I have no excuse. I simply don’t. Sure I was a bit busy, sure I had family over for a visit but the plain truth was I let myself be distracted so much that to sit down and write a post was quite a challenge. I don’t think I can define this as blog “block”, I have a ton of ideas running through my head, but just the thought of putting them together to form delicious prose during sweeps month on TV (the month where shows put on their best episodes) was indeed no contest. Yes, I watch too much TV. I could probably produce 3 posts a week if I just turned the idiot box off, but what can I say, I follow way too many programs.
That does not mean I had not been baking or cooking. In fact, the kitchen’s been humming and I’ve been worse in my obsessions. I’ve been testing recipes one or several ways. I have spied several must-try recipes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s new book “Rose Heavenly Cakes.” I’ve been researching different fillings, cake textures and frostings – trying to figure out ways to reduce sweetness without sacrificing moistness in cakes and “standability” in frostings and fillings. When my sister-in-law was here we talked shop (she has taken over the reins of our family restaurant/ bakeshop) and about how American cakes seem to be too sweet (particularly fillings and frostings) and wondered if I developed one that wasn’t, if it would sell at all. We also discussed my niece’s wedding. Three hundred guests are expected, three hundred cupcakes for giveaway and a full blown dessert table to be planned that would include macarons hopefully. Fun! Specially since my sister-in-law has an army of bakers working for her, all she and I have to do is to prototype and delegate. Now is that not a dream job? Anyway, the event is going to be in the Philippines so I guess I can say Petites Bouchees will be going International!
Anyway, this is a long recipe so I’ll keep my ramblings short. The genoise tasted a bit starchy – as if the cornstarch had not properly dissolved. I imagine the results would have been better if I had used Wondra flour. I made the genoise twice. Once with cake flour-cornstarch, the second with all-purpose flour-cornstarch. The cake flour version’s crumb was more fine than the all-purpose one but tastewise, was relatively the same.
I noticed a mistake I had made as I was typing out the recipe. I melted 3 tablespoons of butter for the clarified butter, the instructions meant to melt 4 tablespoons of butter and then take 3 tablespoons from the resulting clarified butter or buerre noisette. I do not think this would have changed the taste of the genoise too drastically though.
The passion fruit curd tasted very good, however, I thought the passion fruit syrup was overkill and made the whole cake too sweet and too “passion fruity”. I imagined a simple syrup mixed with rum would have balanced the curd better. My favorite part was making the White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting and it complemented the flavor of passion fruit so well. More involved than regular Cream Cheese Frosting stiffened with powdered sugar, it does need to be refrigerated however it makes up for it by being silky and luxurious on the palate and not too sweet!
White Gold Passion Genoise
Clarified butter, preferably buerre noisette 3 tablespoons / 37 grams
Pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
large eggs 4 / 200 grams
superfine sugar 1/2 cup /100 grams
Wondra flour (see substitutions *) 3/4 cup /100 grams
Equipment: 9×2 baking pan, coated with baking spray with flour, then topped with parchment round.
Preheat oven to 350F/175C
Prepare the butter.In a medium microwavable bowl, or a saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter until almost hot (110 to 120F/40 to 50C). Stir in the vanilla, cover and keep warm.
Beat the eggs. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using a long-handled wire whisk, lightly combine the eggs and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat just until lukewarm to the touch, stirring constantly with the whisk to prevent curdling. Attach the whisk beater. Beat the mixture on high speed for a minimum of 5 minutes. The mixture will more than quadruple in volume and be very thick and airy. ( A handheld mixer will take at least 10 minutes.)
Make the batter. Remove almost 1 cup of the beaten egg mixture and whisk it thoroughly into the melted butter.
Dust about half the flour over the remaining egg mixture (sift if using the flour mixture below) and, with a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or silicon spatula, fold in gently but rapidly until almost all the flour has disappeared. Repeat with the remaining flour until all traces of flour have disappeared.
Fold in the butter mixture just until incorporated. With a silicone spatula, reach into the bottom of the bowl to be sure to moisten all the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula. If you have beaten it logn enough, it will be about half full if using Wondra flour ( a little more than half full – 3/4 inch from the top of the pan – if using the flour mixture).
Bake the cake. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown. This is a fragile cake so avoid opening the door of the open before the minimum baking time.
To prevent collapse of the delicate foam structure, unmold immediately after baking.
Unmold and cool the cake. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto one of the preapred wire racks. Leaving the parchment in place, immediately reinvert the cake onto the second rack so that the firm upper crust keeps it from sinking. Cool completely. It will be about 2 inches high.
To clarify butter, heat 4 tablespoons/2 ounces/57 grams in a small heavy saucepan on very low heat. Cook uncovered, watching carefully to prevent burning. Move away any foam on the surface to check the progress. For plain clarified butter, when the liquid on top is clear and the white solids are resting on the bottom, remove it from the heat. To make buerre noisette, keep cooking the butter until the milk solids beome a deep brown. For either method, immediately pour the butter through a fine-mesh strainer, or a strainer lined with cheesecloth, into a heatproof cup.
