Thursday, January 27, 2011

Something ugly this way comes.

My very first Daring Bakers' challenge: January 2011.  It works like this: the recipe and instructions are posted on the first of the month in a very exclusive/secret forum, the bakers dare to bake said challenge during the next 26 days, and then post their results on their own blogs on the 27th.  

The January 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro.  She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Jaconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.


My thoughts exactly.  Here's some background:
A jaconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entrements formed in ring molds.  A jaconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect.
Entremets is an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry cream in a mold, usually served cold. (Think triffle in a mold vs. a glass bowl.)
And. Yeah. Mine's not that pretty.

Here's how it starts--with jaconde pattern paste, mixed from powdered sugar and butter and egg whites, and colored and put into a pastry bag and piped into a pattern on parchment on the up-turned bottom of your jelly roll pan. This goes into the freezer for 15 minutes until it's hardened through.

And then you make a sponge that goes over top of the paste and into a very hot oven for a very short time.  It comes out looking like this:

Flipped over, it looks like this. Or, mine did. Yours might not be wrinkly like mine is, since I don't think it's supposed to be.

You then cut the finished jaconde to size, lining the edge of a bottomless mold.  See here:

After that I was on my own to figure out how to fill it.  So I made mousse: one with a pound of white chocolate and one with fresh blackberries and framboise.  And then I filled the jaconde with three layers of the two mousses--white chocolate in the middle and the berry on the bottom and top. I tried for a layer of the extra sponge in the middle, but it was so thin it didn't have much structural integrity. 

Lessons learned:

1) Go to Sur la Table and buy real baker's food coloring. The Betty Crocker stuff makes florescent stripes, and they're just not that appealing;

2) I guess I need to learn to make a mousse. It turns out I'm not a fan of mousse, so I've never bothered to perfect it...but mine ended up chunky and sad.  Even after the double-boiling and the delicate stirring and the chilling. Chunky. Sad.  (And so rich you couldn't eat it. And, dear readers, this is why I don't love a mousse.  Three cups of heavy cream, plus two eggs and two egg yolks = too heavy to bother eating.)

3) Plan for garnish. I finished the dessert after a frantic 4 hours in the kitchen (I think I used every mixing bowl I own) and had nothing to put on top of the ugly thing to distract the eye from the unappealing chunks in the mousse.  And, compared to the rest of the people who participate in Daring Bakers, I'm a serious amateur both in the baking arena and in the photographic styling.  Time to up my game.

Tune back in on February 27 for next month's challenge. Here's hoping it's prettier. Or at least less rich and therefore edible.


Julie said...

OMG!!!! I meant to ask you about the baking group last night....whoa, this is some serious stuff you're attempting.I've never heard of or seen such wonderfully beautiful, creative possibilities. Do you think Julia knew about this kind of stuff?? I think your first experience turned out remarkably well. Too bad about too rich! I can hardly wait to hear about Feb27! XO

Jene said...

I am pretty impressed with your first attempt. Yo are right about the correct food coloring-the difference is remarkable. I am of the same mindset on the mousse, just don't see it.

Good luck next month, I'd love to be the guinea pig trying all of your treats!

Mary said...

Wow, I'm sorry the flavors left much to be desired! I used a chocolate mousse in mine, but I didn't feel like it came out terribly heavy (seems like mousse is supposed to be a lighter dessert). But posh! I think your entremet turned out beautifully! I think you got the layers down perfectly and the joconde design is lovely. :)