Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Julia Child´s VIP cake + Cooking the chef challenge (la receta disponible en español también)

I am participating in Julia Child challenge organised by "COOKING THE CHEF ", hence the last couple of weeks Julia Child was quite present in my life. It was quite an experience to watch her videos, which were very educative but also very very amusing. I firstly got to know about Julia Child couple of years ago, when I watched the movie "Julie & Julia". After the movie French cooking became even more interesting, which till then seems to be quite complex and difficult. As Julia Child would always say, French cooking does not have to be scary at all...you shall just try it till you will get to perfection. I truly believe this, not wanted to say that the recipes are all simple and quick to make, but with some practise you will get there and will be very pleased with the outcome. Today I am going to share the famous Julia Child VIP cake (Cake Le Brantome - walnut cake). She calls it VIP cake, as this cake is quite special and should be served for special guests and with Champagne when it comes to Julia Child (Please check for video here). I served the cake for my very special boys (my husband and son), without the Champagne thought and do understand now, why she named it the VIP cake. There is a lot of beating and folding involved, I have to admit that, but the outcome is just heaven. Being such a success with my boys, I made another cake for yesterday´s family getting together and did certainly get the expected reaction. It was a big success and this cake will be certainly done for many other occasions in our family in the future.

Brandy Butter Filling
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons brandy, cognac or Armagnac
  • 8 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, in all
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 200 g sugar
  • Pinch of salt
Beat the egg, brandy, 2 tablespoons of the butter, cornstarch and sugar together in a small saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to boil stirring constantly. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter (spoon wise). Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate till cooled down (overnight).
Julia Child´s VIP Cake
I adjusted the ingredients to a smaller size cake (15 cm baking form).
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 160 g walnuts, ground to a powder
  • 150 g all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 250 ml cold heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and flour your baking form. Start beating the eggs, gradually adding the sugar. Beat on a high speed for at least 5 minutes, till the mixture have doubled in size and is pale in the colour, mix in salt and vanilla. In a separate bowl whisk the double cream till you will get soft peaks...it should be the same consistency as the egg-sugar mixture, do not over beat the cream. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add about a quarter of flour to the egg-sugar mixture and fold it in carefully with a large spatula. Add another quarter of the flour and process as before. Put some tablespoons of grounded walnuts aside, which you will use later for decorating. Now add the whipped cream and about 1/3 of the grounded walnuts, repeat the folding steps till all dry ingredients are used. Be gentle with the folding, trying not to break to much air of the egg-sugar mixture. At this point you can either divide the batter in two baking pans (as originally done) or put it all at once in one baking pan (as I did). If you are going to use 2 pans, bake the cake about 25 minutes, if you are using all the batter at once it will take about 35-40 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes at the cooling rack. Take the cake out of the baking pan and let it cool completely. 
Icing sugar frosting
  • 5-6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • egg white
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat till all well combined, with soft peaks and being shiny.
Assembling the cake: Cut the cake in 2 or 3 equally layers if you bake the cake in one baking pan (my cake went up quite significantly so I could cut the cake in 3 layers). Spread a good amount of the brandy butter filling on the first layer and top it with the second one (do the same step if you have 3 layers). Cover the top layer with icing sugar frosting. Now you can use apricot jam glaze (heat up some tablespoons of apricot jam with water and let is bubble away for 1 or 2 minutes) or you use the remaining brandy butter filling (as I did) to glaze the sides of the cake to be able to stick the grounded walnuts on it. Finally decorate the cake with some chocolate sprinkles.



Relleno de mantequilla y Brandy
  • 1 huevo grande
  • 3 cucharadas soperas de brandy, coñac o Armagnac
  • 8 cucharadas soperas de mantequilla sin sal a temperatura ambiente
  • 1 y 1/2 cucharada de café de fécula de maíz
  • 1 taza de azúcar
  • 1 pizca de sal

Batir el huevo, el brandy, 2 cucharadas de mantequilla, la maicena y el azúcar en una cacerola pequeña. Poner la sartén a fuego medio y dejar hervir removiendo constantemente. Cocinar de 2 a 3 minutos. Retirar la cacerola del fuego y batir el contenido añadiéndole las 6 cucharadas restantes de mantequilla. Enfriar a temperatura ambiente, después cubrir y dejar refrigerar toda la noche.

Julia y complementos Cake VIP
Ajuste de los ingredientes para una tarta de tamaño más pequeño (aproximadamente de 15 cm)
  • 2 huevos grandes
  • 150 g de azúcar
  • 1 pizca de sal
  • 2 cucharadas de café de extracto de vainilla pura
  • 150 g de nueces, moler hasta convertir en polvo
  • 150 g de harina
  • 1 y 1/2 cucharada de café de levadura
  • 200 ml de nata para montar fría

Precalentar el horno a 180°C, bañar el molde con mantequilla y después espolvorear un poco de harina. Empezar batiendo los huevos y añadiendo el azúcar, poco a poco. Batir a una velocidad alta durante al menos 5 minutos, hasta que la mezcla haya duplicado su tamaño y tenga un color pálido. A continuación añadir sal y vainilla. En un bol distinto batir la crema hasta obtener una textura espesa, similar a la consistencia de la mezcla de huevo y azúcar, poner atención en no batir demasiado la crema. Tamizar juntos la harina y la levadura. Añadir de una cuarta parte de harina a la mezcla de huevo y azúcar, incorporar con una espátula grande cuidadosamente. Añadir otro cuarto de la harina y repetir el proceso. Separar 2/3 del polvo de nueces que va a utilizar para decorar en la última etapa. Ahora agregar la crema batida y alrededor de 1/3 de las nueces, repitiendo los pasos de mezclado hasta que se utilicen todos los ingredientes secos. Hacerlo a modo lento, tratando de no romper la textura y que destruyan las burbujas de aire de la mezcla de huevo y azúcar. En este punto se puede dividir la masa en dos moldes para hornear (como se hizo originalmente) o ponerlo todo en un solo molde para hornear (como en mi caso). Si se van a utilizar 2 moldes, dejar hornear el pastel durante unos 25 minutos, sopor el contrario se utiliza toda la masa a la vez, el horneado durará unos 35 - 40 minutos. Sacar el pastel del horno y dejar reposar durante al menos 10 minutos en la rejilla para enfriar. Sacar la tarta del molde y dejar que se enfríe completamente.

Frosting
  • 5-6 cucharadas soperas de azúcar en polvo
  • 1 clara de huevo
  • 2 cucharadas de café de zumo de limón

Poner todos los ingredientes en un bol y batir hasta que todo esté bien mezclado y brillante.

Montaje del pastel: Cortar el pastel en 2 o 3 capas iguales si se horneó en un único molde (mi pastel subió de forma significativa para poder cortarlo en 3 capas). Extender una buena cantidad del relleno de brandy en el primer nivel, montar el segundo y extender nuevamente el relleno en la parte superior (repetir operación si existiese un tercer nivel). Cubrir la capa superior con el frosting. Si se desea se puede enfundar los lados de la tarta con mermelada de albaricoque (calentar algunas cucharadas de mermelada de albaricoque con agua y dejar hervir durante 1 o 2 minutos) o utilizar el relleno de brandy restante (como yo) extendiéndolo por los lados de la tarta para pegar los de nueces que quedaban. Por último decorar el pastel con algunas virutas de chocolate.

Enjoy!

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