05 February 2007

The ultimate cake

Hermè cake close up

I really have to say it: he’s the best, without any doubt, with no regrets and no reserves… I own three of his books, made two of his recipes and I’ve never read in my life something better explained, with all the passages made clear, with all the instruments you have to use and when, all the ingredients precisely indicated…
I would go on and on for days, but I don’t want to bother you…
Pierre Hermé is just fantastic! I haven’t yet found the courage to try one of the recipes on PH10, mainly because some ingredients are strictly seasonal or difficult to find in Italy or on big surfaces, but the recipes on Secrets Gourmands are just incredible!
Take for example this cake. Normally for a plum cake you mix all the ingredients together and away in the oven. Here no! You make your own almond paste, you use a semi professional kneader to assemble everything (and he doesn’t just tell you to turn it on! No: he tells you which accessory to use, when and at which speed!) and then you cook it. Fate wanted my little grinder to brake just today, so I cut the chocolate in the way he instruct it, and I have to say, it made the difference!!!
If you follow each and every word he writes, success is knocking on your door. Of course if you never baked in the whole of your life, well, leave the book on the shelf… But if you normally bake, well, he wrote the new millennium pâtisserie bibles… And I’m not a religious person!!!
The problem is that I’m quite “embarrassed” to re-write one of his recipe: I will never master its perfection…

For the almond paste
100 g of almonds, refrigerated for 1 night
15 g of egg whites
90 g of sugar

Blend all the ingredients until you obtain a smooth paste.

For the cake
140 g of almond paste
165 g of sugar
4 eggs
1,5 dl of milk
40 g of cocoa
180 g of flour
1 teaspoon of chemical yeast
80 g of diced chocolate
60 g of hazelnut, toasted and roughly minced
55 g of almonds, toasted and roughly minced
55 g of pistachios
180 g of cold melted butter

In a big kneader bowl, knead, al medium speed and with the k utensil, almond paste and sugar until you have crumbles. Add one by one the eggs and when everything is assembled, substitute the k utensil with the whisk and whisk at maximum speed for 10 minutes.
Lower the speed to minimum and add cocoa, flour and yeast. With a spoon add then chocolate, hazelnut, almonds, pistachios and butter.

Bake in a preheated oven, at 180° C, in a cake pan 28 cm long, for at least 1 hour. After 15 minutes, when a think crust will form over the cake, groove a straight line in the centre, with a knife.

Let it cool, then unmould.

Hermè cake