Friday 26 May 2017

Joconde Sponge Slices

I never intended to completely finish this one, however once I'd done the sponge and icing, it seemed a no-brainer to whip up some ganache and cover it. If I had some jam or fruit to hand, I reckon it would have been a complete it is, it's just short.

I did this to have a go at 2 things;
1) Joconde sponge - this is used an awful lot in "professional" seems to have a variety of names and definitions, and is also associated with a form of decoration (where a paste is made, and used to form decorations before the cake is baked), but at it's core it is an almond-based cake that is light, but does not overly rise, and cuts cleanly. It uses a lot of egg!

2) Creme au Beurre - ala french buttercream. I've tried this before, with less than stellar results...looking back at my notes there I'm pretty sure that the sugar syrup was too hot (it was before I religiously used a temperature probe, and the recipe I followed didn't provide temperatures). It's a popular combination with joconde sponge, as that uses egg whites, and this uses egg yolks (so it's like lemon curd and meringue pie...a glorious symbiosis of ingredients to use the entire egg).

Joconde has (for a cake) quite a high prep time (having everything weighed out and ready in ramekins helps no end), however it bakes really quickly, and is indeed very good to handle. I'm actually planning on doing a full recipe with this at the weekend, and this has given me a lot of confidence. The filling came out pretty well too, so I'm reasonably sure that last time I had the sugar syrup at far too high a temperature.

Joconde Sponge Slices - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 200'C
  • Grease and line a 30cm x 20cm swiss roll tin with baking parchment


  • 3 egg whites (save the yolks)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30g flour
  • 30g butter
  • ½tsp almond essence
1) Place the butter in a small microwaveable bowl

2) Melt it in the microwave (I do 10-second bursts and then stir...repeating until it has just melted)

3) Place the egg whites in a large bowl

4) Using a hand mixer, whisk until soft peaks are formed

5) Add the caster sugar, and continue to whisk until you have a glossy meringue

6) Place the icing sugar, almonds, essence and whole eggs in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment

7) Whisk for 3-4 minutes, until smooth, and roughly doubled in volume

8) Sieve the flour into the mixture, and fold in gently

9) Fold the meringue in, splitting the batch into 3. You're aiming to remove all the large lumps and have a smooth mixture, while retaining as much air as possible. Patience is key!

10) Add the melted butter around the outside of the bowl, and fold in

11) Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared swiss-roll tin, tipping it gently to fill all the corners evenly

12) Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes, until the top is just golden, and it's firm and spongy to the touch

13) Remove to a wire rack, turn out, remove the paper and allow to cool

Creme au Beurre Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g room temperature butter (must be soft!)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
1) Place the egg yolks in a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Have a electric hand whisk ready, and I suggest placing the bowl on a damp cloth to hold it in place

2) Place the sugar in a small, very clean saucepan, and add ~45ml of water

3) Gently heat the sugar mixture until all the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil

4) Boil until the mixture reaches 110'C

5) Start to whisk the egg yolks, and pour the sugar syrup in slowly while whisking (you're looking to hit the egg yolks with the stream of syrup...if you hit the bowl it will probably set!)

6) Continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy

7) Start adding the butter slowly, piece by piece, while continuing to whisk


1) Slice the sponge in half lengthwise, to give you 2 30cm x 10cm strips

2) Put about 60% of the icing on top of one slice, and spread evenly using a small pallete knife

3) Place the second sponge layer on top, and clean up the join

4) Take the rest of the icing, and put a thin coat on all sides of the cake, and on top, smoothing as much as possible

5) Using a large palette knife, transfer to a clean cake board, and place in the fridge to chill

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

  • 100g plain (50%) chocolate
  • 65g milk
  • 30g butter
1) Place the chocolate and milk in a small microwaveable bowl

2) Heat in the oven for 10 seconds, then stir copiously. Repeat this until all the chocolate has just melted (the stirring is vitally important, as if the temperature in the ganache varies, it will split)

3) Add the butter and stir until dissolved

4) Leave to cool until the mixture thickens. You want it to be at a consistency that it can be spread

5) Take the cake out of the fridge

6) Pour the ganache evenly over the cake top

7) Using a small palette knife, level the ganache, and also coat the sides, smoothing as much as possible

8) Using a damp cloth, clean any marks from the cake board