A Beautifully Simple Way to Decorate a Cake

There is more to making a cake than simply putting together a recipe and throwing it in the oven. In fact, unless you are decorating the cake properly, you are really leaving most of the method on the table. After all, the real cake is not just about the taste and the texture, it is all about the presentation. Unfortunately, up until now, many of us struggled to put the finishing touches on the cake properly.

If you are someone that has had a problem with decorating a cake, your life is about to get a whole lot easier. This method is not about having all of the right (and expensive) tools, it is about knowing the method and putting it into practice. Once you see it for yourself, you will never go back to a “normal” cake again.

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This is a French method known as the joconde sponge. It is not only simple, it is quite easy and will end with perfect icing each and every time. Just learn the little steps (there are a bunch) and you will be on your way to better cakes.

INGREDIENTS
– 2 oz/60 grams egg whites (room temp is ideal)
– 2 oz/60 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
– 2 oz/60 grams granulated sugar
– 2 oz/60 grams melted butter, cooled
– Gel food color as desired
– 6 egg whites (aprox. 180 grams), at room temperature
– 1 oz/ 30 grams granulated sugar
– 8 oz/240 grams almond meal
– 8 oz/240 grams powdered sugar
– 6 eggs, at room temperature
– 2.5 oz./75 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
– 1.5 oz/45 grams melted butter, cooled

DIRECTIONS

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl using a whisk, until totally smooth and no lumps remain. Add food coloring to achieve your desired shade.
2. Using a stencil or working free-hand, create your design with your tuile paste on a Silpat, then slide it onto a sheet pan to keep it flat. Pop the whole thing into the freezer as you prepare your joconde.
3. Set the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5 (350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4 if you’re using a convection oven)
4. Start by making a meringue with the first two ingredients.
5. Put the 6 egg whites/180 grams egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
6. Make sure the bowl and whip are super clean, or else your meringue won’t whip up well.
7. Start the mixer on medium speed and let the whites whip until they’re all foamy across the top. At this point, start sprinkling the granulated sugar in, turn the mixer up to high and whip those whites and sugar to the stiff peak stage.
8. Dump that meringue into a large mixing bowl and set aside for now.
9. Sift the almond meal, powdered sugar and whole eggs into the same bowl of the mixer, but fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.
10. Mix the meal, sugar and eggs on low until incorporated, stop the machine scrape down the mix, then the machine back on to ‘high’ and let mix until doubled in size and it turns pale. This will take about 5–7 minutes.
11. When the mix has doubled in size and it turns pale, turn the mixer back down to low, and add the flour and melted butter, stirring just until incorporated then turn the machine off.
12. Using a large spatula or mixing spoon, scoop about 1/4- 1/3 of the meringue into the meal/sugar/egg mix and fold together. It’s not crucial to be super gentle here. Working in two more batches, gently fold the meringue into the egg mix, until no streaks remain.
13. Add food color now and fold gently until incorporated.
14. Pull the sheet pan with the now-frozen tuile design from the freezer and pour your cake batter over the top straight away.
15. Put the cake into the preheated oven and bake until just done. You want to avoid browning if you can here. It should take around 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness by feeling the center of the cake. It should set, not wet.
16. Pull the cake and let cool for just a couple of minutes before turning it out, so that it can cool outside of the pan.
17. Using a knife or spatula, completely loosen the all of the edges and corners of the cake from the pan.
18. In one swift movement, flip the pan over onto a piece of parchment laid out on the work surface.
19. Gently peel back the Silpat, and slide the cake and parchment onto a wire rack to cool for at least another 10–15 minutes.
20. You can work with the joconde while it’s still slightly warm – just work with it carefully.

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