Week 70: Chocolate and orange mousse cake

I am a HUGE fan of The Great British Bake Off, and I mean, HUGE. I must have watched every season at least 3 times, and some episodes even more! In fact, it was one of the thing that got my baking in the first place (together with the rainbow cake story). And ask any GBBO fan, they are bound to have their favourites. While Mary-Anne may not be my most favourite baker, she was definitely one that I was rooting for and there’s just something about her nonchalant composure and unconventional techniques that made her one of the coolest contestant out there, So, I have been following her blog and have been wanting to make this chocolate and orange mousse cake for the longest time. But, I somehow only managed to get to it now, for whatever reason. Still, better late than never, right?

Bear in mind, this is not an easy cake. After all, it appeared in the bake-off series, and received glowing praises from both Paul and Mary. There are multiple components involved, and I made full portions for the joconde décor paste and the mousse, as I was planning to freeze the paste for future cakes, and the mousse, well, you can never have too much mousse (although in this case, you could, and I only used half the portion for the 6 cakes below). Don’t be daunted by it though. Once you break it down by components, they are actually quite simple.

Makes 6 8 cm x 4.5H cm round cakes

For the joconde décor paste (enough for 12 cakes)

100g unsalted butter, softened

100g icing sugar, sifted

100g egg whites

110g plain flour

orange food colouring

1) Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then gradually add the egg whites, beating continuously.

2) Fold in the sifted flour and beat until the paste is smooth.

3) For 6 cakes, add gel colouring to half the portion and freeze the other half.

4) Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted and snip off a small tip. The paste is quite firm.

5) Pipe the mixture onto the baking trays greased and lined with parchment in a swirl pattern and place in the freezer to harden.

For the joconde sponge

90g egg whites, at room temperature

13g granulated sugar

113g ground almonds, sifted

113g icing sugar, sifted

3 large eggs

20g plain flour, sifted

20g cocoa powder, sifted

85g clarified butter, melted

1) Preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C fan

2) Beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs in the bowl for 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3) Turn the speed down to low and mix in the flour and cocoa powder.

4) In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

5) Add the granulated sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks are formed.

6) Gently fold the meringue mixture into the almond and flour mixture using a large spatula.

7) Put the melted butter in a small bowl and mix in a cupful of the sponge batter. Pour this back into the mixing bowl and gently fold into the rest of batter.

8) Remove the baking trays with the decor paste from the freezer. I used 2 trays, a bigger one at 24 cm x 36 cm and a smaller one at 20 cm x 29 cm.

9) Divide the batter between the two baking trays, it should just cover the piped décor paste. Smooth the batter over the decorations and into the corners ensuring it is level.

10) Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the sponges are cooked and springy to the touch and have shrunk away from the edges of the pan.

11) Turn out by covering the sponge with a sheet of parchment then flip the baking tray over onto the work surface. Peel off the paper to reveal the pattern, and lay it lightly on top of the sponge. Leave to cool.

For the chocolate and orange mousse (enough for 12 cakes)

1 orange, zest and juice

1 tsp powdered gelatine

175g dark (70%+) chocolate, melted

2 large eggs, separated

30g granulated sugar

300ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks

1) Pour the juice from the orange through a fine sieve into a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. I used 60g of orange juice, Set the mixture aside for three minutes then place the bowl over a small pan of simmering water, taking care the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and stir gently until the gelatine has dissolved.

2) Mix the orange zest and egg yolks into the melted chocolate, then stir in the gelatine mixture and fold in the whipped cream.

3) Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until they form stiff peaks then gently fold into the chocolate mixture.

For the orange gelée

150ml orange juice

1.5 sheets gelatine

1) Cut the gelatine sheets into small pieces and put into a bowl. Add 30ml of orange juice from the 150ml and leave for 10 minutes while the gelatine swells.

2) Heat very gently in a saucepan until the gelatine has dissolved, then stir in the rest of the orange juice.

3) Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Don’t skip the cooling. If you try and pour the orange gelee over the cake before it has cooled and thickened slightly, it will just soak into the sponge.

4) I re-used the cake rings, lined with acetate, with the top piece of the cake placed at the bottom of the ring,

5) When the orange mix has cooled and is beginning to thicken, remove the prepared cake rings and carefully pour the orange mixture over the top of the cake and return to the fridge to set (2 hours)

To assemble

1) Using a ruler carefully cut out 6 strips of cake to fit around the cake rings. Then cut out 6 pieces of cake using the 8 cm diameter cake ring. These be used as the top piece (which will be covered with gélee). Then cut out another 6 rounds of 6 cm diameter cakes. These will be the bottom piece and will fit inside the lined cake rings.

2) Make sure the cake strips are facing outwards when lining the cake rings. There is no need to line the cake ring. Then insert the bottom piece.

3) Pour the mousse into the lined cake rings and level the top, before covering it with the top piece. (I have to work separately to cover the top piece with gélee before putting it on the mousse as my cake rings are only 4 cm in height and the top piece would have been sitting on top of the ring.)

4) Leave the cake to chill in the freezer for at least 2 hours before removing from the cake rings.

5) To decorate, I piped a small mound of chocolate ganache (I had leftovers but really, you can use anything you have on hand, and if you don’t have anything, just whip up some heavy cream) in the middle of each cake and topped it with a piece of candied orange peel.

As I had the luxury of time, I made this across the span of 2 days. On the first day, I prepared the joconde décor paste and piped it on the baking tray. And left it to freeze overnight. I also prepared the clarified butter, as well as the orange peel. I usually make a big batch of candied peels and freeze them. They keep forever!

On the second day, I prepared the sponge. Lined the cake rings. And leave those in the freezer while I prepare the mousse. When the mousse is set, I removed them from cake rings (because I don’t have that many) and use it to prepare the top piece for the gélee layer. Once that is done, I use some of the leftover mousse (which is not frozen) and stick the top piece of cake onto the frozen joconde-lined mousse.

Just a note. This recipe uses the raw eggs method for the mousse, I was a little apprehensive at first, but, honestly, you can’t tell (I tested this on many people and no one could tell). But if there is a dietary constraint (pregnant women or young children), this may not be appropriate. Which, is a real pity – because they are delicious!

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