Pastry school week 21 was all about cakes. We made four of them. I arrived back in London Tuesday morning at the start of the school week after an amazing weekend in Charleston; visiting with college friends, family and the wedding celebrations of one of my dearest friends from high school. I even got a night in Atlanta on the way back to see family. It was such an incredible (albeit quick) weekend in the States so coming back to a week filled with cakes, which I love all kinds of, helped get me through the post-weekend blues. 😉
Tuesday: Gâteau Fraisier
A Gâteau Fraisier is a cake made up of crème mousseline, genoise sponge and fresh strawberries. The cake is topped with marzipan and a cutout design filled with strawberry jelly. The ladies in my class made an extra genoise sponge for me since I came straight from the airport and arrive a little late. This was a really tasty cake and will be even nicer to make in a few months when British strawberries are in season.
In the afternoon, we continued to work on recipe development for our menu planning project. Tom & Brian worked on a fried chicken recipe they wanted to try and I played around with mini-grilled peach cobblers.
Wednesday: Mozart Cake
Wednesday we made a Mozart cake which was created as a tribute to the Austrian composer. The cake is layered with cinnamon pastry discs that are made with sieved hard-boiled eggs, a common ingredient of Austrian pastry chefs. The egg yolks give the pastry a crumbly texture, as well as make the pastry frustratingly fragile to work with. In between the cinnamon pastry disc layers were cooked apples and chocolate mousse. My only pastry disc that didn’t crack was the top layer, although, I guess that’s the most important one. 😉 The finished cake is dusted with cocoa powder, decorated with thinly sliced apples and cinnamon sticks and garnished on the outside with shaved chocolate.
Thursday: Gâteau Opera
Thursday was classical French as we made an Opera cake. There are a variety of rumors as to the official origins of the Gâteau Opera but the most famous version (and perhaps real creator) was made in 1955 by French pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon from Dalloyau, an iconic Parisian patisserie dating back to the courts of Versailles. Gavillon invented the Opera cake, in honor of the child ballet students of the Opera. It inspired great changes within the French pastry world as a departure from the traditional round cake. There are also rumors that the cake is so heavily soaked with coffee to keep the audience awake during the final acts.
The Opera cake is made with a joconde sponge, which is an almond sponge. There are 10 steps to building an Opera starting with melted chocolate on the base. Each layer is heavily soaked with a coffee syrup and alternates with a coffee buttercream layer and a chocolate ganache layer in the middle. The cake is then finished off with a chocolate glaze and completed by writing ‘Opera’ on the top. Despite not being the hugest fan of coffee flavoring, this cake was delicious. Even better so the next day with my lunch!
Friday: Chocolate & Battenberg Cake
Friday morning, we worked on our chocolate skills helping out one of the other chefs in the college making chocolates for an Easter event coming up. We made salted caramel and Bailey’s chocolates and took our first try at chocolate ribbons.
The afternoon in the bakery was spent making a Battenberg cake. This checkered cake was supposedly named in honor of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter and her marriage to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. Jennie and I stuck to the traditional colors of the Battenberg and went with pink and yellow for our sponges. In between the sponges is a layer of apricot jam. The cake is typically wrapped in marzipan, but we decided to go with royal icing, as we wanted white and neither one of us loves marzipan. Ha! We created the sunflower toppers using marzipan. It’s tough to pick a favorite cake from the week, but I think the Battenberg or Opera were the two front runners.