Torte Setteveli (Seven Veils Cake)


  • Servings: MAKES 10-1/2
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There is a very good reason that this was the technical challenge in the semi-final round of Season 9 of the Great British Baking Show! While it is do-able in the five hours they were given to do the challenge, it is much easier if you do certain steps a day ahead, and follow the freezing directions to the letter. This is one of those recipes that is so rewarding if you take the time to read it through ahead of time and pace yourself. A very special cake!!

Chocolate Genoise Cake
Adapted from Lidia’s Italian Table by Lidia Bastianich
2-1/4 cups (256 g) cake flour
2/3 cup (64 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 large eggs (342 g), at room temperature
1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan.

Sift together two times the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

Over a double boiler, whisk together the eggs and sugar until they are warm (about 80°F) and almost doubled in size.  Place the mixture into a stand mixer and whisk until the mixture has tripled in size, about seven minutes.  It’s the proper consistency when you lift the batter with the whisk, and as the batter falls back into itself, it stays on top of the batter for 30 seconds before sinking (This is called the ribbon effect because the form it makes looks like a ribbon).

Sift half of the flour into the egg mixture and fold it into the batter, being careful not to deflate the air whipped into the batter.  Sift the other half of the flour on the egg mixture and fold it until all the flour is combined.  Pour the batter into the springform pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  A skewer/toothpick poked into the center of the cake should come out clean when the cake is done.  Remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack.  The sponge cake should be made at least one hour before assembling the torta so it has time to cool completely.

Simple Syrup for Imbibing
1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) water

In a saucepan bring the sugar and water to a boil.  Remove from the heat and cool and refrigerate.  The imbibing syrup should be cold when assembling the torta.

Praline Crunch
1/3 cup (65 g) dark chocolate (64%)
2 T (27 g) butter
1/3 cup (80 g) hazelnut paste (make ahead; see recipe below)
1-3/4 cup (40 g) cornflakes, crushed a bit by hand

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and add the hazelnut paste and the cornflakes.  Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the torte.

Hazelnut Bavarian Cream
(You’ll want to make this right before you will be using it)
(Makes 1 quart)
1 cup (8 oz) whole milk
1 cup (8 oz) cream
1/2 cup (4 oz) hazelnut paste (make ahead; see below)
5 egg yolks (90 g)
1/2 cup (90 g) granulated sugar
1T (12 g) gelatin placed in water (4.8 silver or 7 platinum)
2 cups (16 oz) heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.

In a large saucepan, heat the milk, cream, hazelnut paste to scalding. The mixture will start bubbling around the outer edges.  While the milk mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they become pale.  To temper the eggs, pour a third of the scalded milk onto the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Then pour the rest of the egg mixture into the saucepan, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the mixture reaches 82°C/160°F. 

Strain into a medium-sized bowl. (NOTE: At this point you’ve made hazelnut crème anglaise.) Squeeze all the water out of the gelatin, and add the gelatin to your crème anglaise, stirring until it has melted and has been incorporated.  Place the crème anglaise bowl over the ice bath, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is chilled. 

Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the crème anglaise mixture to lighten it.  Fold the remaining whipped cream in in two more stages.  (Now it’s called Bavarian cream!).

Chocolate Mousse
(Dominique Ansel’s recipe)
2 each gelatin sheets (Silver strength/160 bloom) [Very useful and pros love them. You can mail order these]*
1-7/8 cup (448 g) heavy cream
1-1/4 cup (312 g) whole milk
1-3/4 cup (308 g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa content), finely chopped

* If you can’t find gelatin sheets, use powdered gelatin. One gelatin sheet = 1 scant tsp (2.3g) powdered gelatin. For every tsp of gelatin, bloom in 1 T (15g) water.

Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of ice water* until soft, about 20 minutes. (If using powdered gelatin, sprinkle 2 tsp (6g) gelatin over 6 tsp (30g) water in a small bowl, stir, and let sit for 20 minutes to bloom.)

* Whether using sheet or powdered gelatin, you must use COLD water. Warm or hot water will immediately dissolve the gelatin and you will not be able to work with it.

In a small pot, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Remove
from heat.

Place the dark chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour half of the hot milk over the chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Stir gently with a spatula until the milk has melted the chocolate. Once melted, pour in the remaining milk, and stir to combine.

Switch to a hand blender and emulsify the ganache until smooth, glossy, and free of any lumps. Squeeze out any excess water from your bloomed gelatin sheets. Whisk the bloomed gelatin into the hot ganache until it has dissolved. When finished, the ganache should have the consistency of mayonnaise. Let cool to between 90-95°F (32-35°C).*

* At room temperature, the ganache will remain smooth but won’t melt the whipped cream.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, slowly pour the ganache into the whipped cream. Fold until fully incorporated. Be careful not to overmix, as that will deflate the airy texture of the mousse.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mousse to prevent a skin from forming.

Refrigerate at least 12 hours to set.

To make a silky hazelnut dark chocolate mousse, start with the dark chocolate mousse recipe, and add in 1/3 cup (100 g) of your hazelnut paste as you warm up your milk.

