The Most Tedious Cake in the Galaxy
Updated: Aug 4
Tell me: what did you do last Friday night? Did you apply sliced almonds one by one to a giant pineapple cream dome until 2AM? Awesome. I am glad I was not alone.
It all started when I was watching le Meilleur Patissier, the French version of the Great British Bake Off. The second part of each episode is technical challenge in which the contestants must bake a cake they have never heard of before. In the fruit pastries episode this technical challenge was the:
This monstrosity of patisserie captivated me the moment I laid eyes on it. Look at it! It makes absolutely no sense. It is named after the bakery on the rue Bourdaloue in Paris that invented it. The same bakery apparently did much better selling a pear tarte, which is what will pop up in your Google if you search Bourdaloue. As their pear tarte grew in popularity, their pineapple cake fell to the annals of patisserie history. UNTIL NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Or, you know... until it was featured on a popular television show. But we're bringing it to America.
The ananas bourdaloue is the most tedius cake I have ever had the pleasure to bake. I can't even tell you how it tasted because I was so tired by the time it was done that I lost my sense of taste. Seriously, though, it was a delight to create. AND it let me use all sorts of kitchen things - such as a bain marie, a mandoline, and a bundt pan - that I normally just stare at and say, "We'll hang out someday, don't worry." Let me walk you through a few a the steps I was awake enough to document.
1.) Get a pineapple. You think I am not serious, but I actually had to do this step twice because the first pineapple I bought went bad before I got a chance to make this cake. I think it merits it's own step.
2.) Cut that pineapple up! Not into one shape, oh no. That would be too easy. Dice 1/4 of the pineapple and slice 3/4 of the pineapple with a mandoline.
3.) Prepare your pineapple in two ways. Take the diced pineapple and caramelize it in butter and sugar. The recipe I used said that you need a "sufficient quanitity" of butter and sugar. Because you know what? You can figure it out your damn self. After the pineapple cubes are caramelized, pour rum all over the little guys and WHAMO - light them on fire. I got these amazing huge flames that actually worried me for a little bit because it was burning for a long time, but it turned out ok. When the fire subsides, se these pineapples aside.
4.) Make a vanilla simple syrup - equal quantities of water and sugar with a dash of vanilla extract blended together over medium heat - and soak the pineapple slices in there for 10 minutes. You can now turn away from the pineapple and not think about it any more.
5.) Get your bundt pan down from the attic/basement/very back of your pantry. While you are up there, grab your bain marie.
6.) We are going to make a cake. This cake is called a genoise. All you need if flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. Also a bain marie. Super easy.
Mix 4 eggs and a rounded 1/2 cup sugar in a mixer. Put this mixture in a bain marie over medium heat and whisk regularly until the mixture is at 120 degrees. When you get to 120 degrees, put all that back in the mixing bowl and mix until the whole thing is cool again.
I don't know why you do this, but you just do. Besides, how often to you get to use your bain marie?
Once it's cold again, delicately add 3/4 cup sifted flour to the sugar-egg situation. Finally, add in 7 tablespoons of melted (but cooled) butter. Save the last tablespoon of your stick for buttering the pan.
7.) Butter and flour your bundt pan.
8.) Put the batter in the pan. Put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
You are doing so well. When it's done cooking, let it cool then pop it out and tell yourself that you rock.
9.) Make the pastry cream! This gets exiting because we are substituting almond milk for real meal. Yeehaw. Also, we're using rice flour!
Ok, all you have to do is simmer 2 1/3 cups of almond milk with 1/2 cup sugar. At the same time, mix 2 eggs, 4 egg yolks, and another 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Add 2/3 cups sifted rice flour and mix until smooth. Add half of the almond milk mixture to the sugar, eggs, and flour, and stir well. Put this whole thing you have just made back in the pot on the stove, and cook it until it become thick and custardy (like the inside of a cream donut). Do not overcook!
Right before it becomes thick and custardy like a donut, add 3 teaspoons of pectin mixed with 2 teaspoons of sugar to the cream. When you are done stirring, add a pack of gelatine (mixed with 1/4 cup water) and all the rum pineapples to the cream.
I totally forgot to take photos of this, so you can see it when it was all done.
10.) Drape the pineapple slices over the cake ring you made before. Let the slices overlap so the cake it totally hidden under blankets of pineapple.
11.) When the cream is cool, stick it in a pastry bag or in a ziplock with a hole in the corner and squeeze it into the hole in the cake! Make a dome. OR make something else. Maybe make a great tower from which the cherry you eventually will put on top of this thing can see the world. Up to you.
12.) The best part of this whole adventure is when you can turn on NPR and zone out listening to the sweet, sweet voice of Terry Gross as you apply the slivered almonds (you should toast them first, because what's one more thing at this point, really?) in "fish scale" pattern. Yes, "fish scale" pattern. It seemed to me like the only way to do this was almond slice by almond slice, so that is what I did. It was damn meditative.
Final touch: cherry on top. I don't actually like candied cherries, but it just looks so good.
The cake was fine. I mean, it was good. It was not as good as the amount of effort would want it to be. That said, there was something so good about the amount of effort that I would definitely do it again. Next time I am going to mix it up - maybe chocolate cake covered in strawberries.
I'll let you know how that goes on the next installment of Friday Night Ragers with Queer Martha.