First Attempt

Meh. Not terrible, not great. I think I can do better. There were several problems here. First I was trying to make it in a deep pie plate instead of an aluminum tin like Lenôtre does. The upshot of that was that I needed to apply a longer shot of heat to get the cake to loosen enough to un-mold. In the sustained warmth some of the diplomat cream on the surface liquified and turned runny. So much for that variation, which is a shame since more people have pie plates than old-school foil cake pans.

Otherwise, chunks of chopped orange marred the white spaces, so I think next time I’ll reserve those for the between-the-layers filling. Last I learned a lesson in how easily ultra-thin slices of candied orange can be pushed out of shape when I add the diplomat cream. I’ll watch that next time since two of them folded over on themselves during shaping. All-in-all a less than stellar presentation. Tasted good though. More soon!

14 thoughts on “First Attempt”

  1. I was surprised the the orange slices were not as brilliant as I expected. I was thinking it would be much shinier.

    But, as is almost always the case in baking, you get to eat the ‘failures’ and learn from it. It didn’t come out of the pan nicely and a couple of slices folder over . . . oh dear, I guess you’ll just have to choke it down salted with tears 🙂

    1. lol…exactly, Frankly. Boo hoo, pass the coffee.

      But good point on the orange slices, I thought the same thing. I wonder if the liquid cream invaded them a bit and took away their luster. I’ll find out!

      – Joe

  2. i’ve made this cake often. i line the pan with saran wrap. plops right out. unpeel the plastic wrap carefully. i also make sure the orange slices that show have been soaked in syrup that’s pretty thick. you can also brush some thickened syrup on the oranges after unmolding, like glazing a fruit tart.

    1. Hey Ascanius!

      I was actually considering plastic wrap, but forgot about it. Thanks so much for bringing it up. I shall also use a heavier syrup this time. As for the shine, extra syrup makes much more sense than the apricot glaze I was considering. Great tips. Thanks very much!

      – Joe

      1. i looked at the video again. it looks to me like he’s sprayed/brushed the entire cake with neutral glaze/nappage neutre (another future project?–a lot of pastry chefs have turned away from apricot glaze because it overpowers the fruit or adds an unwanted flavor). and don’t be afraid to overlap your orange slices so less cream peeks out.

        1. More good ideas, Ascanius. I gotta know…is that your given name or are you just a classics hound?

          – J

          1. my parents wouldn’t have been that cruel! (but i’ve been reading latin and greek since middle school.)

          2. It seemed like a long shot, but I was still curious!

            – Joe

  3. It looks pretty good to me!

    I’ve been following your site for a while, and I have to admit that I’m always jealous when all of your projects turn out so “perfectly,” so it’s humbling to know that, sometimes, even you run into problems. No offense intended, of course! I’m just sayin’…:)

    1. Oh heck I have ’em all the time and am frequently not courageous enough to show them. I’ve been doing it more lately because readers (especially student readers) tell me they learn a lot from them. It makes sense, though I’d sooner project an air of perfection since it’s more pleasing to my vanity.

      – Joe

      1. My mom was a self-taught kitchen genius. Seriously, when she got married she knew zero &15 years later she was catering professionally and cooking exotic stuff from around the world. But she was always a bit uptight about cooking. It was Julia that finally set her free, she screwed up on TV and laughed it off. Seeing ‘pros’ mess up & admitting they are not perfect is a huge permission slip to dare to fail. Having that freedom allows people to do better because they can accept it does not always turn out perfect.

        I have very little respect for most of the talking heads that cook on TV. They have staffs to prep and clean up and are oh so careful to never drop the chicken on the floor like normal people do. Most of them would die in a real kitchen but they look good.

        1. She was indeed hilarious, and extremely human as you so well point out, Frankly. It’s funny that she invented so many of the conventions that many TV chefs now use to appear perfect. Somehow she split the difference between creating a good show and not showing off. What a character she was! Thanks for the comment,

          – Joe

  4. Hi Joe, in the video I watched (I can’t recall which reader posted it), Lenôtre overlapped the orange slices and he also buttered and – possibly critically – sugared the pan. I would imagine the overlapping oranges would improve the presentation, and the sugared pan might well explain the greater sparkly/shininess of the oranges. Lenôtre also candied the oranges without any added water, which might have made for a drier and more candy-like sheen on the final product.

    1. Hey Jen!

      Yes I forgot the sugar sprinkling step. Oopsie. The overlapping also only worked up to a point, but I’ll try it again on my next attempt (tomorrow). I made a thicker syrup this time, thicker than the one Lenôtre suggests in his printed recipe for this cake. We’ll see what that does. Thanks very much for all the good thinking!

      – Joe

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