An Elegant Layer Cake For My Two-Year Blogiversary

8 Sep

Recipe courtesy of The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories 

Ingredients 
For the Genoise: 
2 oz. unsalted butter
6 eggs 
7 oz. sugar 
7.5 oz. all-purpose flour

For the hazelnut meringue: 
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted 
3 large egg whites at room temperature
Pinch of sea salt 
1/8 tsp cream of tartar 
1/2 cup sugar

For the buttercream:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup water 
1/8 tsp cream of tartar 
2 sticks butter 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the salted caramel chocolate ganache:
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
3 tblsp water 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, heated 
1 1/2 tblsp unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
3/4 tsp sea salt 

For the simple syrup: 
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup water 
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

1. To make the meringue: preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On the parchment, outline circles of your cake pan with a pen. 
2. Place the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed until soft peaks form. Stream in the sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff. Gently fold the ground hazelnuts into the egg whites. 
3. Scoop the egg whites into a pastry bag and pipe meringue circles using the outlines on the parchment paper. Bake the meringues for 1 to 1.5 hours, rotating the pan half way through, until they are crisp. Allow the meringues to cool on the baking sheet for three hours. 
4. To make the Genoise: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter and set aside. Place the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and place the bowl over a double boiler. Whisk the mixture by hand until it is hot to the touch. Place the bowl on the mixer equipped with a whisk attachment and beat the eggs until they almost surpass the bowl in height. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine. 
5. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and sift the flour into the mixture in three parts, folding each time until just combined. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter. Pour the batter into the cake pan, leaving out any clumps of flour from the bottom of the bowl that weren’t mixed in. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
6. To make the buttercream: Whip the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer until they triple in volume. While the eggs are whipping away, place the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a saucepot and bring to a heavy boil. With the mixer on medium speed, pour the sugar syrup over the eggs in a slow, steady stream. Continue beating for 10-15 minutes, or until the bowl cools to room temperature. Add the butter one pat at a time until the cream thickens. Add the vanilla extract and turn the mixture to high speed for the final 2 minutes.
7. To make the salted caramel chocolate ganache: Stir together the sugar and water in a medium heavy saucepan until the sugar is moistened. Heat on medium-high, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring and allow the syrup to boil undisturbed until it turns deep amber (370 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer.) Remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully stir in the hot cream. It will bubble up furiously.

8. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir the mixture gently, scraping down to the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to very low heat, continuing to stir gently for 1 minute, or until the mixture is uniform in color and the caramel is fully dissolved. Remove pan from the heat and gently stir in the butter until incorporated. Pour the hot caramel sauce onto the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. By the time all of the caramel has been added, the chocolate will be melted and the mixture will be smooth and shiny. Add the vanilla and the salt and mix to combine.
9. Scrape ganache into a bowl and let stand uncovered for 1 hour then cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for two more hours, until firm enough to spread as a filling and frosting.
10. To make the simple syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan and scrape in the vanilla bean seeds. Remove from the heat. 
11. To assemble: Using a serrated knife, split the Genoise in half lengthwise. Using a pastry brush, soak the cake in enough simple syrup just to moisten it- do not make it soggy. On top of the first cake layer, place a dollop of buttercream and spread evenly until it is about half an inch in height. Stick the cooled meringue circle over the buttercream layer. On top of the meringue, spread a half inch layer of chocolate ganache. Place the second Genoise layer over the chocolate ganache and soak with simple syrup. Top the cake with another layer of ganache. Optional: finish by spreading buttercream on the sides of the cake and stick ground hazelnuts on the buttercream for decoration. 


          Two whole years have passed since I first launched this blog and what a journey it has been. I have traveled to new and exciting destinations, visited amazing bakeries from around the world, and created a few memorable treats in my own kitchen. I have epitomized my motto and lived life one bite at a time. So, what better way to celebrate the occasion than with a decked-out layer cake? 
          It’s been a while since a layer cake graced the front page of Let’s Live La Vida and in many ways, the differences between the two posts reflect my overall growth as a blogger. My palette has become more refined and I have become a more skilled and daring baker. By observing experts and learning from them, I feel more comfortable and at ease in the kitchen. This intricate layer cake demonstrates my development from a novice baker to someone who knows what she’s doing (most of the time). 
          Genoise, a plain, subtly dry cake forms the anchor of this recipe. Genoise is designed to be soaked in simple syrup and layered with fabulous fillings as it does not possess much flavor on its own. Every bite contains a medley of distinct tastes and textures that blend seamlessly together. The rich salted caramel chocolate ganache complements the nuttiness of the hazelnut meringue and the fluffy vanilla buttercream ties the three together.
          Chocolate and hazelnut aren’t your favorites? Not to worry, Genoise can be endlessly adapted to suit your personal preferences. Soak it with coconut simple syrup and cover the sides with coconut buttercream and toasted coconut flakes for a divine coconut cake. Take advantage of summer’s trickling stone fruits by layering it with poached peaches and whipped cream and sprinkling the top with sliced almonds. Tweak the recipe proportions for a sheet pan, slice clean square pieces, and you have a lovely opera cake. 
          I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try this cake. When you do, stick some imaginary candles on it and celebrate Let’s Live La Vida’s second birthday with me. 

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6 Responses to “An Elegant Layer Cake For My Two-Year Blogiversary”

  1. Anonymous September 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    FYI Genoise is Italian.

  2. Maral September 10, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    Genoise is an Italian sponge cake but is also closely associated with French cuisine. It is a building block of French pastry, used as the base for several different types of cake.

  3. Mary @ Sifting Focus September 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    This is my kind of cake. Looks delicious and I'm guessing it must have tasted even better!

  4. Maral September 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Hi Mary! This is definitely a cake that looks beautiful and tastes even better. 🙂

  5. Dina September 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    lovely and sounds delish!

  6. Maral September 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Thanks Dina! I hope you give it a try 🙂

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