After the success of my Paris-Brest the day before, I was both stoked as well as nervous about making the Moka. The Moka is a traditional French gâteau. It is coffee-flavoured and doesn’t have any chocolate in it. Why is called mocha then? Is the single chocolate-covered coffee bean enough to warrant it’s name? It should just be called gâteau au café, no?
Chef Olivier brought us through the demo class. He made three cakes in the three hours. The Moka is made of three layers of génoise imbibed in coffee syrup, and frosted with coffee-flavoured French buttercream. The sides are then covered with caramelised almonds. This was the first time we would be using our thermometers for practical. I use thermometers at home for making buttercream, so this was not new to me. However, we were using it for the syrup, for the final temperature of the “sabayon” and the buttercream. This was the most technical recipe thus far. Anything and everything could go wrong. From the whipping of the batter for the genoise, to the buttercream, to the almonds, to the piping.
We had to whip the genoise batter sufficiently, otherwise we wouldn’t have tall enough a cake to cut three layers from. Mine barely made it, but I know there were some others who hardly had a third layer. The next component I was worried about was the buttercream. I was a little slower than the majority (as usual), so almost everyone around me didn’t have sufficient buttercream to fill and frost their cakes. We all had the same recipe, so once again it came down to how much volume we were able to incorporate while whipping. This was challenging because we had to whisk vigorously for an extended amount of time. My arms were so tired. I blame my height. If only I were taller, or had a stool!
Fortunately, I had enough buttercream to both fill and frost my cake. Chef had to make extra buttercream for the rest, but because he didn’t have the time to make it the same way as ours, it came out really pale, unlike our buttercream which was a darker brown. I was able to pipe my shell border rather decently. Glad all that frosting cake back home helped again. The thing I did struggle with was making the pattern on the top of the cake with the serrated knife. It didn’t come out like how Chef Olivier showed us. Mine had larger chevrons and definitely wasn’t regular like his.
A pretty ok job I believe. When Chef was evaluating our cakes, he made us cut out a slice to see the interior. He told me that I hadn’t imbibed the genoise enough with syrup; that I should brush both sides of the sponge with coffee syrup. However, this was not how we were taught in demo, so once again, the chefs weren’t on the same page. However, someone told him at the end that the demo chef didn’t do that, and even showed him a photo of the cake from demo. So he understood why everyone’s cake was not well imbibed. I didn’t particularly like this cake very much because it’s a little too sweet. Maybe less syrup was a good thing. Or maybe don’t caramelised the almonds. French buttercream is also very rich because it is made out of egg yolks, unlike Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream, which are made out of egg whites.
The course is definitely getting more interesting and challenging. I can’t imagine we started with diamants and in a span of less than two weeks, we are already making such elaborate things. In the next couple of weeks, we will be making super fancy stuff like charlottes which I’ve never made before. I really can’t wait. I’m not as tired as I was last week too. I think I’ve gotten used to the hours and the intensity of it.
In the past week, the weather has really become much warmer. It is finally summer in Paris and I am both loving and hating it. Mornings are cool, and I can walk to school comfortably but once it’s the afternoon, I am literally perspiring after a minute or two of walking in the sun. The week before, I was cold and miserable at night, especially the two days the water heater wasn’t working and I was dying in the shower. I didn’t have warm enough clothes for sleeping and my feet were cold and clammy. Now, all I want to do is wear a tank top, shorts and slippers when I go out!
Today is Sunday and I met Léa, whom I met in Graz while on exchange. We had really delicious French galettes (not the pie but crêpe) at La Crêperie de Josselin. I forgot to take photos but it didn’t look very appetising anyway. I ordered the original and it was such a generous portion that I think I only finished slightly over half of it. The original is filled with ham, cheese, eggs and mushroom. It was très délicieux! It was great catching up. Exchange is really a wonderful thing. You get to meet such amazing people and you still meet up whenever you’re in their homeland.
I’m going to enjoy my Sunday alone. I did my laundry, vacuumed the floor and for the first time in my life, I cleaned the toilet. I know, I’ve been pampered. Tonight is the Euro finals and I’m pretty sure the whole city will be going crazy. I already saw lots of people in their jerseys and flags on the streets. Will try to go for a run along the Seine later too and see what’s happening around here!