I don’t have much experience making birthday cakes. In retrospect, with a lot of apples to use up I should have made an apple pie. But my new bright blue silicone génoise mold looked awfully fun to play with. And so, without further thought, I set off on a quest to make a “gâteau roulé” for our little one’s birthday.
To make a “génoise” start with 4 fresh (ideally free-range) eggs and 140 grams of sugar. Beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture starts to form little peaks on your beaters. Patience, this takes time! I stood with my beater for a good ten minutes until my egg and sugar mixture nearly tripled in volume. Then gently fold in 140 grams of cake flour with a spatula until well mixed.
This is where I got a little over-ambitious. You see, I had seen on “Le Meilleur Patissier” (France’s version of Masterchef) the contestants had made their génoise with different designs in it, or even writing. So I took some of my génoise and mixed in a little cocoa powder to change the color. I then put it in a piping tube and wrote “Happy Birthday” on the silicone mat. I even wrote the letters in mirror-images so that when unrolled they would read the right way. Then I needed to fill in the rest of the mat with the regular mix. Instead of piping this in with another piping tube, I patted it onto the mat with a spatula. Big mistake. My happy birthday words were smudged and smeared. I realized I had messed up, but decided to continue anyway. It would still taste good, right? I popped the mat into the oven at 180C (350F) for 5 minutes until the top started to turn brown. I was afraid it was not cooked when I first took it out, but it was important not to over-cook the génoise because then it would be impossible to get out of the mat. As long as the top has started to turn brown, you should be good to go.
I let the génoise cool to room temperature while I started the “marron” (chestnut), cocoa and ricotta frosting. See recipe below. Once cooled I spread on the icing over the entire surface of the génoise. There was just enough!
And then added fresh pear slices.
I detached all of the sides of the cake and then gently rolled it up kind of like one big sushi roll (those will be featured tomorrow!) The frosting/filling was light and the génoise soft and airy. The pears added a nice juicy freshness. Little man said “moo” when he saw it, and so it became the “spotted cow” birthday cake. We sure did enjoy it, especially in the company of grandpa, or “Papi” as he’s called. Happy Birthday to our little one!
Spotted Cow Génoise aux Marrons, Cocoa et Ricotta
4 free-range eggs
140 grams sugar
140 grams cake flour
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
1/2 cup cooked chestnuts, Matiz sells Organic Cooked Chestnuts
2 tablespoons Van Hooten cocoa or you can use Valrhona 100% Pure Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup “sucre glacé” (confectioners sugar), add more or less according to taste
2 ripe pears
Beat 4 eggs with 140 grams of sugar with an electric beater. After around 5-10 minutes of beating the egg/sugar mixture should have tripled in volume and the batter should form soft peaks. Add in 140 grams of cake flour and mix well. Pour into a silicone génoise mat and cook at 180C (350F) for 5 minutes until the top starts to turn golden brown. Don’t overcook or the génoise will not unroll easily. Set aside and let cool completely.
In a mixing bowl, mix in the butter, ricotta, chestnuts, cocoa powder and sugar. Blend until smooth. Use a spatula to spread frosting over the entire surface of the génoise. Cover with thin pear slices.
Gently detach the sides and corners of the génoise from the mat and roll up tightly. Transfer to a serving platter and trim off each of the sides.
Note: A lot of my recipes might use grams to measure things. I know this is not the custom in the US, but it is not difficult to use them. You just need a little electronic scale. This one from Amazon would do, for example:
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