I have some sad news.
We had our final, proper, baking class of the year this week. Only a company visit and an exam are left on the agenda. After that, we'll be left to our own devices for a couple of months. Lucky that I already have some exciting baking plans lined up for the summer.
Speaking of summer... we made a perfect dessert for those warm, lazy summer days. It's fruity, it's fresh and it's fluffy. It's also one of my aunt Nicole's signature desserts and a surefire hit at our family gatherings. (The pressure, right?) But you know what? It's also pretty darn easy to make.
Now, easy to make doesn't mean that you don't have to keep your head in the game. We've already proved that several times in baking class. This week, too, we started our preparations with a little bit of chaos and some miscommunications. It's simply what happens when you have four to eight people working on a single recipe together. "Has anyone measured this sugar?" "Is the flour sifted already?" "Where is the baking powder?" ...
Headless chickens and all that.
It wasn't all that dramatic, though. Our preparations involved making an almond sponge cake and whipping a whole lot of heavy cream and the closest we came to a problem was, maybe, putting too much sugar in the cream. Someone spotted the mistake before the cream was whipped, though, so we simply added more cream to balance it out. Crisis averted.
We didn't even forget about the cakes in the oven. In fact, the almond sponge came out of the oven all golden and fragrant. It was so tempting, all I wanted to do was to sneak piece after piece of it.
I restrained myself.
We let the sponge cool for a little bit and then cut out circles and rectangles to fill our molds with. We gathered whipped cream and gelatine, fought over boxes of raspberry and passion fruit puree - strawberry was a little less popular - and organized our molds onto a lined baking sheet.
Preparations: done. Bavarois: almost done.
Seriously, making the actual bavarois took less time than all the preparatory work. It was a simple sum of melted gelatine + fruit puree + sweetened whipped cream. Layer this mixture with slices of sponge cake and you've got yourself a colorful dessert that might even turn some heads. Seriously. One of my friends voted it the best dessert I've made in baking class this year.
Is it better than my aunt Nicole's bavarois?
I must admit that the passion fruit bavarois came pretty close to Nicole's, but the raspberry was a little too mellow to compete. Nicole's recipe has a few more elements and a lot more raspberry in comparison, so that the fruit flavor comes out a little stronger. It also helps that she tops her bavarois with raspberry coulis rather than the neutral jelly (and food coloring) that we used in baking class.
Ah well, I will never be a fan of jellies and glazes. Thank God they are optional.
What you do need, though, are bottomless molds - you can buy them at cooking supply stores, use the rim of a springform pan for a large bavarois or simply diy them from a plastic pipe -, a palette knife and a whisk. And a recipe, perhaps?
raspberry/passion fruit bavarois
recipe from baking class (syntra west)
makes 2 medium bavarois cakes
for the almond biscuit
5 large eggs
335 gr broyage (50/50), or 167 gr granulated sugar + 167 gr ground almonds
45 gr all purpose flour
180 gr egg white
40 gr granulated sugar
40 gr butter, melted
for the bavarois
7 gelatine sheets
250 gr fruit puree (raspberry, passion fruit, ... / fresh or frozen), room temperature
750 gr sweetened whipped cream, whipped to a thick yoghurt consistency
coulis or neutral jelly, for decorating (optional)
fresh fruit, for decorating (optional)
for the almond biscuit
1. Mix the 5 eggs with the broyage and flour. Whisk the mixture while you heat it to a maximum of 40˚ C. Take it off the heat and continue to whisk until it's really fluffy and white.
2. Meanwhile, start whisking the egg whites. Once they've become a little stiff, gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until they start to form soft peaks.
3. Using a spatula, mix in about half of the egg whites with the broyage-egg mixture. Continue to mix while you pour in the melted butter. End by folding in the rest of the egg whites.
4. Pour the batter onto a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and spread it out to a thickness of 0,5 to 1 cm. Bake in an oven of 200-220˚C for about 7 minutes. Turn the baked sponge cake over onto your work surface - sprinkle your surface with sugar if you want to - and allow it to cool a little bit before you remove the baking sheet and parchment paper.
5. Cut pieces from the sponge cake that are slightly smaller than the molds you are using. This way, the sponge cake won't show on the outside of the cake. Cut 2 pieces per mold, so you can put one on the bottom and another one in the center.
For the bavarois
1. Start by soaking the gelatine sheets in cold water. Wring them and distribute them over the bottom of a small saucepan. Melt the gelatine sheets over low to medium heat, but don't allow them to boil. It's best to remove the pan from the heat when they've only half melted. The rest will melt from residual heat.
2. Add the fruit puree of your choice to the melted gelatine and stir until it is thoroughly mixed. (If you're using frozen fruit puree, make sure to heat it to room temperature first.) Pour the fruit puree-gelatine mixture onto the sweetened whipped cream, making sure to scrape out the saucepan. Use a whisk to combine fruit puree and whipped cream. This will also whip your cream a little bit more. Transfer the bavarois mixture to a piping bag.
3. Prepare your molds. Place them on a baking sheet (or another plate that fits into your freezer/refrigerator) lined with paper. Put a slab of sponge cake on the bottom, making sure that it doesn't touch the sides of the mold. Now start by piping a layer of bavarois around the piece of sponge cake and, next, on top of it. Use your palette knife to press some of the bavarois up against the sides of the mold, all the way to the top. This will ensure that your bavarois cake has a clean edge without holes. Place the second piece of sponge cake onto the first layer of bavarois and cover it with another layer of bavarois. Fill the mold completely and even add a little extra. Finally, use your palette knife to flatten out the top, removing the excess bavarois, but making sure to leave no holes. You want a clean straight edge.
4. Put the plate with bavarois in the freezer to set for about an hour or so, or in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. (Longer if you're making a big one.)
If you want, you can easily stop here. The most important part is done, right? All you have to do is transfer the bavarois to a serving plate and unmold. Take a thin, sharp knife and run it along the inside of the mold. Try to press it outwards against the mold, so you don't damage the bavarois itself. Lift up the mold. (If your mold is heatproof, you can also try heating it to unmold.)
If you want to add a decorative top, though - be it jelly or coulis -, do so while the bavarois is still in the mold. Just add a dollop of coulis or jelly on top of the bavarois and use a palette knife to spread it out. Transfer to a serving plate and unmold before adding fruit and/or other decorations.
Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator for a couple of days.