Layes of sponges form the basis of many spectacular French cakes and desserts. These are known as Biscuits, which means “cooked twice”. In the past when ovens were not as efficient as they are today, the thin layers were often baked for a second time to make them firmer.
With the exception of the genoise , these layers:
1. Require no heat during their preparation.
2.Contain a high proportion of egg whites, making them light and airy.
The secret of success for perfect layers:
Have all the ingredients at room temperature before you begin, take the eggs out of the fridge at least 2 hours ahead.
The egg whites must be thoroughly whisked, but not until they are very stiff and dry. They should hold their shape in stiff peaks, so they can fold easily into the batter. This ensures the sponges will rise well in the oven and has a soft light texture.
Ladyfingers are called biscuits ala cuillere in French-cuillere meaning spoon, as in the past they were shaped with a spoon. The practice of piping them using a pastry bag only began in 1820.
How to check if the ladyfingers are properly cooked
As ladyfingers are dusted with confectioners sugar it is not always easy to check the sponge is fully baked by just looking at the tops. The best way is to carefully lift the parchment and peep underneath. If the sponge is golden, it is ready.
Why my ladyfingers are crumbly
Take care not to over bake as the ladyfingers will quickly become crumbly.
A cake or meringue layer????
Dacquois are residents of the town of Dax in southwest France and they have given their name to this classic cake, but dacquoise refers to the name of the base layers of nut meringue used to make the cake as well.The cake is also known as Palois, a reference to the inhabitants of the nearby city of Pau, in the same region. The meringue layers are sandwiched with buttercream and then dusted with confectioners sugar.
Adding extra flavour to a Dacquoise
For a fuller flavour, roast the ground nuts(hazelnut or almond) before folding them into the batter.
You can bake genoise sponge batter on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or in a round cake pan and cut it into thin layers once it has cooled.
If baking your genoise on a lined baking sheet, as soon as it is ready, slide it carefully onto a wire rack, still on the parchment, and let it cool completely. This will make sponges easier to handle and to peel off the paper, without damaging its thin, golden crust.
Remember to stick the parchment paper with some batter to the pan
Parchment paper used to line a baking sheet can blow around in the oven so needs sticking to the sheet to hold it in place. The easiest way is to dab a little batter at each corner of the parchment and place it upside down on the sheet-the batter will act as the ideal glue and its food safe and heat proof!!!!
|Type Of Sponges||Uses||Storage||Advantages|
|Joconde sponge||Layered desserts, yule logs and other rolled cakes, opera||Covered in plastic wrap. 3 days in refrigerator. 2 weeks in freezer||Good for imprinting with decorative patterns|
|Genoise||Rolled cakes, strawberry layer cakes,mocha layer cake etc||Covered in plastic wrap. 3 days in refrigerator. 2 weeks in freezer||Easy to make suitable for drizzling with syrup|
|Ladyfingers||Charlottes, tiramisu, strawberry layer cake, etc.||Covered in plastic wrap. 1-2 days in airtight container||Soft texture, good for moistening with syrup|
|Dacquoise||Layered desserts, yule logs and other rolled cakes etc.||Covered in plastic wrap. 3 days in refrigerator. 2 weeks in freezer||Gluten free, slightly crunchy texture. Can be made using any nuts(walnuts, pistachios etc)|
|Flourless chocolate sponge||Jelly rolls, yule logs, layered desserts, etc.||Covered in plastic wrap. 3 days in refrigerator. 2 weeks in freezer||Gluten free|