Dark chocolate lemon layer cake


RECIPE: I’ve made variations of all the components in this layer cake before, but there were a few new techniques that I thought made it worth trying. As a point of interest, I calculated the cost of the ingredients and found that I had spent about $45AUD on ingredients. It took me about six hours give or take to make it (including a bit of time when I was able to cook dinner at the same time as a component being prepared). I’m a lot slower than a professional, and bakeries obviously achieve cost/time efficiencies by making components that are used across multiple pastries, but I was actually a bit surprised at how much one of these cakes costs! I got 24 slices that were 70x30mm.

COMPONENTS: Simple things first – I knocked over the lemon syrup, the lemon curd and the lemon dark chocolate ganache a day earlier and stored them in the fridge. The syrup and the ganache involved very little technique (if you can manage boiling cream you’re fine). For some reason, despite never having a problem with curd, I was nervous about it curdling given my recent experiences with anglaise, so I took it off the stove a little early. It was just starting to thicken on the bottom of the pan, but that thickness didn’t translate fully through the full pot when I removed it from the heat. Next day, I started with the chocolate genoise sponge. I haven’t made this type of sponge before, so hadn’t experienced having to cook the eggs prior to adding other ingredients. It took quite a long time for the egg yolk mixture to start fluffing up and thicken and it was a little deceptive having a layer of foam over the still liquid egg yolks. I can only advise that you continue to whip until you achieve the ‘snail trail’ when you lift your spoon (ie. the mixture running off your spoon leaves a defined trail across the mixture in the bowl, then recombines). After overcoming that challenge, the remainder of the sponge preparation was uncomplicated. I’ve prepared dacquoise several times before, so found no difficulty with the recipe – just remember to spread the nuts on your baking sheet before piping out the meringue mixture. So – I had my first layers prepared. The ganache had to be warmed about 20 seconds in the microwave so I could stir it to a smooth consistency, and the curd, which had achieved a soft set in the fridge overnight was easy to stir until smooth. While the first layers were in the fridge I prepared the mousse, as this recipe doesn’t take to waiting around. This was another variation on a method, requiring you to make an anglaise from the egg mixture, which was then poured over the chocolate, then cooled before adding the whipped cream. The resulting mousse was absolutely delicious – so I was an instant fan of the more complicated approach (this is very surprising considering how much I fear anglaise). My anglaise worked with no curdling – amazing what consistent practice will do for you. Six recipes down, and I was making progress. The next morning I made the dark chocolate ganache glaze – I’m starting to love ganache for the ease of preparation for consistently great and tasty results. I then continued my war against chocolate by attempting to temper white chocolate for some curls as decoration. I spread the chocolate too many times in an effort to get a smooth finish and ended up ruining it. I warmed it a little, tried to smooth it out quickly, then gave up. At least the side on the plastic sheet was flat and shiny! I abandoned the mini-macarons the recipe suggested decorating with due to lack of time and the feeling that other than adding to the decoration they wouldn’t be eaten with the cake anyway so weren’t especially necessary. Six hours already! I’ve made real progress on the essential parts of cakes and pastries, but decorations are very much still in the ‘work in progress’ list.

ASSEMBLY: A layer of dacquoise, topped with the lemon chocolate ganache, a layer of sponge soaked with half the lemon syrup, a layer of lemon curd, then another layer of sponge soaked with the remaining syrup. Into the fridge to set while I made the mousse, which was then added to the top of the layered cake before popping it in the freezer to set. I left it in the freezer overnight, then added the chocolate ganache glaze that had cooled to 30 degrees Celcius. Back in the fridge, then just before serving, topped with some chocolate shards (having given up long ago on achieving anything representing a curl).

IMPRESSION: This cake was perfectly balanced because the lemon curd cut through the richness of the ganache. I loved the mousse. In the final cake, the lemon curd was a bit soft and made the layers slide once the cake had been out of the fridge for only a few minutes (a result of not cooking the curd for long enough). I’m glad I reduced the size of the pieces from the recommended 9x3cm because 7x3cm was plenty and maybe still too much for one sitting. If it didn’t take so long I’d make it again, but if I was going to invest that kind of time I’d be trying something new 🙂

Recipe from Patisserie by William and Suzue Curlew

I won’t include all the recipes because there were too many and any variation would probably do. I’ve included some detail for the lemon ganache, and the recipes for the chocolate Genoise and the dark chocolate mousse because I found the processes different.

The cake (recipe 54x9cm – I made 24x21cm) contained:
Hazelnut and almond dacquoise poured over 100g each of roasted almonds and hazelnuts
Lemon ganache (Pour 100ml boiling cream over 200g dark chocolate, then pour over 60ml hot lemon juice and 12g unsalted butter)
Chocolate Genoise sponge using the sabayon method (baked in two layers)
Lemon syrup
Lemon curd with 3g gelatine
Dark chocolate mousse (anglaise method)
Dark chocolate ganache glaze
Tempered white chocolate

Chocolate Genoise (sabayon method)
200g whole eggs (about 4 eggs)
50g egg yolks (about 2-3 eggs)
80g caster sugar
25g all-purpose flour, sifted
25g cornflour, sifted
30g cocoa powder, sifted
100g unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays of the size required for your final cake with silicone paper. The tray needs to be at least 10mm deep. Put the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a clean, sterilised bowl. Whisk over a bain-marie to 37 degrees Celcius. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and continue to whisk to ribbon stage (lift the spoon from the mixture; the egg should fall back on itself and form a trail or ‘ribbon’ across the surface, which will hold its shape for a moment, then sink back into the mix).

Carefully begin to fold the flour, cornflour and cocoa through the whisked sabayon mixture using a spatula. When the flour is three-quarters folded through, take two large scoops of the mixture and add it to the melted butter. Add the butter mixture to the base sabayon mixture and continue to fold through. Mix until the mixture is incorporated and smooth. Pour into the prepared trays and spread out evenly with a step palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until the sponge springs back when pressed gently.

Dark chocolate mousse (anglaise method)
550ml whipping cream
150ml milk
60g egg yolks (about 3 eggs)
30g caster sugar
320g dark chocolate (66% cocoa solids)

Put 150ml of the cream in a saucepan and add the milk. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until the mix becomes light in colour, about 2-3 minutes. When the milk has boiled, pour half of it onto the egg and sugar mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour this mix back into the pan with the remaining milk and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 82-84 degrees Celsius. Take the pan off the heat and pass through a fine sieve onto the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Using a spatula, mix until smooth and emulsified, then leave to cool.

Put the remaining cream in a mixing bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Alternatively, whisk in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I love your blog, it has interesting content, Thanks!


    1. rubymadeit says:

      Thanks for your comment! I try to focus on what I’m learning so it’s a little bit useful for others, and it’s also a good resource for me to go back to.


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