ANYWAY. I digress. I had a really enjoyable birthday so far this year. I met up with friends for a birthday brunch the day before my birthday. The Sis and I went for a great lunch and coffee on my birthday itself (which was a Monday - but my workplace have a birthday day off scheme!) and I met up with a girlfriend for dinner. Then on the public holiday on Tuesday, I had a few girlfriends over for a homemade brunch party. And there are some more upcoming birthday gatherings...I'm blessed.
I was really fortunate on my birthday. First of all, I dropped $50 in a shop, but managed to find it when I retraced my steps. And second, when I was out shopping, I noticed I had a bleeding blister from the new shoes I was wearing. I asked my Sis if she had a bandaid, all the while rummaging through my bag to look for one. At the moment, the sales lady approached me, offering me a wet tissue AND a bandaid to clean up. That's just so nice of her isn't it?
Anyway, back to the cake at hand. I made this cake recently cos I wanted to use up the strawberry puree in the freezer. And also, because it's been pretty long since I last made an entremet.
Strawberry Vanilla Almond Entremet
I kinda created my own flavour pairings since what I had on hand was sweetened strawberry puree, and not the raspberry that the original recipe used. I made the cake, and thought that it might lack a little something in terms of texture. Thus, I decided to add a nuts layer to give it some balance. The sugared almonds were sooooooooooooooo good. It was so easy to just omnomnom on them. They are dangerously addictive eaten just like that, so be warned.
The cake itself was quite lackluster, but with the addition of the nuts, it lifted the cake into tasty territory. I mean, the textures of all the layers were all pretty good, but tastewise...it was just lacking in a little "oomph" factor. And the nuts were the pivotal factor.
I had a slight issue with the strawberry jelly layer. I was a little worried that it would not set properly, and I was quite right about it. When I removed the cake ring mold the first day after I made it, some of the jelly kinda oozed out from the sides (thus staining the bottom vanilla bavarian cream layer slightly pink). The jelly layer became firmer after at least two days in the refrigerator though. So I recommend either upping the amount of gelatin used just by a little bit, or making the cake in advance and letting it set in the refrigerator for sufficient time before removing the cake ring mold.
Strawberry Vanilla Almond Entremet (dacquoise, jelly and bavarian cream adapted from here and mousse from here)
(makes a 9x9 inch square entremet)
80g ground almonds
50g powdered sugar, unsifted
15g all-purpose flour
3 egg whites
50gr granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 175C and position a rack in the oven.
Sift the ground almonds, powdered sugar and flour and set aside.
Beat the eggs whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar while whipping the egg whites on high speed until stiff. Add the almond-flour mixture to the egg whites and fold gently with a spatula to combine.
Line and grease sheet pan with parchment paper, pour the batter onto the parchment lined pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Let cool.
Strawberry jelly (*recommended to increase amount of gelatin slightly cos jelly took quite some time to fully set)
1 tbsp powdered gelatin
1/8 cup cold water
2 cups frozen sweetened strawberry puree
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and set aside. Line two quarter sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan set over medium low heat, bring the strawberry puree to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin, stirring until it completely dissoved in the raspberries. Pour over the prepared sheet pans. Let cool to room temperature and then freeze until firm.
Vanilla bean bavarian cream
4 egg yolks
250ml whole milk
1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp powdered gelatin, sprinkled over 1/8 cup water
250ml whipping cream
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very pale.
In the meantime, bring the milk and the vanilla to a boil in a saucepan.
Remove from heat, slowly pour the milk over the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium low heat and cook until the cream coats the back of a spoon (as if making creme anglaise).
Add the softened gelatin and stir until melted completely into the cream. Let cool to room temperature.
Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the cooled cream base. Use immediately.
Lemon simple syrup
1 tsp limoncello
Mix water and sugar, microwave to dissolve sugar. Add limoncello, stir to combine. Leave to cool.
165g frozen sweetened strawberry puree
12g lemon juice
10g gelatin sheets, softened in ice water
37g egg whites
160g whipping cream
Heat the strawberry puree and lemon juice, remove from heat and stir in Chambord and the softened gelatin. Let the mixture cool completely.
In a sauce pan, heat the sugar and water and bring to boil over medium low heat. When the syrup reaches 100°C, start beating the egg whites till foamy stage.
When the syrup reaches 117°C, pour it in a thin stream over the egg whites and continue beating until meringue is cool. Fold the strawberry mixture into the Italian meringue.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the strawberry and mix to combine.
Snow powder (optional)
Freeze dried strawberry powder (optional)
100g diced almonds
Toast the diced almonds in the oven at 180C till very light brown (about 5 to 10 minutes). Remove from oven and cool.
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat till all the sugar dissolve, and until syrup reaches about 115C. Quickly stir in all the diced almonds and continue stirring to mix thoroughly.
Continue cooking till almonds are evenly coated in the syrup and till almonds are crunchy. (I added in a bit more water at this stage after all the syrup have evaporated and the mixture seemed too dry and crumbly - the mixture became a bit glossier after the addition of extra water)
Remove from saucepan, pour onto parchment lined pan and bake at 180C for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and set aside in an air tight container.
Use a 9x9" square frame and build your cake directly in the frame set on a sheet pan.
Cut the dacquoise to fit inside the square frame and place it at the bottom. Brush with lemon soaking syrup.
Pour the bavarian cream on top of the dacquoise. Refrigerate for a few hours till firm.
Remove the jelly from the freezer and cut to fit inside the frame too. Place it on top of the bavarian cream layer.
Pour the strawberry mousse on top of the jelly layer.
Refrigerate the cake until completely set, about 3 to 4 hours (best overnight).
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Remove the cake from the square frame and trim the edges. Top with sugared almonds, dust snow powder and dried strawberry powder.
Slice and serve.