This week’s project: Marjolaine

I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is that? It’s a fair question, since Marjolaine is one of the dark horses of the pastry world, not often spoken of, rarely served (at least in this country), but a certified winner nonetheless. Its name means “sweet marjoram”, but doesn’t it just figure that not only does it not have any marjoram in it, it bears no resemblance to the plant, the leaf or the flower. But it sounds nice.

Marjolaine is an oblong, loaf-like pastry made up of four layers of sponge cake, between which are sandwiched three layers of filling: one of ganache and two of pastry cream. But while those might be the general rules, there are literally dozens of different interpretations. Some bakers swap out sheets of crisp meringe for the sponge cake, others replace the pastry creams with buttercream, and as for the flavoring of those creams, they can be just about anything (though usually at least one of the layers is nut-flavored). As for the exterior, it can be coated with chocolate, nuts, dusted with powdered sugar, or presented au naturale to show off its many layers.

Having sifted through over a dozen different recipes, I’ve arrived at what I believe will be, if not a completely faithful reproduction of the original, a strong representation of the spirit of it. Anyway it’ll be mine, and hopefully that’s enough.

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