This past winter was so hard that I intend to keep celebrating the arrival of spring for as long as I can get away with it. Clearly, nothing says spring better than cherry blossoms. In this cake, my goal was to have a creamy sakura-flavored mousse involving a fruity center, as a red fruit compote. For the base of the dessert, I made a crusty layer with puffed quinoa, the new (to me) ingredient I mentioned in my last post. To finalize, a pastel-colored mirror glaze action, in pink, purple and green. Why the French name? Because it is irresistibly poetic, that’s why.
SAKURA BUCHE DU PRINTEMPS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)
for the biscuit layer:
125 g eggs
90 g powdered sugar (I used Bakewell cherry flavored)
90 g almond flour
30 g flour
20 g melted butter
180 g egg whites
40 g sugar (superfine if available)
for the berry compote:
300 g pure of cherries and red berries
2 whole eggs
140 g honey
140 g whipping cream
6 g gelatin in sheets
60 g butter, at room temperature
for the quinoa-crisp:
113 g white chocolate
20 g pistachio paste
20 g puffed quinoa
for the mirror glaze:
150 g glucose
150 g granulated sugar
150 g white chocolate, cut in small pieces
75 g water
100 g condensed, sweetened milk
9 g gelatin in sheets
1/2 tsp titanium oxide (optional, but worth it)
pink, purple, and bright green gel food dye
Two days before serving, make the biscuit and the cherry compote.
For the biscuit: In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the leaf blade, beat the eggs, sugar an almond flour together for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and after thoroughly cleaning the bowl of the Kitchen Aid, whisk the egg whites until you can see if forming a trail as the whisk goes through them. At this point, slowly rain the fine sugar to form a soft-peak meringue. Add the meringue to the egg-sugar-almond mixture previously made. Mix gently with a spatula. Add the flour gently, sifting it over the mixture. Finally, add a bit of the mixture to the melted butter, make a smooth emulsion with it, and pour it into the batter. Mix as gently as possible.
Spread the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper as a layer a little over 1/2 inch thick, and bake for 12 minutes at 380 F. Once the biscuit is cool, cut the rectangle needed to fit the smaller buche. While the biscuit cools, make the compote.
For the compote: Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes. Place the eggs, honey, fruit puree and heavy cream in a bowl and whisk with an immersion blender (or use a regular blender if you prefer). Pour the mixture in a saucepan and bring the temperature to 180 F, stirring constantly and never using too high heat. Remove the pan from the stove, add the drained gelatin, and mix. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and add the softened butter, mixing again until well incorporated. Pour into the mold, then gently add the biscuit on top, pressing gently. You don’t want it to submerge, just float on the surface. Wrap the top of the mold with plastic and freeze overnight.
Make the quinoa-crisp. Bake the puffed quinoa in a 325 F oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a microwave very gently. Mix the melted chocolate with the pistachio paste. Add the quinoa and spread in a 4 mm (1/8 inch) thickness in between two sheets of parchment paper. It will be a little sticky, try to level it as best as you can. When it is cooled down a bit, cut the exact dimension of the bigger mold you will use for the dessert. Reserve.
Make the Sakura mousse. Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for at least 10 minutes. Bring the milk to almost boiling and add the sakura leaf powder, mixing well to dissolve. Let it sit covered for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Slowly add the hot milk infused with the sakura powder, whisking constantly. Transfer back to the pan and heat gently to 180 F. Do not let it go over or you will scramble the egg yolks. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool for a couple of minutes and add the drained gelatin and the Sakura extract. Reserve.
Whip the cold heavy cream to very soft peaks, do not over whip it. When the sakura custard is barely warm to the touch, add the whipped cream to form the final mousse, fold with a spatula until smooth. Pour the mousse into the large Buche mold up to 1/3 of its volume. Add the frozen insert made the day before, with the biscuit layer up. Complete the mold with mousse almost to the top, place the quinoa crisp on top, pressing gently. Wrap with plastic and freeze overnight.
