Well, it is birthday week again in the Noto home. Though each birthday is special, Sydney’s week always is a little more exceptional, and this is her nineteenth birthday. Time seems to leap, gallop, and sprint by, as each year passes. It was only a blink away when I brought my little burrito wrapped baby home; now she is a sophomore in college, a beautiful young woman starting her own life. I seem to always become a “tad” nostalgic during Sydney’s birthday week. She wanted to start off her week with petit fours, so we created two different cakes and sizes.
We decided to bake three cake sheets (1/2 size sheets), one a yellow cake, one a joconde, and one a white cake; I thought a white Petit Four with white fondant would be elegant. So we grabbed our ingredients,bowls, and began weighing as we set up the mise en place. Now we had all the ingredients ready, and sifted. With elegance in mind and wanting each sheet cake to be perfect, I started adding the eggs, one at a time. I heard a little shriek, looked-up, but before I asked Sydney I realized instead of one of the eggs ending up in the standing mixing bowl I had accidently thrown the egg on Sydney’s favorite blue top. I can honestly say this has NEVER happened, laughing and mortified I told Sydney to put the top in the washer and grab one of my tops to wear while we baked. The irony did not escape me, here we were creating dainty fancy cakes and I have thrown an egg at my sous chef. In my defense we both were standing on either side of the mixer, and my attention was more towards how the cakes would be decorated. Lucky enough the cakes’ integerity were not compromised!
115 grams/ ½-cup almond paste
40 grams/ 3 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
12o grams/6 egg yolks
Zest of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
15 grams/ 1-Tablespoon warm water
Pinch of Salt
100 grams/ 7/8 -cup cake flour, sifted
93 grams/3 large egg whites
¼-teaspoon egg white powder
55 grams/ ¼-cup super fine sugar
Prepare your mise en place. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F, and prepare a 17×11.5 inch sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper and spray with baking spray.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the almond paste and sugar beat on medium-low speed just to blend. Raise the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture resembles a coarse sand or meal.
Add the egg yolks one at a time, on medium speed; allow each egg yolk to become incorporated prior to adding the next, keeping the batter a lump free creamy consistency. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the lemon zest, vanilla, almond extract, and salt until well blended. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour alternating the flour and water, beginning and ending with flour.
Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the egg whites and egg white powder in a bowl of A VERY CLEAN standing mixer, with the whisk attachment, whisk until soft peaks form and slowly add ½ the sugar. Add the second half of sugar right before stiff peaks form. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
Carefully fold one-third of the egg-white mixture into the batter with a rubber spatula or a balloon whisk. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.
Pour into a half sheet, smooth the top, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed in the center.
Invert the cake onto a cooling rack, remove the silpat or parchment paper, re-invert, and allow to cool.
118 grams/ ½ cup-water
100 grams/ ½ cup sugar
1/4-cup Nivan (vanilla cognac)
Make a simple syrup allow the syrup to cool and add the Nivan.
Use natural apricot jam.
Heat just to warm and spreadable.
2oo grams/7 ounces marzipan
500 grams ready-made fondant
1/3 special simple syrup, recipe below
1-Tablespoon lemon juice
Special Simple Syrup:
118 grams/ ½ -cup water
100 grams/ ½ -cup sugar
Make the simple syrup, and allow to cool before adding the limoncello.
Combine the fondant with 60 grams of special simple syrup in a heat-proof bowl over a water bath. Stir until loosened, do not allow the fondant to go above body temperature. Stirring constantly with a heat-proof rubber spatula.
- Using a sharp serrated knife cut the biscuit horizontally in half.
- Take a pastry brush and lightly brush the top of the cake with vanilla syrup, wrap with film and place in the freezer for at least 1 to 2 hours.
- About 10 minutes prior to decorating the biscuit prepare the fondant (per the brand of fondant instructions). If using different colors color the fondant and cover the bowls.
- Knead the marzipan and put in a circle or what ever shape your cake is. Dust a flat work area with icing sugar; roll out marzipan to 3mm thickness, cut to the same size of the cake and brush apricot jam. Lift the marzipan around the pin and carefully lay it over the top of the cake.
- Using 1- inch round cutters, cut out circles from the cake.
- Brush with a little more vanilla syrup.
- Heat the fondant until it is runny, without allowing it to boil.
- Stir. Put the petit fours, one at a time, in the fondant glacé using a chocolate dipping fork. Then place onto a cooling rack on a sheet pan and let set.
- Once the cakes are ready to package damp fingers and package.
We used ready-made gumpaste, a cherry blossom cutter, cherry silicone venires, a daisy cutter, a ball tool, a bone tool, a celstick, and dusting icing powder. Work with small amounts of gum paste, as it tends to dries out fast, roll it out with a small Fondant rolling pin. Use any small flower cutter of choice, cut a few flowers out at time and decorate. I found the best way to attach the flowers was with a little liquid icing sugar and a small brush.
We used a ready made rolled fondant and cut the fondant with a daisy cutter; which was the same cutter we used for the white Petit Daisy Cakes!