Wondra flour is easiest to integrate into the batter and results in the most tender texture. You can substitute a combination of 1/2 cup/50 grams cake flour (or 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon/50 grams all-purpose-flour), sifted into the cup and leveled off, and 1/2 cup minutes 1 tablespoon/50 grams cornstarch. Sift the flour and cornstarch together before sifting over the egg mixture.
Classic Passion curd
about 3 large egg yolks 3 1/2 tablespoons/ 56 grams
sugar 1/2 cup/ 100 grams
unsalted butter , room temperature 3 tablespoons 42 grams
fresh or frozen passion fruit puree 1/2 cup / 100 grams
Make the classic passion fruit curd. Prepare a fine mesh sieve suspended over a medium bowl.
In a heavy saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and butter until well blended. Whisk in 5 tablespoons of the passion puree and the salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats the spatula, but is still liquid enough to pour. The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to have a rich golden color on the spatula. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, briefly remove the pan from the heat, stirring constantly to keep the mixture from boiling. When the curd has thickened and will pool thickly when a little is dropped on its surface, pour it at once into the strainer and press it through with the spatula. Gently stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of passion puree and allow the curd to cool for 30 minutes. Cover tightly and refrigerate until no longer warm, about 3 hours. The passion curd keeps in an airtight jar or container for 3 weeks, refrigerated. (Longer storage dulls the fresh, vibrant flavor)
Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 Tahitian Vanilla or 1 Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean ( or vanilla extract) (1/2 teaspoon)
sugar 3/4 cup / 150 grams
fresh or frozen passion puree 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons, divided / 136 grams
Make the passion fruit syrup. With a small knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half.
In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, place the sugar. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar and rub them in with your fingers. Add the vanilla pod to the pan. Stir in 1/2 cup of the passion puree until all the sugar is moistened. (If using “Perfect Puree” concentrate, use only 5 tablespoons and dilute with 5 tablespoons of water.) Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cover it at once and remove it from the heat. Cool completely. Transfer it to a measuring cup with a spout and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the passion puree. If the syrup has evaporated slightly, add water to equal 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Remove the vanilla pod just before applying the syrup. If not using the vanilla bean, stir in the vanilla extract.
White Chocolate Deluxe Buttercream
Makes: 2 1/2 cups/ 14.5 ounces/413 grams
White chocolate Custard Base
Makes: 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 7.5 ounces/ 213 grams
white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped 3.5 ounces 100 grams
unsalted butter, room temperature 3 1/2 tablespoons / 50 grams
1 large egg, at room temperature 3 tablespoons / 50 grams
about 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 1 tablespoon / 18 grams
Make the white chocolate custard base. In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the white chocolate and the butter, stirring often until smooth and creamy. (Don’t let the bottom of the container touch the water.) Whisk the egg and yolk lightly to break up and then whisk them into the melted white chocolate mixture. Continue whisking and heating until an instant-read thermometer registers 140F/60C. The mixture will have thickened slightly. Remove it from the heat, transfer it to a bowl, and allow it to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It will take a minimum of 30 minutes. To speed cooling, cover and refrigerate. An instant read thermometer should register 65 to 70F / 19 to 21C.
Completed White Chocolate Deluxe Buttercream
Cream cheese, room temperature 6 ounces/ 170 grams
unsalted butter, room temperature 3.5 tablespoons / 50 grams
creme fraiche or sour cream 1/2 tablespoon / 7 grams
White Chocolate Custard base 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 213 grams
pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon
Complete the Buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy. Beat in the creme fraiche until very smooth.Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Gradually beat in the white chocolate custard base and vanilla. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth, light, and creamy.
Compose the Cake. Use a long serrated knife and your fingertips to remove the top crust. Remove the parchment and scrape off any remaining bottom crust. Wash and dry the knife and split the genoise in half horizontally.
Brush the syrup evenly on the tops and bottoms of the cake layers. The genoise is now more tender and fragile and needs to be supported by a removable pan bottom or cardboard round when moved.
Spread a little buttercream on a 9-inch cardboard round or a serving plate and set a layer on top. If using the plate, slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Sandwich the layers with about 3/4 cup /183 grams of the passion fruit curd. Spread it almost to the edges; the weight of the upper layer will push it out a little. Frost the top and sides of the cake with about 2 cups/ 300 grams of the buttercream. With a small metal spatula, make swirls in the top. Refrigerate about 1 hour to set the buttercream. Apply small dabs of any remaining passion curd and, with the metal spatula, swirl them into the buttercream. If using the paper strips, slowly slide them out from under the cake.