Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gateau Alexandre

Happy birthday to my little nephew who just turned 2. This cake was created in his honor by Jeanne Oh. I made it a year ago for his first birthday as a test. I was around when my sister made it the first time this year, and I have to say I think a single layer works better. Warning: this is a very time consuming cake to make.

Three components:
1. pastry cream (for gateau)
2. baked cherries (for garnish)
3. gateau

Pastry Cream
1 c (242 g) whole milk
1 vanilla bean (or 1 t vanilla extract--bean is better)
1/4 c (50 g) sugar
1/6 c (20 g) cornstarch, sifted
3 large egg yolks
1 T (14 g) unsalted butter, room temp

1. Prepare cooling pan by lining shallow baking pan (or bowl) with plastic wrap. Set aside.
2. Add milk to saucepan and scrape seeds from the vanilla bean (cut bean lengthwise). Bring milk to a boil and remove from heat. (When the milk violently bubbles over like a volcano, it's boiled)
3. While the milk is boiling, whisk sugar and cornstarch in small bowl. Add yolks to sugar mixture and whisk until the mixture turns pale yellow and is thick and smooth (very important because you don't want clumpy pastry cream). Gradually pour half of the hot milk into the yolk
mixture and whisk to combine. Return the yolk & milk mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Boil for 30 more seconds, then remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until completely
4. Scrape the pastry cream into the cooling pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap directly against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool at room temp. (Note, you can refrigerate (keeps for 3 days) but make sure that you whisk the mixture smooth before use).

Baked Cherries (for garnish)
2.2 lbs (1 kg) fresh cherries, pitted
100 g sugar

1. Mix cherries in sugar. Bake in covered dish at 475 F or (250 C) for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time.
2. Allow cherries to cool (approximately 4 hours).

3/4 c (90 g) slivered almonds, food processed finely ground (about 45
1/3 c (30 g) slivered almonds (for garnish)
1 1/3 c (193 g) all purpose flour
1 t (5 g) baking powder
4 large eggs
1 c (200 g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
14 T (200 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 T (14 g) orange juice or dark rum
Pastry Cream at room temp (above)
3/4 lb (341 g) sour or black cherries, pitted

1. Sift flour and baking powder over ground almonds. Gently whisk until combined and set aside.
2. Place 3 eggs and sugar in large bowl. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean and add to sugar mixture. Whisk the eggs until thickened and pale. Whisk in the melted (and cooled) butter . Whisk in the dry ingredients and orange juice. Let the batter stand for atleast 20 minutes
3. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Butter two 8 inch round cake pans or one 10 or 11 inch round cake pan. Dust the pans with flour, tapping excess.
4. Whisk the pastry cream smooth and fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip with the pastry cream (you can also make a makeshift pastry bag by using a ziploc bag and cutting the corner off).
5. Scrape 3/4 of the cake batter into each cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Pipe the pastry cream over the batter in each pan, beginning 1/4 inch from the edge of the pan and piping in a loose spiral towards the center, leaving about 1 inch between the coils.
6. Arrange the cherries over the pastry cream, dividing them evenly between the two cakes. Scrape the remaining cake batter over the cherries, dividing it evenly, and smooth it into an even layer, covering the cherries as much as possible.
7. Lightly beat the remaining egg and lightly brush the tops of the cakes with this egg wash.
8. Bake the cake(s) for 30-35 minutes (for 8 inch) and about 45 minutes (for larger), until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake(s) in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes and cool completely. Reinvert the cakes to serve.

1. Cake on dish
2. Arrange baked cherries on top of cake
3. sprinkle slivered almonds on top.

NOTE: I think this cake would taste fantastic with a taste of chocolate, but I am uncertain if babies can have chocolate. When Hugh gets older and develops his own taste, you can alter the pastry cream to a chocolate one by adding about 4 ounces (154 g) of melted dark chocolate. Alternatively, you can prepare a chocolate sauce on the side:

Chocolate Sauce
5 oz (142 g) Sugar
8 oz (240 ml) Water
2.25 oz (64 g) light corn syrup
2 oz (56 g) cocoa powder, sifted
8 oz (227 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from heat
2. Place the cocoa powder in a bowl and add enough of the hot sugar syrup to make a paste, stirring until smooth. Gradually add the remaining syrup and mix until fully incorporated.
3. Add the melted chocolate and blend until fully incorporated
4. Optional: Strain the sauce through a fine meshed sieve
5. Serve warm or chilled (warm is better, I think!)

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