Throughout the centuries, bakers have created an incredible array of pastries and sweets since first developing them in ancient Egypt. The drift of products from region to region has helped create “product extensions” and new product identities. Consider the regional specialties and variations of brioche. Similar regional varieties exist for meringue (French, Italian, Swiss) with numerous variations of the basic preparation. Dacquoise is a regional (Dax, France) extension of the French meringue and is often used as a component in Europeanstyle cakes and pastries, but it also can be used to create an interesting and contemporary variation of the loaf cake, such as this lemon hazelnut dacquoise.
Dacquoise is a variant of the pâte à succès/progrès (almond/hazelnut) and is markedly different by its use of wheat flour and nut meal. Basic formulation of a French meringue can range from a 2:1 to a 1:1 ratio of sugar to egg whites. The dacquoise formulation includes egg whites, sugar, flour and nut meal (typically hazelnut, almond or a combination of the two). Depending on how the product is deposited and baked, it can be soft and cake-like or crisp like a meringue.
In general terms, meringue is egg whites and sugar whipped to a certain degree of stiffness (soft, medium or stiff peak). The amount of mixing for meringue is guided by the ratio of sugar to egg whites and the method of preparation. When mixing to a stiff peak, the ratio of sugar to egg whites is often closer to 1:1.
Many prefer to use fresh egg whites, but good meringue can be made with pasteurized bulk egg whites or even powdered egg whites. All equipment that comes in contact with the egg whites must be free of fat, as this will inhibit the ability to achieve a stable, stiff peak.
Several methods can be used to make French meringue. To make the meringue for the lemon hazelnut dacquoise, the egg whites should be 60°F to 65°F to achieve maximum volume. Colder whites will result in a denser meringue. Whip the egg whites on medium speed with onethird of the sugar. This initial quantity of sugar aids in stabilizing the foam without inhibiting its development. Once the foam reaches medium/ medium-stiff peaks, increase the mixing speed and gradually add the remaining sugar. Mix until stiff peaks form. Once the meringue is mixed, it should be used immediately. If it can’t be used right away, keep mixing on slow/low speed.
The elaboration of the dacquoise from the meringue base is the same as folding the dry ingredients into an egg foam cake. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, and gently and efficiently fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. The goal is to balance the time and motion of folding so the foam does not lose too many air bubbles–the primary source of leavening for the formula. Once mixed, the batter should be deposited right away.
This cake has specific handling conditions that vary slightly from normal methods. The finished product contains two cake elements–the dacquoise and the fat-based lemon cake. In order to achieve the clean cross section, the lemon cake batter must be prepared ahead of time and frozen. It is then used as an insert into the dacquoise. Once the cake is assembled, let it set for 30 minutes before baking to allow the lemon center to thaw.
The versatile egg foam is the basis for this lemon hazelnut cake, which is somewhat similar to the familiar loaf cake. With these basic concepts the flavors can be adjusted, nut meals swapped out and the possibilities become even more vast. Combine this with different types and sizes of pans and this master formula can be used throughout the year to add variety and visual flair to any pastry lineup.
Brian Wood is the founder of Baking and Pastry Solutions, a company focused on assisting baking and pastry operations with product development, employee training and more. To learn more, visit www.tourrier.com or email email@example.com.
|Lemon hazelnut dacquoise|
|Vanilla bean paste||8 g||0.26||3|
|Total appr. wt.||451 g||15.87||180|
Method: Cook the sugar, water and vanilla paste to 240°F (115°C) without stirring. Add the hazelnuts, stirring continually. Cook until mixture becomes sandy, then continue cooking until sugar begins to remelt. Add the butter, and stir continuously until the nuts are coated in caramel. Pour onto a silicone mat or a lightly oiled granite slab. Form into elongated clusters and let cool. Store in a covered container with desiccant until needed.
|Lemon hazelnut cake|
|Lemon zest||4 g||0.14||7|
|Hazelnut meal||11 g||0.40||20|
|Pastry flour||57 g||2.02||100|
|Candied hazelnuts (topping)||43 g||1.52||75|
|Total appr. wt.||300 g||10.58||523.1|
Method: In a planetary mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest on second speed for three minutes. Add the eggs in two stages while mixing on second speed for two minutes. Combine the dry ingredients, and add. Mix on first speed for one minute or until incorporated. Deposit the batter into mini silicone baking moulds, and top with the candied hazelnuts. Freeze the prepared cake discs until needed.
|Hazelnut chocolate dacquoise|
|Egg whites||456 g||1||0.09||100|
|Hazelnut meal||297 g||10.46||65|
|Cocoa powder||46 g||1.61||10|
|Pastry flour||46 g||1.61||10|
|Total appr. wt.||1.201 kg||2||10.33||263|
Method: Sift together the hazelnut meal, cocoa powder and pastry flour, and set aside. In a planetary mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. Gently fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula in three stages.
Assembly: Brush the inside of three 3¼-in. by 7-in. loaf pans with butter and coat the butter with hazelnut meal. Deposit 250 g of dacquoise per pan. Next, press the frozen lemon hazelnut cake centers into the dacquoise end to end. Top with an additional 75 g of dacquoise and smooth. Allow to set for 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes or until baked through. Turn the cake out of the pans five minutes after baking and cool. The top is now the bottom. Brush the top of the cake with butter and dust with granulated sugar. Caramelize the sugar with a torch, and garnish with candied hazelnuts.
Yield: three loaf cakes