Today’s new thing is one I’ve been looking forward to and imagining since the summer. I’d been saving the last bake from Volume 1 of my baking course with Puff the Bakery until I had a special occasion, but now I’m well on my way in Volume 2 of the course, I need to know some of the skills I would have learned from the last bake to move forward. So without anything special to celebrate other than the upcoming weekend (which should always be a cause for celebration), I set to making my most ambitious and creative bake yet, the chocolate entremet.
The entremet is used as a way for pastry chefs to showcase a variety of skills in one bake and normally consists of a dessert with numerous layers built using different techniques. This could be anything, fruits, parfait, brownie, financier – anything you can think of that would build into a multi-textured, flavourful creation you could add. I like the idea of this creative freedom, but for me I need to know a basic recipe before I can start making it my own. Enter the wonderful world of Puff, aka the best thing to happen to my kitchen and the worst thing to happen to my waistline. Their recipe for a chocolate entremet called for a chocolate genoise sponge, some peanut praline, rum-soaked bananas, a chocolate bavarois to hold it all in place, and a shiny mirror glaze to cover it all. I’m not a huge banana fan so I decided to use raspberries instead, and I changed the nut to hazelnuts so it would go better. This cake was going to be super decadent!
The whole process to create this took two days. The genoise sponge cake was something I’d made before when making trifle so wasn’t a problem, and I just added a little lemon and a simple syrup to the raspberries to prepare them. The hazelnuts were pretty time consuming as I first roasted them, then tried to take the skins off which took forever, and then made the praline in the pan, using some interesting sugar work. Once everything was cool, cut to size, and ready to go in the cake, I made the bavarois – a mousse-y cream made by folding heavy cream into a custard – and poured it all around. This was a bit scary as I didn’t know if everything would stay put or if I’d have hazelnut and raspberries floating around everywhere, but I put it in the freezer, ready to be glazed the next day.
Despite all the steps and the dessert’s complexity, the only real issue I had when making this was that I didn’t have a silicone cake mould. I had to use copious amounts of clingfilm in a cake tin instead, and as a result, the sides came out a bit wrinkled from where the layers of clingfilm had crumpled together. It would have definitely looked better being smooth, but once the mirror glaze went on, everything looked so shiny and delicious it didn’t really matter.
I’m not going to lie, it was very stressful moving the freshly glazed cake onto a plate – I was so scared of dropping the whole thing, but once I got it on the plate it was perfect. I then had to wait an agonising few hours whilst the cake defrosted in the fridge before I could slice it open and see what I’d created.
It’s hard to describe how proud I am of making this – the taste was unbelievable, and I’d managed to make it, all by myself. Before starting the Puff course I would have never have dreamed of being able to make something so fancy and complex, I was quite happy going to my favourite brownie recipe time after time (Katherine Hepburn’s if you’re curious). Now I know the foundations I need to create something this amazing, the sky’s the limit!