When I first got my hands on a copy of Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet, I promised myself I was going to make the blackcurrant mousse on the front cover. Little did I know that getting hold of some fresh blackcurrants would be virtually impossible.
Initially my search began online with the ever faithful Ocado, the closest thing they had to blackcurrants was a bag of frozen mixed berries. There was no way I was going to sift through a bag of frozen mixed berries picking out the blackcurrants, not to mention how many bags I’d need to buy to get 400g of the little blighters.
No matter, I thought to myself, the area I live in probably has the highest concentration of supermarkets known to any high street, there’s almost one supermarket for every resident (slight exaggeration)! I’m sure to find some blackcurrants in one of them.
So I schlepped to my local Waitrose, no joy there either. In fact the same bags of frozen berries were the only thing available, mocking me from their icy holding bay! I then tried the local Co-Op, Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons, nothing, Ribena was probably the best they had to offer.
Then I saw the glowing beacon of Iceland, the frozen food emporium! This place must be frozen fruit heaven. How naive am I? A trawl of the aisles showed that they don’t stock ANY frozen or indeed fresh fruit. Perhaps it was foolish of me to look for frozen fruit in a place that considers the doner kebab pizza an achievement.
I asked for help on Facebook and lots of people told me to try the local farm shops, sadly I don’t drive and getting out to some of these places can be quite difficult. Instead I went back online and found some blackcurrant puree at Sous Chef.
This meant that I wouldn’t have any blackcurrants to decorate the top of the cake like in Patisserie Maison. I was tempted to get some blueberries and dip them in the glaze and pretend they were blackcurrants, but that felt a bit like cheating / blatantly lying. So I decided to abandon that form of decoration and come up with my own. This was made up of crushed almond praline, mini meringues, raspberry powder and a sprinkling of dried rose petals.
There’ll be more about the decoration at the end, firstly I need to begin with how the cake was constructed, what you can’t see is that the base of this cake is a layer of genoise, that has been brushed with creme de cassis. The genoise was very easy to make and I did have to reduce the cooking time a little, this isn’t a fault of the recipe as all ovens vary and it’s very easy to tell when a genoise is ready. If you press the top of the cake lightly it should spring back and it”ll be pretty colourless, if you overcook it, it turns to biscuit, so if your genoise is brittle, you’d better make another one!
The mousse is made up of whipped cream, italian meringue, blackcurrant puree and gelatine. I did notice an error with the italian meringue recipe in Patisserie Maison, the ingredients contained liquid glucose, but I couldn’t see this in the recipe anywhere. I assumed the liquid glucose wasn’t needed and I omitted it. I did however contact the publishers Ebury Press and they got back to me in less than 24hrs, now that is quite some turnaround. Apparently the liquid glucose is needed and it’s added at the sugar syrup stage. I have included the corrected recipe in this post. I would like to add that my mousse worked just fine without the liquid glucose, so if you don’t want to add it, I don’t think you need to.
The recipe explained that the blackcurrants need to be cooked and sieved to remove the lumps, I was smug because I had puree! However I think I added too much puree and i should have adjusted the quantity as I’m sure 400g of blackcurrant produces much less fruit pulp than adding 400g of puree. It’s pretty blackcurranty now.
I cut out a circle of genoise that was 2cm smaller than my entremet mould / cake ring and sat this on a cake board inside the cake ring. I then filled the cake ring with my mousse. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to flatten out the mousse to get a level top, however because the mousse is quite soft at this stage, it pretty much levelled itself out. I put the mousse in the fridge and left it to set for 1 1/2 hours.
The top of the cake is finished off with a glaze made of creme de cassis, gelatine and sugar. I let my glaze cool and took the mousse from the fridge, the top still felt a bit soft, but according to the recipe, I only needed to wait at least an hour and I had been waiting over an hour. Now here’s a nod to the title of this post, I should’ve trusted my instincts and popped the mousse back in the fridge for a bit longer.
Instead I poured the glaze over and watched as it sunk into the middle of the mousse and a majority of it fell out of the side of the ring. Strangely, I didn’t feel too upset, I actually felt like laughing. I knew that the mousse wasn’t ready, but for some reason I completely went against my better judgement. This might have been a different matter had this been a cake for a special occasion or a paying customer. Instead I put the cake in the fridge and decided to worry about it in the morning.
The next day I checked the little bit of glaze that remained on the top, it had set. So the only solution I could come up with was to make more of the glaze and pour it straight over the top in an attempt to hide the hole. I’m afraid I was in a bit of a rush by this point and I completely forgot to photograph the sunken middle. I should’ve done though as I think I was pretty lucky to get away with a cake that looked this good.
I have no idea what the cake looks like inside, I haven’t been brave enough to cut it open yet, I have a feeling there might be an inner core of jellied glaze! It might be a masterpiece I’ll never be able to create again, or an eyesore… a cake lottery! This recipe has been the ultimate cover-up.
