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.

For this month’s challenge we were challenged to make a biscuit joconde imprime that would be cut and fit into a dessert mold for a completed entremets. Are you totally lost? Because I know I was! So let’s go over some vocabulary:

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 requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. If 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) is an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold.

For this challenge the joconde imprime would be the outside cake wrapper of the completed entremets dessert.

Once I got my brain wrapped around the vocabulary, I went into full-on panic mode. I was still recovering from a holiday baking overload, and this challenge was looking pretty out of my league. I seriously almost threw in the towel before I even began. I just didn’t think I had it in in me, but I didn’t really want to start off the new year skipping out on a challenge, so I let it sit for a few days and then reread the challenge. The more I went over the steps (and after watching a few videos of the process) it slowly started to look a bit less daunting.

I began scouring the internet looking for entremets that featured a decorated joconde sponge. For this challenge we were to decorate the joconde sponge using a provided décor paste recipe. I had my heart sent on a vegan version of this challenge and got really hung up on the fact that the décor paste recipe included so many egg whites. I really had no idea how to sub for the egg whites, and I was having no luck finding an already existing veganized décor paste recipe. Then I stumbled upon an image of a joconde sponge decorated with preserves. I got super excited and decided that even though it wasn’t sticking to the original challenge recipe it would still result in a decorated joconde, and I would be ok with that. I decided on raspberry preserves and bouncing off of that decided to go with a raspberry/lemon cheesecake type entremets. There were a number of vegan joconde recipes on the internet thanks to when the Daring Bakers took on Opera Cakes.

From what I could find, in order to decorate the sponge with preserves one would just pipe the preserves into a pattern on top of the sponge batter and then bake. Simple enough. Only problem was that while the sponge was baking the preserves started to sink into the batter, resulting in less than clean lines. I really did love the flavor of the preserves in the sponge, so I am curious if anyone out there knows of a better way to decorate sponge in this manner. It is definitely something I would like to master.

To assemble the entremets I had to build a make-shift mold out of a cardboard cereal box. It actually worked surprisingly well, although I lined the inside with parchment paper and the moisture from the entremets filling made it get all wrinkly (can you tell I really wanted some pristine lines and smooth edges for this thing?). For the base I used leftover joconde sponge and layered that with some more raspberry preserves. I topped the preserves with a layer of the lemon filling along with some fresh raspberries. Then threw in another layer of joconde sponge with preserves and the rest of filling. Topped it all off with some fresh raspberries and powdered sugar and voila – a super impressive looking dessert!

Despite it’s less than perfect appearance, I did really love this dessert. And in the end, it was not all that hard to put together. In fact, because I had leftover filling, and I was feeling guilty about not veganizing the décor paste, I made another quick one the next day!

I had read someone mention decorating the joconde sponge by tinting a portion of the joconde batter and piping that onto the bottom of their baking pan and freezing. They then poured the un-tinted batter over the frozen tinted batter and placed the pan back in the freezer before baking. I tried this approach by tinting my batter with cocoa powder, and it actually seemed to work. I did two different designs and unfortunately totally broke the joconde with the cool pattern on it. Thus, I was left with my failed homemade pastry comb attempt, which really didn’t have much of a pattern.

Since I used cocoa for the joconde I decided to add a few tablespoons of chocolate chips to about 3/4 of the leftover lemon filling and then added some raspberry preserves to the leftover 1/4 of the filling. I layered those in the mold and then topped with more preserves, some toasted almonds, and chocolate chips.

And just to show you the other sponge that broke:

You can view the recipes and how to assemble the dessert after the jump. Please bear in mind that a lot of this was experimentation and could certainly use more tinkering to get the decorated joconde just right.

Prepare Your Mold(s)

You can use a spring form pan ring, biscuit/cookie cutter, pvc pipe, trifle dish, or do like I did and create a mold using some flexible cardboard.

For a spring form pan
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.

For a biscuit/cookie cutter
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.

For mine, I just placed some parchment paper on my final serving plate and placed my mold on top of that and that seemed to work ok.

Vegan Joconde
from Vegan Visitor

1 Cup Ground Almonds
1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1/2 Cup Cake Flour
1 1/4 Cups Soy Milk [I used rice milk]
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Vinegar

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Line a 5 x 8 inch loaf pan with parchment then lightly spray with oil.

Add the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.

Combine the soy milk and the vinegar, then add to the dry. Mix vigorously with a fork. Once combined, consistency will be similar to a pancake batter.

[*If you are going to try tinting the batter scoop out about 1/2-1 cup of batter and tint with desired color or cocoa powder. Pipe your design onto the bottom of the prepared pan and freeze for about 30 minutes]

Pour about 1/2 cup of batter into the prepared pan (or enough) to cover the bottom of the pan to the edges.

[*Place this in the freezer for another 20 minutes]

Bake for 5 – 7 minutes or until the top appears golden, begins to dry and the edges come away from the sides.
[*Adjust time as necessary if coming straight from the freezer]

Loosen edges with a knife, if necessary, and top with an additional sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Flip pan to remove the cake. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Cool cakes on a rack to room temperature.

Reline the pan and repeat with the remainder of the batter, baking three cakes. [*This may vary depending on how much you scoop out to tint.]

Prepare joconde for molding
Trim the cakes of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

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.

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.)

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. You can use more than one piece to “wrap” your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.

The mold is done, and ready to fill.

Lemon Teasecake Filling
from Vegalicious

1/2 c. uncooked millet
2 c. water
1/2 c. raw cashews
1/3 c. lemon juice
1/3 c. agave or maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract

Rinse millet in a fine strainer under cold running water. Place millet and water in a small pot and bring to a boil.

Once the millet is boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and cook with the lid on until the liquid is absorbed, this will be 30-45 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, puree the cashew nuts, lemon juice, maple syrup and vanilla. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until all ingredients are blended together and have a creamy consistency.

When the millet is done, add it to the cashew mixture and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until very creamy.

Sample the mixture and adjust according to your taste. (You may want to add additional sweetener.)

Allow the millet mixture to slightly cool.

Pour mixture into your joconde lined mold and allow to sit for 30 min at room temperature.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

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