This cake has a really nice story to it and I can't wait to tell you about it!
Originally created for my friend's girlfriend's 21st birthday, and under his absolute orders that it had to be something princess-y and girly, this cake was born. It's not as easy creating a French entremet that encompasses those descriptions since we're limited by the fact that we don't use fondant or any types of modeling sugar/chocolate, we hate buttercream and only use it unless absolutely necessary, and since it's not a layered cake but a mousse/ganache based one, it doesn't have the structure to hold a 2nd tier unless the first tier is made completely out of styrofoam. I definitely think I achieved girly with this one, and the flavour combination is unique and fresh. I was going to name this cake after her but in the end, Jillian (the girlfriend) really wanted a buttercream ombré cake. Well in this country, what's new right? But I was okay, I figured it was about time I started creating pastries again and I'm so pleased with the result. Coincidentally, my good friend asked for a cake meant for his friend's birthday and I thought it'd be a good opportunity to let someone else, (other than my family) taste it and give me some feedbacks.
I first thought of this when I saw a small little brown bag of dried Verveine leaves in mummy's tea stash. I was surprised because Verveine is quite uncommon here. Turns out it was a free sample from a pharmacy store she was at when she was visiting me in Paris. That was when the idea came to me because I've tasted and made pastries in France that make use of this tea and it's one of my most absolute favourite aroma and flavour. I had to make use of it and bring what is so common in Paris, over to Singapore. In case you don't know what Verveine is, it's Lemon Verbena. When dried, the leaves are fragrant with tones of earthiness, freshness and a very subtle lemon scent. It also has undertones of almond notes. That was when I decided that my ganache verveine had to include some almond milk syrup because it complements it perfectly and just accentuates the Lemon Verbena tea leaves.
I could not find the exact Sirop Lait d'Amandes which I used to use back in Paris here in Singapore. The closest I could get was Orgeat, which is an almond syrup with hints of orange blossom. Requesting a little bottle from the bar, I started on my test and it was probably the best darn thing I had ever made. I love it too much it's not even normal.
Another aroma that is uncommon here would be Fleur d'Oranger. That is essentially orange blossom water. Orange-y, definitely, but more floral than fruity. I knew it would marry up with to that wild strawberry and verveine ganache. My friend, Amber, graciously bought for me an entire 1litre bottle of this stuff when she was in Paris, and for only 2.70euros! I knew it'd be cheap there but damn, that is CHEAP. It was essential to me that my orange blossom water was from France because it's the stuff I used to work and am familiar with. I tried getting this small bottle of what was stated as "orange blossom water" from Phoon Huat which cost me a whopping 13SGD. I got home, opened it, and I was disappointed as hell. All that was inside was just alcohol. That was all I could smell. This just serves as a reminder as to why I never shop at Phoon Huat... </3 Breaks my heart all the time. But let's push past this unhappy incident and talk about the better things like many components of this entremet.
This has 10 components:
1. Verveine Ganache Montée
2. Cremeux Fleur d'Oranger
3. Wild Strawberry Compote Jelly
4. Biscuit Cuillière
5. Strawberry Juice
6. Acidic Sablé Pressée
7. Strawberry Glaze
8. Tempered White Chocolate Piece sprayed yellow
9. Sugar Flowers
10. Candied Orange Zest + strawberries, raspberries, mint, pistachios for dressage
I couldn't sleep the night before because I was worried about the glazing and the cake's visual aesthetics. Normally I would have two cakes so I always have a back up in case I screw one up. This time however, I didn't so I only had one shot at this. I had to make sure my surrounding temperature was cold and none of that too vast a constrast in ambient temperature from fridge/freezer temperature nonsense. Checked that my glaze was a perfect consistency too and completely bubble free, shiny and smooth and there it went........ it came out good. A massive sign of relief. Not great because I'm terrible at glazing and I take each time as practice, always aiming for best results.
The flavours of this cake is so spring/summer so naturally, aside from the fact that it was meant for a girl, I had to make it look like a representation of those seasons. I had a little edible garden on top and I find it too pretty hee. I'm a sucker for flowers on cakes, really.
So here's the funny story. Remember how I said my good friend ordered it for his friend's birthday? Yeah, he lied.
Here's how it went:
I sent him photos telling him how girly the cake was and hoped that his friend (a guy) wouldn't mind. He said it was fine and laughed a little at the design. Then I kept telling him how scared I was because this is only my first test and I'm already making it for someone other than my family, I was freaked out! He encouraged me anyhow.
He arrived, picked up the cake, paid me, and left for dinner. When it was time to cut the cake, he told me no one dared to cut it. They got the kitchen staff to do it. Then he started telling me about how his daddy was a huge fan of it. And I was happy but I was wondering why the hell is the daddy at his friend's birthday dinner?
Nevermind that, then I asked him what he thought of it. He told me he really liked it. Most importantly, I asked if the birthday boy enjoyed it. And his response: "yeaaaaaah, I haven't been truthful with the cake's intention. It was for my birthday dinner :p "
I started freaking out etc etc etc. long story cut short, he and his family loved it (I hope he wasn't just being nice)
But Nathan, has always been a little oddball. The things he does, he's just funny. And I find it so apt that he got a girly cake for his birthday. No one would have better received it than him. And so, this cake that was originally called Jillian, is now called Nathan despite its looks. At least it's a pretty name.
I did a miniature version of this cake when I first started with the test just to see how it would go. And this is how it would be like for the big entremet!
This cake is both creamy and fruity at the same time which gives it a perfect balance. My sister is usually harsh when it comes to entremets but she really like this one and said it was light and had really good texture. If the sister says yes, it's normally a keeper. But this entremet for sure is a creation I'm proud of. It's been awhile since I felt this way, and I'm happy. :)
TGIF, and have a great great month of August! x