I covered the cake in mini meringues, these were made by making a swiss meringue with a quantity of 1 egg white to 60g of sugar, whisked over a bain-marie until it reaches 50ºC, it’s then whipped in a food mixer and piped onto a baking tray in small blobs. I baked these for 1 1/2 hours at 80ºC and then turned the oven off and left them inside overnight. These were very sticky the next day, so I’m not sure this is the best recipe. The rose petals I bought from Waitrose, the freeze-dried raspberry powder came from Sous Chef and the almonds were made into a classic praline and then blitzed in a food processor.
If you’d like to create this blackcurrant mousse yourself, here’s the recipe:
- ****GENOISE SPONGE****
- 63g Caster Sugar
- 2 Medium Eggs
- 63g Plain Flour
- 13g Melted Butter
- ****ITALIAN MERINGUE****
- 190g Sugar
- 45ml Water
- 20ml Liquid Glucose
- 3 Medium Egg Whites
- ****THE MOUSSE****
- 6 Gelatine Leaves
- 400g Blackcurrants (Fresh or Frozen, or 325g Puree)
- 150ml Double Cream
- 50ml Creme de Cassis
- ****THE GLAZE****
- 2 Gelatine Leaves
- 50g Caster Sugar
- 150ml Creme de Cassis
- First make the genoise, grease and line a baking tray that is at least 25 x 30cm in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180C Fan or Gas 4.
- Put the sugar and eggs in a bowl (use the bowl of your food mixer if you have one) and stir with a whisk, then put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water).
- Whisk for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and has tripled in size.
- Transfer to a food mixer with a whisk attachment or use a hand-held one, and whisk at high speed until the mixture has cooled down and clings easily to the whisk, which will leave ribbon patterns in the mixture as you lift it.
- Very gently fold in the sifted flour a little at a time with a metal spoon - you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
- Then very gently, fold in the melted butter.
- Tip the mixture onto your tray and tilt it so that it spreads in the corners.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- When the sponge is baked, turn out onto a cooling rack.
- Now make the Italian meringue, put the sugar in a pan with the water and glucose, heat gently for about 5-8 minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved and formed a colourless syrup and small bubbles are breaking the surface.
- The syrup is ready when it reaches 121C on a thermometer.
- Now you are ready to whisk your egg white. You can do this using a food mixer with a whisk attachment, or a hand-held whisk, but whichever you use, make sure your bowl is absolutely clean and dry, as water or grease can prevent the egg white from stiffening.
- Whisk the egg whites until soft foamy peaks form, then stop as soon as you reach this point, as if you over-whisk, the air bubbles that you have created will burst and the egg whites will collapse back into liquid.
- Next you are going to pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites. Since you need both hands free - one to pour and one to whisk - if you are whisking by hand, then before you start, wrap a tea towel around your bowl and wedge it into an empty saucepan to hold it steady.
- Pour the syrup in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously until the meringue has cooled down to room temperature and is silky and glossy.
- For the mousse soak the gelatine briefly in cold water to soften, then squeeze out the excess water.
- In a blender puree the blackcurrants and push through a fine sieve to remove the skin and any stems, or just use a puree.
- Heat a quarter of the puree in a pan (don't let it boil) then take off the heat and stir in the gelatine, then stir in the rest of the puree. Leave until completely cold and then fold into the Italian meringue.
- Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks (just enough to hold), and then fold this into the meringue mixture.
- Cut out a circle of genoise sponge a little smaller than the pastry ring, use a plate or cake tin as a guide.
- Place the ring on a round cake board or baking tray (anything that will fit in the fridge). Put the sponge in the base.
- Brush with the creme de cassis. Pour the mousse mixture on top and spread out gently so that it is level.
- You need to stop about 1mm below the rim to allow space for a layer of glaze.
- Lift one corner of the cake board with a palette knife and tap it very gently up and down to remove any pockets of air from the mousse. Put the mousse in the fridge for at least 3 hours or until set and cold.
- To make the glaze, soak the gelatine in cold water to soften, then squeeze out the excess water. Put the sugar and creme de cassis in a pan and warm until the sugar has dissolved.
- Take off the heat, add the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Leave until cool but not set.
- If using blackcurrants dip them in the glaze to coat them and keep to one side.
- Take the mousse from the fridge, pour a thin layer of glaze over the top.
- Decorate the top with the reserved blackcurrants and put back into the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight, to set.
- To remove the ring, loosen it with a very slim bendy blade, or warm the ring with a blow torch very briefly from a distance, then slide off.
Apart from the minor error with the italian meringue recipe, I’ve found this book to be very good. I would say some of the recipes aren’t for someone just starting out in baking, but there’s plenty you could start off with and work your way up. You do need to know your oven (in my case your fridge) well as some of my cooking times varied, however this is a problem with domestic ovens and is why you need to know how to test a cake is cooked (if it springs back when you touch it, or a cocktail stick comes out clean, it’s done). There’s only so much a book can do to help you.
There’s still 12 days left to win a copy of Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet see below for information on how to enter:
Do you trust your instincts when baking? Or do you always follow the recipe to the letter? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.