Make the mirror glaze. Place the gelatin sheets inside a bowl with cold water for 10 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients. In a sauce pan, heat the glucose, sugar and water until boiling. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Let it cool slightly, and add to a bowl with the white chocolate in small pieces. After a few minutes, use a spatula to dissolve the chocolate. Add the gelatin and the condensed milk, and mix gently, try to avoid incorporating air bubbles. Add the titanium oxide and emulsify the mixture with an immersion blender to get rid of bubbles. Divide the mixture in three bowls. Eyeballing is fine. Add the color and mix very gently with a spatula, do not use a whisk to avoid incorporating bubbles. Cover with plastic touching the surface and place in the fridge overnight.
To glaze, warm up the mixtures in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds. Pass them each through a fine sieve to remove any residual bubbles. When the mixtures are at 98 F you can pour them in a tall pitcher, one color at a time, working fast so that the temperature does not drop too much. Glaze the frozen dessert allowing all colors to mix and mingle. Thaw the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Decorate the sides if you like, with tempered white chocolate or candy melts.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: The dessert was assembled in a set of Silikomart molds called “Buche.” They can be used either separately, or together in a way that the smaller mold makes a component that goes inserted in the bigger one. When planning a dessert using two molds, the first thing to consider is the volume needed, keeping in mind that a great deal of space will be occupied in the larger mold by the insert previously made. The amounts I shared work well with the Buche set. The composite photo above shows the overall preparation of the insert (compote + biscuit), that I made on a Friday evening, and left to freeze until next day. You can use any type of freezer-safe container you want, as long as it allows for easy un-molding later. The biscuit recipe makes more than needed for the base, so I cut a few rounds to freeze for a future adventure.
Saturday morning I made the crusty layer using puffed quinoa. To do so, I drew a precise template of the bigger Silikomart mold, and used a sharp paring knife to cut it. It is easier to cut while it’s still just a tad warm. While the layer cooled completely, I prepared the Sakura mousse.
The mousse is poured inside the larger buche mold, then the frozen insert carefully placed in the center, with the biscuit layer facing up. More mousse is used to fill the mold almost to the top, then the crusty layer is gently pressed on top. It is important to wrap the mold in plastic wrap so that when the mousse freezes it gets nicely compacted around the insert and the quinoa top (which will become the bottom in the final presentation).
Mirror glazing is definitely the most exciting part, although still a bit nerve-wracking for me. Things can go wrong in this final step for two main reasons: first, you can pour too fast and lose track of how much glaze is being used, how much is left to finish coating; second, the temperature might be slightly off, so either the glaze slides off the cake without sticking, or it might set too fast and compromise the beautiful, super smooth surface that is the goal. When using more than one color, it gets even trickier. All components have to be just right in consistency and temperature. The glazes are best made the day before, so I made them on Saturday, kept them all in the fridge. A 30 to 40 seconds encounter with the microwave puts all glazes at around 110F. At that point they went inside my bread proofing box set at 98F, and the waiting game started. You must be patient, and remember that whisking a mirror glaze suspension is a capital sin in patisserie. Bubbles must be minimized at all cost. Allow the different colors to equilibrate to the same temperature, get your frozen dessert ready, and let your inner Monet fly.
So there you have it, the Sakura Buche du Printemps ready to be enjoyed! The cherry blossom flavor is very unique, floral (obviously) but not overpowering, as long as you exercise caution when you add it. A little too much and the mousse will be ruined. I really liked the texture of the crunchy quinoa, an idea that I cannot take credit for. I found it in this blog post and simply “borrowed” it. I will be using it again and again. It is sturdy enough to support the mousse, but easy to cut without making a huge mess on the plate. The biscuit layer could conceivably be omitted to simplify preparation, but it does add a different texture in a sea of mousse and creamy fruit. I think it makes the dessert considerably more interesting.
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