Monday, January 31, 2011


The January 2011 Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entrements dessert.

First reaction: A what?

Step 1: Find out what all that meant and try not to freak out about it.

Step 2: Look at the pictures posted and freak out.

Step 3: Try to read what is expected but still freaking out.

Step 4: Close the webpage and come back later to see if it looks less difficult at a second glance.

Step 5: After a few days, I looked again. I checked to see if anyone else had attempted it. Audax had. Caution: Audax appears capable of superhuman activity. How else can his preparation speed and skill be explained?

Step 6: Hey, that not so bad....Its a filled sponge cake. I can make sponge cake. I can make filling. I CAN do this!

Step 7: See people talking about their struggles.

Step 8: Plan the preparation. I decided it would be "easy". My plan was to create a layer of lemon mousse covered by a sponge cake layer and a layer of raspberry mousse.

Step 9: Buy ingredients that I think are needed.

Step 10: Changed my plan for filling from mousse (b/c I learned it traditionally contains raw eggs) to raspberry Bavarian Cream and Lemon Pana Cotta at the suggestion of Delphine. (Thanks, Delphine!)

Step 11: Find a recipe (with positive reviews) for pana cotta. Find a random recipe for Bavarian Cream. Recall that I have Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Raspberry Bavarian Cream is in there but its three pages long....I decided to go with the short "easy" version.

Step 12: Resolve design. Since I'm making it for lab birthday's for January, I decided to write Happy Birthday around the outside walls and put balloons between the two words. This proved to be a bit of a challenge. I started wondering if the letters needed to be backwards prior to making the mixture. I looked for a thin piece of paper. The most handy one was a gorcery receipt. I wrote the text normally, then flipped it as I would be later lifting the cake to see how the letters needed to be arranged. It turns out, that if you want to implement text it must be piped in a mirror image, that is, letters and words backwards. For the inner circles of sponge cake, I planned to pipe balloons.

Step 13: Execution: My friend Becky came over to help make the lab birthday cake. We made the patterned joconde paste first (the colored part). We divided the paste to create blue, red and purple mixtures. I have an icing piper but I only have two tips and neither was small enough for writing text. (Its a white piper with a cap and red capped plunger. The tips have a slight rim around the egde. If anyone out there knows where to find tips for it, please let me know.

Instead of a standard piping tool, we used ziploc sandwich bags with the corner clipped off of it. We lined the jellyroll pan with parchment paper and piperd our designs. Then we slid the jellyroll pans into the freezer. We tasted some of the remaining paste, ugh. It wasn't out thing. We hoped the cake tasted better than the paste.

Step 14: While the pattern froze, we prepared the sponge cake batter (joconde). It certainly smelled good.

Step 15: We pulled the the patterned jellyroll pan out of the freezer and poured the sponge cake around it and over it. Oy, it was a rather scant mixture. Though my jellyroll pan was smaller than specified by the recipe the sponge cake couldn't cover the whole surface. We spread it as best we could and popped it in the oven. We found the sponge cake took only 7 or 8 minutes in the oven, rather than the stated 15.

Step 16: Piping the round cakes: Since we now knew the yield of the sponge cake batter, we lined 2 cake pans which were 9 inches in diameter with parchment paper. We piped the joconde paste and decided to abandon the balloons for colorful dots. We popped the pans in the freezer and mixed the cake batter again. This round covered both cake pans well. :) After 7 minutes in the oven, the round sponge cakes were done too.

Step 17: After allowing the sponge cake to cool, Becky arranged the bread while I started the pana cotta. Oh no! We realized it was much runnier than anticipated. It would need some time to set up to prevent soaking through the cake. I placed it in the fridge and began the Bavarian cream.

Step 18: Tired. Frustrated. The Bavarian Cream didn't look right at all! It looked more like cottage cheese. Becky thought it tasted good but it wasn't redeemable. I needed to start over. Fortunately I didn't add the crushed raspberries to the mess. This time I went with Julia Child's recipe. Wow. Every detail was supplied. It might have taken her 3 pages but the recipe was flawless. When I finished with it, I had a grin as big as a pumpkin on my face. The Bavarian Cream was much thicker than the Pana Cotta, so once done, we were ready for assembly.

Step 19: Base of the cake: check

             Happy Birthday around the outside: check

             Layer of a half recipe of lemon pana cotta: check

             Round cake for the middle: check

             Bavarian cream: Check


Step 20: Cleaned what felt like the millionth of the dishes for the day and went to bed. I hoped as hard as I could that when I pulled the sides away from the springform that all would be solid rather than collapse before my eyes.

Step 21: I was definitely a little distracted with concern over the cake being a massive mess that morning. Concentrate!

Step 22: Super busy lab day in which my schedule changed and I had to go to a different campus to work for several hours. I started to get concerned about making it back to work to serve the cake!

Step 23: Made it back as one birthday person was about to clock out. Quick ...round everyone up for cake!

Step 24: Loosen the springform and holds! Whew.

Step 25: Slice after slice after slice. All are served.

Step 26: Reactions: I like the lemon best. I like the raspberry best. I like them both (least common). The texture is odd. I don't like it at all (but this person did manage to eat their part with no problem....hmmm.) Overall, it was very different from cakes we'd had in the past for birthdays. I can't say that it was a lab favorite but I can say that I liked it as something different. It was an awful lot of work though. Maybe using less time consuming filling would have been a good plan. I'm glad I tried it and I'm glad I can have confidence about making Bavarian cream and pana cotta and know how they're different!

Thanks for a great challenge.

Recipes follow:

Joconde Paste and Sponge: I used the mandatory recipe from The Daring Kitchen. I used hazelnut flour rather than almond flour.

Lemon Pana Cotta: I used this recipe from the food network. I only made the lemon part.

Bavarian Cream (this recipe resulted in a kitchen celebration, complete with singing, dancing, and huge smiles): I used Julia Child's from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Conveniently, it is reposted here. I cannot promise it has as much detail but it is complete with pictures and looks like it condenses all the needed information to one convenient location.

Bavarian Cream that failed and nearly caused tears: I would not recommend this recipe. It didn't work at all for me. 


  1. Haha, this post was fun to read. I like step 21. It is nice to try a new type of cake, even if it turns out it isn't your favorite. That's how I feel about cookies.

  2. Wow, this cake makes so much more sense now that I've seen it completed. I had no idea the Happy Birthday part went around the side of the cake. Great post!