Chocolate Mirror Glaze (Glacage)
2 cups (350 g) chocolate, white or dark*
1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
2/3 cup (200 g) condensed milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
19 g gelatin
7/8 cups (200 g) water

*If making a dark chocolate glacage, you may wish to add about 1 cup (100 g) of cocoa powder, which will give it a darker color and richer chocolate flavor.

Bloom the gelatin in the cold water for twenty minutes.

Heat the water, sugar, and condensed milk in a saucepan. Bring it just to a boil and turn off the heat. Stir in the vanilla and bloomed gelatin until it is fully dissolved.

Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot liquid over it. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is fully melted. Using an immersion blender (or whisk), process until very smooth. Be careful not to introduce too many bubbles since every minor imperfection will show on the surface. Strain the glacage through a sieve to remove any stray particles.

When the glacage has cooled to 90°F (32°C), it is ready to pour over the cake. Use a cooling rack to position the cake and collect the excess below. You can save it and use it for future pours. Once poured, the glacage will cool quickly. It takes about 15 minutes to fully cool and solidify. It should be more like a soft ganache-like gel than a hard shell.

Hazelnut Paste
**Hazelnut paste is not easy to find in the United States.  You can order it online, and sometimes you can find it at high end supermarkets, but you can also make it yourself.  You must have a food processor to do so!

1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) water
3 cups (390 g) hazelnuts, skins removed
1 to 1-1/2 tsp hazelnut oil or walnut oil preferred, or you can substitute vegetable oil

In a saucepan, caramelize the sugar by heating the sugar and water to 340°F (it will be a light amber color).  Don’t wait until the mixture is darker because it continues cooking after you’ve taken it off the heat.  Once it is a light amber color, take it off the heat and add the hazelnuts. Stir so each nut is coated with caramel.  Pour onto a silpat or parchment paper and cool completely. Once it has cooled, break the candied hazelnuts into pieces that will fit into your food processor.

Working in batches, grind the candied hazelnuts until they are a thick paste.  Add all the paste back to the food processor and drizzle in the oil just until its a creamy paste (a texture similar to peanut butter).

ASSEMBLY (And The Order of Things):
Organization is key here.  Have the hazelnut cream ready, the sponge cake cooled and the imbibing syrup cold before you start on the other components of the cake.

Once the above components are ready, slice the sponge cake.  First remove any dome from the cake so you have a flat top surface, then cut the cake in half.  Place one slice at the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.  Place a mylar plastic strip around the rim of the springform pan (I use (3) 8×10 acetate sheets taped together).  You’re basically creating temporary sides for the springform to contain the various layers you’ll be adding.

With a pastry brush, dab the simple syrup onto the cake, imbibing it well. Refrigerate.

Meanwhile, make the Praline Crunch.  Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread it onto the top of the imbibed cake layer.  Refrigerate.

At this point make the Hazelnut Bavarian cream (recipe above).

Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and ladle 2 cups of the Bavarian cream over the chilled praline layer of the cake.  Spread it to the outer edges of the cake so that you have an even layer of Bavarian cream.  This layer should be similar in size to the layer of cake.  Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, so the Bavarian cream will set more quickly.

Remove the cake from the freezer and place the second slice of cake on top of the Bavarian cream layer.  With a pastry brush, dab the simple syrup onto the cake, imbibing the cake well with the syrup.  Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove the cake from the freezer, and ladle 2 more cups of Bavarian cream onto the cake layer, spreading it to the outer edges as before. Place in the freezer for 45 minutes.

While the cake is doing its time in the freezer, make the Chocolate Mousse (recipe above). 

Once the Bavarian cream has completely set, remove cake from the freezer.  Remove the springform rim from the cake, and the rim you made.  Spread the chocolate mousse evenly over the top of the cake and the sides.  It should be as smooth and level as possible, as any bumps or seams will show through when you pour the mirror glaze on. Place in the freezer for 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to take the cake out of the freezer, make the chocolate mirror glaze (recipe above).  In the 15 minutes it takes to make the glaze and to let it cool to 90 F, the cake will be ready to take out of the freezer.  If your cardboard disk is bigger than the diameter of the cake, you should carefully replace it with one that is no bigger than the diameter of the cake.  (This will allow the glaze to run off the cake instead of forming a puddle at the bottom.)

Place a baking rack into a sheet pan and place the cake on the baking rack. (It might be wise to have a second sheet pan ready, in case you have to glaze the cake a second time.  Slowly pour the chocolate glaze over the cake, starting at one end and moving to the other. Make sure the glaze covers all sides.  If the glaze doesn’t cover all sides after the first glazing, move the rack (with the cake on it) to the second sheet pan.  Pour the glaze at the bottom of the sheet pan back into the saucepan and reglaze in the same manner you did for the first glazing.  Ideally, you will want to glaze only once, but if you have to glaze a second time, you want to work quickly before the gelatin starts to set.  Don’t glaze more than 2 times, or you risk having an uneven and lumpy glaze.  Once glazed, place the cake into the refrigerator until the glaze has set. Chill at least one hour before serving.  Slice and serve.  Buon Appetito!

Adapted from recipe by Prue Leith, Great British Baking Show, Cake adapted from Lidia’s Italian Table by Lidia Bastianich, Mousse by Dominique Ansel

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