keep adding the butter and in the end it will come together and be glossy and beautiful. Once all of the butter is added, put in the vanilla and cinnamon. Mix on low for 2 minutes. (you can freeze any leftovers).
Prepare the mold with the cardboard round and the acetate or wax paper, set aside on a sheet tray.
Milk Chocolate Mousse by Sherry Yard from The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts
10 ounces high quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3 large eggs, separated
pinch (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cognac
To make the ganache, heat the cream and corn syrup in a small pot on low heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate in a large bowl. Shake the bowl so that the chocolate is totally submerged, let sit for about 3 minutes.
Stir the ganache gently until smooth and no lumps.
Whisk the 3 egg yolks together in a small bowl and then add them into the warm ganache.
Stir to combine then set bowl aside.
In a clean mixing bowl beat the 3 egg whites on medium speed until frothy, add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until they reach the soft peak stage, about a minute. Then slowly add the sugar and
whip until the whites reach medium peaks, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the whites to the ganache in 3 additions. Folding them gently in.
Don’t worry if there are still streaks of white through the ganache. You want to err on the side of folding too little. You still have to add the cream so the whites will be well incorporated by the end.
In the same bowl whip the cream for about 2 minutes on medium speed until it reaches medium peaks.
Fold the cream into the ganache mixture in 3 additions.
Now the mousse is ready to be layered into the génoise.
Place a single layer of your cut génoise in the ring mold. With a clean pastry brush pat the surface of the cake with the simple syrup. You want the syrup to soak into the cake layer, but not so much that it is soggy.
Add 1/3 of the Milk Chocolate Mousse and
spread it evenly right to the sides of the mold. Repeat this with the rest of the layers. As you can see in the picture I ended up adding another layer of acetate so that the cake would be well protected on the sides. Finish with a layer of génoise and soak with the simple syrup. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight so the mousse can set.
Unwrap the cake and peel off the acetate to reveal the lovely layers of set mousse.
Put about a cup of buttercream on the top of the cake and spread it evenly, so that it is nice and flat, don’t worry about smooth yet.
The top should come over the sides just a bit, then put buttercream on the side of the cake all the way around. Just apply it in big globs, yes globs. In other words don’t worry about smoothing it out, you just want all of the cake covered.
Now that the whole thing is covered you can start to smooth out the sides. Hold the metal spatula straight up and down, but at a slight angle away from the cake. (see the shadow behind the spatula, it is because it isn’t pressed flat to the cake.) Turn the cake stand and leave the spatula steady. Using almost no pressure your spatula will begin to smooth the buttercream.
Once the sides are as smooth and straight as you want, then you do the top. Again your spatula isn’t flat against the cake but at a slight angle as you see above.
Voila! You are now ready to decorate the cake, which I will do in my next post! Thanks for tuning in and watching me go through this process of making a cake from beginning to end. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do!
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