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How to: Bake a Graphic Print Into the Side of Your Cake

These designer cakes are ready for their closeup

Never crookedly scrawl "Happy Birthday" across the top of a cake again. On this episode of Savvy, Lani Halliday — owner and baker at Brutus Bakeshop in Brooklyn, NY — demonstrates a colorful, impressive, and simple cake decorating method: joconde sponge, a traditional French technique. Halliday updates her recipe with bold designs and bright colors; watch above for a tutorial, and follow along with the recipe below.

Tuile Paste (AKA Brutus Bakeshop Cake Paint)

This recipe is super simple and totally scaleable to how much you want or need. It’s just equal parts of the ingredients listed below and the recipe below should be plenty for the sheet pan-sized joconde sponge recipe below. It’s best made and used at room temperature, as it will stiffen up when chilled. If its too thin to work with and get the detail you need (especially after adding the food color), you can stiffen it with additional flour, added 1 tablespoon at a time and stirring in between additions until you reach desired consistency.

2 oz/60 grams egg whites (room temp is ideal)

2 oz/60 grams gluten-free all purpose flour

2 oz/60 grams granulated sugar

2 oz/60 grams melted butter, cooled

Gel food color as desired

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl using a whisk, until totally smooth and no lumps remain. Add food coloring to achieve your desired shade.

Using a stencil or working free-hand, create your design with your tuile paste on a Silpat, then slide it onto a sheet pan to keep it flat. Pop the whole thing into the freezer as you prepare your joconde.

Joconde SpongeAdapted from Joe Pastry’s joconde sponge recipe

This recipe makes a batch of cake that’ll fit in a 12x18 inch (30x45cm) sheet pan. You can totally double it if you’ve got a pro-sized oven.

6 egg whites (aprox. 180 grams), at room temperature

1 oz/ 30 grams granulated sugar

8 oz/240 grams almond meal

8 oz/240 grams powdered sugar

6 eggs, at room temperature

2.5 oz./75 grams gluten-free all purpose flour

1.5 oz/45 grams melted butter, cooled

Set the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5 (350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4 if you’re using a convection oven)

Start by making a meringue with the first two ingredients.

Put the 6 egg whites/180 grams egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.

Make sure the bowl and whip are super clean, or else your meringue won’t whip up well.

Start the mixer on medium speed and let the whites whip until they’re all foamy across the top. At this point, start sprinkling the granulated sugar in, turn the mixer up to high and whip those whites and sugar to the stiff peak stage.

Dump that meringue into a large mixing bowl and set aside for now.

Sift the almond meal, powdered sugar and whole eggs into the same bowl of the mixer, but fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.

Mix the meal, sugar and eggs on low until incorporated, stop the machine scrape down the mix, then the machine back on to ‘high’ and let mix until doubled in size and it turns pale. This will take about 5–7 minutes.

When the mix has doubled in size and it turns pale, turn the mixer back down to low, and add the flour and melted butter, stirring just until incorporated then turn the machine off.

Using a large spatula or mixing spoon, scoop about 1/4- 1/3 of the meringue into the meal/sugar/egg mix and fold together. It’s not crucial to be super gentle here. Working in two more batches, gently fold the meringue into the egg mix, until no streaks remain.

Add food color now and fold gently until incorporated.

Pull the sheet pan with the now-frozen tuile design from the freezer and pour your cake batter over the top straight away.

Put the cake into the preheated oven and bake until just done. You want to avoid browning if you can here. It should take around 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness by feeling the center of the cake. It should set, not wet.

Pull the cake and let cool for just a couple of minutes before turning it out, so that it can cool outside of the pan.

Using a knife or spatula, completely loosen the all of the edges and corners of the cake from the pan.

In one swift movement, flip the pan over onto a piece of parchment laid out on the work surface.

Gently peel back the Silpat, and slide the cake and parchment onto a wire rack to cool for at least another 10–15 minutes.

You can work with the joconde while it’s still slightly warm – just work with it carefully.

Assembly of Final Cake

4" acetate (get this from Amazon or Chef Rubber online)

6" diameter cake ring mold (get this from Amazon or Chef Rubber online)

A couple of sheets of parchment + a pencil

A sheet pan

A spatula

1 x 6" chocolate cake layer (a 1/2 batch of your favorite chocolate cake recipe should work here, ChefSteps & Rose Levy-Berenbaum both have great ones)

1 batch of your favorite mousse (I like Epicurious’ "Simplest Chocolate Honey Mousse")

Firstly, line the ring mold with a couple of times over with acetate. Secure the acetate with a small piece of visible tape.

Line the sheet pan with a 2 pieces of parchment paper. This is your work surface.

Trim the cooled joconde to 3.5" tall. Working with your mold on the parchment-lined sheet pan, slip the cake into the acetate-lined mold, making sure that it’s nice and snug up against the inside of the mold. Use the left over joconde to cut a piece to fill in any gaps at the seam.

Next, you need a template to trim your chocolate cake so it fits super-snugly inside of the joconde-lined mold. Take a pencil and trace the inside circumference of your joconde-lined mold. Carefully remove the parchment from under the cake and cut out the circle you just traced.

Use this template to trim your 6" chocolate cake and ease the cake layer into the joconde round.

Pour your chocolate mousse right in there and use a spatula to smooth the top. Put the whole shebang, sheet tray and all, into the fridge to chill. Chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours or overnight until firm and set.

To serve, remove the cake, still on its sheet tray, from the fridge. Slip that ring mold up and off, then carefully remove the tape from the acetate and gently peel away. The cake should totally be sturdy enough to just pick up with two hands and move from the sheet tray onto your cake/display stand/plate. And you’re done! Cut and serve 8–12 of your greediest friends.

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