Thursday, 27 January 2011

January 2011 Daring Bakers Challenge - Biscuit Joconde Imprime

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.

Oh my, a what?!

Joconde imprime /entremets: A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets/ formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect. This Joconde/spongecake requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. It over baked it will dry out and crack. Once cooled, the sponge may be cut into strips to line any shape ring mold. Entremets (French baking term)- an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold. Think Trifle in a mold vs. a glass bowl. A joconde imprime is the outside cake wrapper of the Entremets dessert.

After a short while spent eying up examples of this rather impressive looking dessert on the 'net, I was totally intimidated! But with the birthday of a special friend falling towards the end of the month, I had time to muster up courage, plan, and give it a crack. Having sussed out that Very Cute Hiroko-chan would generally plump for a chocolate cake given a choice, I decided to fill my entrement with chocolate and raspberry mousses. Armed with my shopping list I hit the shops, but there was not a raspberry to be found, frozen or fresh! Quick change of plan and I grabbed a large juicy iyo ama orange instead.

The joconde imprime was far easier than I'd anticipated. I chose a very simple design as I was so worried that I would mess it up, but everything went according to plan and I ended up wishing that I had been a little more adventurous! I did have a slight wobble when I thought that the baking tray I was working on wasn't going to fit in my freezer drawer (after I had piped out my batter), but a bit of juggling and I just managed to fit it in. :-)

So the joconde imprime turned out fine, next on to the entrement. I started of by making a biscuit base by smashing up a packet of choc chip cookies and mixing the crumbs with some melted butter, easy peasy. Lined the tin with my joconde imprime, however failed to realise that I cut it rather too tall before filling with my first mousse layer:

Orange mousse

zest and juice of one large orange
1 teaspoon gelatine/agar
50g caster sugar
150ml double cream
2 eggs, seperated

Heat the juice and zest in a small pan for one minute, add the gelatine/agar and stir until dissolved. In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, whisk together the cream, sugar, egg yolks and orange juice zest for about 10 minutes, until thick and foamy. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk until cool, then whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the orange custard. Pour into a bowl or mould and leave in the fridge to set.

It dawned on me that I was going to have to improvise another filling when, after the second layer was poured in, the entrement was still only half full:

Milk Chocolate Mousse

100g milk chocolate
70ml double cream
2 eggs, seperated

Melt the chocolate and beat in the egg yolks. In seperate bowls, whisk the egg whites and cream, then fold into the cooled chocolate mixture. Bour into a bowl or mould and leave to set. I wasn't sure if this would set, so I added a little agar to the chocolate mix while it was hot.

And even a third layer didn't reach the top:

Mocha Mousse

2 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
135ml milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon gelatine/agar
2 teaspoons instant coffee
50g dark chocolate
140ml double cream

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Heat the milk and vanilla almost to boiling point, whisk over the egg yolks and return to the pan and heat slowly until thickened (do not let it boil). Sprinkle in the gelatine/agar and stir it to dissolve before straining the custard to ensure it is smooth. Melt the chocolate and coffee together (dissolve the coffee in a tablespoon of hot water first) and whisk into the custard. When the custard has cooled, whip the cream and fold in. Pour into a bowl or mould and leave to set (pipe once the mousse is firm).

I was out of time and ingredients and, frankly, had had enough of washing mixing bowl after mixing bowl, so finished off by piping rosettes of the mocha mousse around the inner edge. Wouldn't you know it, the top layer failed to set properly and the rosettes ended up as flat splodges, not the look I was going for! And of course, the loose mousse meant that it really wasn't a pretty sight once it had been cut into. :-(

In spite of how it looked, this dessert was delicious. I'd never made a mousse before (why ever not?!) and I learned a lot from this challenge. To see what proper bakers produced this month, take a look at the Daring Bakers website - there are some real works of art there. A big, big thank you to our host Asheroshe, I am so happy that I didn't wimp out of your fabulous challenge!

Mandatory Items: Make the full biscuit joconde imprime, cut and fit into a dessert mold. Complete entremets.

Variations allowed: Use the recipe provided for the Joconde. I have baked it many times without problems. Use any fillings for your entremets. Use a mold. You can use store bought fillings, to save time, or make homemade. The real task here is making the joconde wrap properly in a beautiful molded dessert presentation.

Preparation time: This is difficult to guess at. This time will vary. 2 hours for the joconde?? Entremets portion will vary depending on your fillings.

Equipment required:

  • Silpat
  • ½ baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)
  • Mixer (optional)
  • Bowls
  • Knives
  • Offset spatula
  • Regular spatula
  • Pastry comb (optional)
  • Rulers
  • Spring form pan
  • Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to use as a mold for individual desserts)
  • Torte/entremets mold/Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)
  • Cling wrap
  • Parchment paper
  • Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional)

Joconde Sponge

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:


  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.
  3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
  5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
  6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
  7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)
Preparing the MOLD for entremets:

  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. Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.
  4. Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.

Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:

Video: MUST WATCH THIS. This is a very good demo of the joconde and filling the entremets:

  1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. The mold is done, and ready to fill.

*Note: If not ready to use. Lay cake kept whole or already cut into strips, on a flat surface, wrap in parchment and several layers of cling wrap and freeze.

Entremet- Filling Options:

It is nice to have a completed dessert so you can unmold and see the Joconde working. Fill with anything you desire. Layers of different flavors and textures! However, it needs to be something cold that will not fall apart when unmolded.

Mousses, pastry creams, Bavarian creams, cheesecakes, puddings, curds, jams, cookie bases, more cake (bake off the remaining sponge and cut to layer inside), nuts, Dacquoise, fresh fruit, chocolates, gelee.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Happy New Year!

And here are a few reasons why this New Year is so happy for me:

I have my very own copies of Stella's cook books! We were at her house for dinner on Christmas Day and she handed me a present from dear Minori-san, telling me that I had to open it straight away, and I quite literally jumped for joy as I tore back the paper :-D

We have added to our family! Bingo is a 7 month old toy poodle, and a new best friend for the kids. He is the biggest softie and is coping with our family very well! He loves the kotatsu...

What's not to like about a kotatsu? Oh, and our house is much warmer than it was last year, even though it is freezing outside! K sealed off all the draughts and you wouldn't believe the difference. Will I still be feeling warm in February? Dunno, but one thing that is making me especially happy at the moment is the fact that I now have our flights booked for a visit to the UK in March, so that alone is enough to help me get through the coldest months!

I am happy to see that the New Year decorations hang around much longer than the Christmas decorations did (they get taken down on Christmas Eve here, to make way for the New Year goodies).

2011 is the year of the rabbit. And M loves rabbits. Especially Miffy :-)

Here's to a very, very happy year! xxx