Jan 23, 2011

Genoise Très Café

I won't even try to pretend that I'm the one who did the beautiful piping on this cake.

Once again, the fearless Minnesota Threesome baked together, and Hanaâ the Magnificent is responsible for the piping. She also patiently gave me an introductory lesson in cake decorating, which I resisted (to no avail).

Hanaâ, Woody, and I did a blind chocolate taste test. Neither Hanaâ nor I had found 53% cacao chocolate (although when I was at Whole Foods the next day, I saw that they had bulk 53% chocolate). I provided Lindt 50% and Paul Newman 54%. Hanaâ brought a big brick of Cote d'Or, which she had bought at an airport in Europe.

We all preferred the Cote d'Or, even though it had the lowest percentage of cacao. It was smooth, yet had a bold chocolate taste. The Lindt was smooth, but a little too fruity, and the Paul Newman wasn't bad, but had an aftertaste.

After we chose our chocolate, we got to work on the genoise, which we could (almost) do without looking at the directions. After baking cakes for a year and a half, I have gotten very fond of a genoise. When I first started baking, my preference was definitely the butter cake. Every time I make a genoise, though, I see its virtues more clearly. Delicate, light, and moist, with a chameleon-like ability to take on other flavors, it is now perhaps my favorite cake.

As usual, I am amazed by the transformation of eggs to genoise batter:

I had made the beurre noisette ahead of time. I cooked the butter for a few minutes longer, hoping to get a nice, rich brown and not a burned mess.
Fortunately for me, I did; I think this is the best one I've made so far.

Just 20 minutes in the oven yields a lovely, golden layer.

I put myself in charge of syruping the cake and Hanaâ in charge of the whipped mocha. That's because all I had to do was cut the top off the cake. Hanaâ got the hard part.

I also got to fill out the testing form that Woody had brought for us. I couldn't find a ruler. Woody told me I should always have a ruler at my side when I'm baking. Jim was pretty sure he had a Ruler App. Luckily, I found a ruler before Jim could start talking about Apps.

Woody warned darkly that we had not allowed enough time to make the ganache. Hanaâ smiled sweetly and told him we could do the shortcut in no time. She briefly zapped the chocolate, and quickly cut it into small bits. She is no slouch with a knife.

Before you knew what was happening, she'd melted and cooled the chocolate, and whipped the cream--voila! light whipped mocha ganache.

We had a little discussion about who was going to frost the cake. Since Hanaâ no longer had the knife in her hand, I felt free to be stubborn and tell her there was no way I was going to do it when she was in the same room. I admired her skill, not to mention the results. She could have been a surgeon. Just as well she went in a different direction--she'd probably want to decorate people's midsections after doing appendectomies.

In no time at all, we were ready for tasting. Woody brought along another top secret cake. Since it's a secret, I will only say that it's over-the-top chocolate. Or, if you don't want to say it's over the top, you'd have to say it's at the very top of the chocolate heap--the Pinnacle Cake?

Although, come to think of it, the Tres Café Genoise could give any cake a run for its money in a contest for top-of-the-heapdom. When you've got a delicious genoise with just a hint of coffee (Hanaâ and I opted not to add coffee powder to the cake itself, so I guess ours was really a Deux Café Cake), that you top with a sinfully smooth and delectable whipped ganache, you have to bow to no cake. I loved this cake so much I was glad to cut it in half. I'm still trying to lose that stubborn holiday weight, and having this cake around would do me no good at all.


Woody: "Dee-licious. You two done good."

Hanaâ: "I think this is one of my favorite cakes."

Karen: "This cake has such a nice texture, and it's very moist. The coffee flavor is wonderful--and I don't like coffee. Very, very good cakeJim: "The cake is so moist it doesn't really need the syrup. I really like the ganache because it's so light but it still has a good chocolate flavor."


Hanaâ said...

As always, you are too kind, giving me way too much credit. I had a blast!! How could I not with such great company. There were so many highlights: the choc tasting (and having "my choc" win, ha ha), the beautiful Genoise, Woody's wonderful bread, and of course Jim's Ruler App. I'm also glad everybody liked the "tortilla" I brought. Already looking forward to the next Minnesota Threesome baking get-together :o)

faithy said...

Does Woody always 'label' his cakes?...I'm fascinated with the labeling..lol! Now i want to make a label like this too..and measure my cake next time!

Sounds like all of you had fun! I wish i could join you guys too!

Vicki said...

What fun! Y'all are like the Three Cabaalleros! After looking at your pictures, I realize I forgot to cut off the top.

Monica said...

I been hearing about Hanaa shortcut.. I want to know about the shortcut.... I need the shortcut (at least to keep me sane, since I know there are more ganaches coming my way).

I love how you whiteout the "secret" cake out of the picture, keeping us in the darka all the way to the end.

