This Pave d’Amour or Cake of Love is truly a celebration cake made for all the highlights of life. It is one of those recipes that looks daunting but actually isn’t. It just requires a schedule and can be done over a number of days or even weeks as desired. While not as fast as some cakes, its complexity is what makes it so special. Since May and June are such celebration months, I’m reintroducing this cake as one of my all time favorites because I think everyone should know about it. Continue reading
Many years ago when I first became interested in pastry and baking, I found a book at the library introducing me to Viennese Tortes and pastries. I was fascinated by them to the point I copied the entire book for my personal use. This was ages before the internet and the book was no longer on the market. A version of this Viennese Walnut and Chocolate Sponge Cake was in the book.
As with some early Viennese Tortes, bread crumbs or cracker crumbs finely ground would be used in place of flour. Another rendering of this cake was in my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”. It did use cracker crumbs. However, for this version I wanted to use a sponge which would accept a brandy soaking syrup. The original recipe for the cake in my book used only the cake and a coffee buttercream. I expanded upon that idea for this cake.
The recipe for the Viennese Walnut and Chocolate sponge cake is based on Bo Friberg’s Hazelnut-Chocolate Sponge in his book, “Professional Pastry Chef”. This is one of my go to books if I am stumped by something. The sheer volume of information in charts and graphs is astounding. There have been several updates to the book. I have Volume 4 which is over 1,000 pages. I love this recipe because it doesn’t require beating the egg yolks and whites separately. It uses whole eggs that are warmed over a double boiler so they can reach maximum volume. It is easy and as far as I can see, foolproof as long as you fold the dry ingredients quickly and gently. Continue reading
L’Opéra Petit Fours, a combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, are very much a lesson in component parts. Many pastries consist of several recipes combined to make the whole. Rearranging which and how the component parts are combined, endless pastries can be made.
There are two types of petit fours – petit four glacé which are those covered in fondant and petit four sec which are small pastries that can be picked up. L’Opera Petit Fours belong to the petit four sec variety. At the shop, we made petit four sec as I consider them to be so much more flavorful and beautiful.
L’Opéra Petit Fours are also the best petit four I have ever tasted. As with much in food, that level cannot be achieved in a quickie recipe. But most of the component parts can be executed days ahead of time making the final assembly very easy and relatively fast to accomplish. I recently made 140 of these for a function where four additional petit fours were offered. These not only disappeared first, but they were also the most talked about. Continue reading
French buttercream is distinguished by the use of egg yolks as well as whites. A sugar syrup is used and it is flavored with vanilla or other flavors of your choice. The combination of egg yolks and egg whites will whip into a foam that does not need to be stabilized as do egg whites alone.
This buttercream is the last of the European buttercreams based on an emulsion. This is considered to be the most stable of all of them as it uses whole eggs and yolks not a meringue as do the Swiss and Italian. Although this is not as light as the Swiss and Italian, it is by no means heavy. We are talking degrees here. I think this buttercream has a richer, deeper taste due to the added richness of the yolks.
If you research this along with the other two you will find varying amounts of the eggs, yolks and whites (for the Swiss and Italian) along with varying amounts of sugar and butter. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive recipe as long as the proportions are correct. The French buttercream requires a hot sugar syrup as does the Italian. However, because whole eggs and yolks are being used, they do not need to be stabilized as do egg whites alone. Just beating them will obtain the desired effect.