Monday, January 26, 2009

Madame Butterfly

Sometimes a nice cake comes together without a lot of effort. It reminds me of those times when you can pull together a great outfit from bits and pieces lying around your wardrobe. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does it brings a smile to your face.

For this weekend’s metamorphosis in patisserie, all I had to do was make a fresh batch of crème mousseline. And the rest of the creation came together from bits and pieces I had stowed away in my pantry or freezer.

For technique, the composition of this cake took inspiration from the Fraisier, using an exposed border of fruit and crème mousseline between two layers of imbibed vanilla genoise. Since I had canned peaches and frozen raspberries available, and I love this taste combination, I decided to put them to use. I created a gellified raspberry coulis filling, topped it with drained peach halves, using some of the peach syrup to imbibe the cake layers.

The remaining peaches were sliced into wedges and used for the decorative border, along with some spiral cake slices. These fun little spirals were made from some leftover strips of Joconde sponge cake and chocolate ganache, rolled together and then sliced into decorative rounds. It would have been perfect if they’d been just a little bit larger in diameter; still I loved the fun, swirly effect it provided as a border element. I can totally imagine playing further with this idea in future!

The garnish used consisted of a couple of sliced & fanned peach halves and the dried vanilla pod (from making the crème patissiere). Since I am still attracted by acetylene but torchless in my home kitchen, I decided not to make any Italian meringue as I could not have burnished the edges unless I used my oven broiler (and this would have destroyed the rest of the cake). I found a box of mini meringues in the pantry and used one of these to provide a simulate a small white flower and give some differing proportion. Then I added one nice, pistachio macaron as the final touch of color. I’d been experimenting with my macaron making technique earlier in the week (and finally got the results I was after…yea!)

The cake was a small glimpse of summer in the middle of winter. Despite being an impromptu composition, it looked pretty good even upon slicing with the miscellaneous layers of color coming into view. Taste was great…using branded canned peaches made a noticeable difference in taste vs unbranded, and having real vanilla pod in the crème provided a much more authentic flavor to the mousseline than we’d achieved in the Fraisier practical. Of course, if I could have used fresh, in-season fruit this one would only taste better. Better hold that thought until July. Anyway, it delivered a small slice of sunshine that was well worth the practice session.

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