I'm a bit jealous that we don't live all close to eachother to have more baking at eachother episodes more often...

And, kudos to Hanaa on the piping.. psst, I think I know how she did the top of the cake, I learned that last week in my decorating class!

Jenn said...

Marie, sounds like you all had a fun. And you write such a funny post!!! And lucky you to already got previews to cakes from the new book.

About the chocolate bar, I did get a bar of 52% chocolate (Whole Food's brand). Another alternative is I find Rapunzel brand (53%) but much more expensive ($3.50 vs. $1.99).

Hanaa said that she will post her ganache shortcut - I'm looking forward.

Monica - so now you're gonna have to show us that piping soon! I want to see it :).

Marie said...

Definitely not too much credit--you are such a talented baker!

Woody labels, weighs, and measures his cakes. He brought me some extra labels in hopes that he could bring some discipline to my baking. I made no promises.

We did have fun! And what's a cake project if you don't forget something?

I wish we could do more group bakings too--it was just sheer luck that Hanaa and I ended up so close together, and coincidence that Woody and I--two of Rose's biggest fans--are in MN. It's probably not realistic to wish that more of us could get together, but it sure would be fun.

Hanaa's got her shortcut posted right now. She's very calm in the kitchen. I don't know what it would take to send her into a dither.

doughadear said...

This cake seems to be a real hit. Then again chocolate and coffee, need we say more. Lovely piping Hanaa.

Woody said...

The first time I visited Rose, she was baking a loaf a bread. As soon as her bread was out of the pan, she measured it with two rulers and wrote the measurements on her recipe sheet. I developed the test label so that Rose could quickly see a photo of a cake I was testing along with measurements to see if they matched hers or to another test (thank you digital photography and the internet). The test label can sit on top of the cake or folded to hang on a ruler as pictured in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The label has helped us many times when going back to a recipe to see what happened. I have made labels with different headings as we are now into breads, pies, and cookies.
The Cake label (so you can make your own) has measurements for: how tall the sides, center, and top (which I will write flat or domed or show a measurement if the cake dips; baking powder and baking soda levels; time it took to bake; the date; and weight of the batter before baking (to check against the ingredients weight). I will write the name of the cake and something about what I am testing ex: adding 2 Tbl butter; and the testing number, which I have a corresponding test report and spreadsheet for Rose and I to review. When we made The wedding cake for Marie's daughter's wedding last May, there were 14 tests. So the labels have come in handy to not drive Rose completely crazy about what happened this time.

We all had a great time. Although Marie should have tried decorating at least one border. She could have done it on my cake which any embarrassment would not be seen thanks to Jim's CIA white out skills.

Andrea said...

Looks like you all had a blast again! The cake looks beautiful and delicious. As good as it looks neither my husband or myself are fans of coffee in our dessert, and I've cut out almost all caffeine (except chocolate) so I will probably have to skip this one.

evil cake lady said...

great looking cake, minnesota threesome! i still dream of the HCB meeting up somewhere once the bake through is over. we could bake! and teach each other stuff!

Monica said...

I need to get Tom to move to Minnesota... I mean 1/2 of his family is ALREADY there!

Jenn said...

Monica, I'm not sure that's a good idea - do you know how cold it gets in the wintertime?

I'd suggest a frequent visit - maybe several long weekends a year :).

faithy said...

Thanks Woody for the information! How interesting! I should have done this too! I was baking Rose's white velvet cake in cupcake just this weekend and i wanted a specific dome on the cupcake..then i measured the batter to be exactly so that it will rise and give a dome. I realised that all purpose flour and cake flour doesn't give the same results too. I should have labeled it too cos now i can't remember what's the exact weight of the batter i had in my cupcakes..LOL!

Marie said...

There's a reason that people love mocha!

After you left, I decorated a few plates. They didn't look as good as Hanaa's cake.

My friend Karen who never drinks coffee still loved this cake, so you never know.

I share your dream! Just because it seems unlikely doesn't mean it can't happen.

Heed Jenn's warning! It's cold and icy here.

Jenn said...

Andrea, you can always use decaf. That's what I do (I'm not a big coffee drinker).

Melinda said...

How fun to have a baking day with Hanaa and Woody! The cake turned out lovely. Nice piping, Hanna. Very fancy scroll work there!

Marie said...

It was very fun. I think that you, Jennifer, Jini and I should also have a day of baking.

Monica said...

Jenn and Marie.. that is the ONLY variable that is keeping us from packing and moving... his aunt told us that it was minus something-something the other day, we sort of blocked it out.. how is it even humanly possible to function in that kind of weather?!?

Andrea said...

Jenn, that's a good idea to use decaf. I might give it a try for one of the free choice weeks.

Windows Server 2008 said...

Wow, great cake. Its really fun to bake. Thanks for sharing this.