I find baking very zen; it usually soothes my nerves and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Each week, in addition to my baking group and blogging event projects, I love to be able to make a little something just for me.
In July last year, I attended a Baking Essentials class at The Essential Ingredient at Prahran Market, taught by Loretta Sartori. On the strength of Loretta's class, I purchased Loretta's book entitled The Cook's Book - Patisserie. It is a very useful book, because it teaches you how to make the various individual components in most well known pastries and cakes, so that you can mix and match them as desired.
Ever since I did Loretta's class, I had wanted to make the Diplomat Torte that we made as a class, and which appears as one of the recipes in Loretta's book. The Diplomat Torte is comprised of two well-baked discs of puff pastry, between which is sandwiched a sponge layer with creme patisserie, and which is decorated with icing sugar and toasted flaked almonds.
After almost 12 months, I had the perfect opportunity to make the Diplomat Torte, because courtesy of Tuesdays with Dorie, I had made Nick Maglieri's rough puff pastry and had enough egg yolks to make creme patissiere.
Behold the fruits of my labour:
I took my photo at the most flattering angle I could find; I will confess that in reality, my torte looked a little wonky on one side. However, it worked (hooray!) and tasted great.
If you would like to try your hand at the Diplomat Torte, the recipe for which is on page 167 of The Cook's Book - Patisserie, you will need:
2 discs of puff pastry ~ 30cm in diameter
Sponge (1/2 recipe from p35 of Loretta's book)
50g plain flour
Creme patissiere (from p244 of Loretta's book)
1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped out
3 egg yolks
50g sugar (yes, there's 2 lots)
Sugar syrup (from p263 of Loretta's book)
1 tablespoon Cointreau
Toasted flaked almonds for decorating the sides of the cake
Puff pastry discs
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Lay each disc on a baking tray and prick all over with a fork, then bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.Sponge
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line 1 x 26cm cake pan.
Separate the eggs. Whisk the whites with a stand mixer until soft peaks form, then gradually add the sugar while continuing to whisk.
Reduce the mixer speed, then beat in the egg yolks until just combined.
Sieve the cornflour and plain flour together into a bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, fold through the flour mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove the baked sponge from the oven, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Put the milk, vanilla bean and first batch of sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to the boil over medium heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and second lot of sugar together to form a paste.
Pour small amounts of the hot milk onto the egg yolk mixture while whisking continuously to temper the eggs. Once half the milk has been added to the egg yolk mixture, return the other half of the milk to the stove and bring back to boiling point, then to that saucepan add the tempered egg mixture, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and returns to the boil.
Once the custard has thickened, remove it from the heat and spoon (or if lumpy, sieve) into a clean bowl, and press cling film against the top of it. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until required (up to 5 days). When you are ready to assemble the torte, beat the chilled custard until smooth.
Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to the boil over medium heat, then simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir through the Cointreau. Transfer to a sterilised jar and refrigerate until required.
Trim each pastry disc until it is only 1cm larger in diameter than the sponge cake.
Put one pastry disc onto a cake plate or cake board, and spread with a 1cm layer of creme patissiere.
Place the sponge on top of the creme patissiere layer, and brush with enough sugar syrup to wet, but not soak, the cake.
Spread another 1 cm layer of creme patissiere on top of the sponge cake, then place the second pastry disc on top of that, with the puffy top side facing downwards.
Spread creme patissiere over the sides of the cake to mask the layers, and press the toasted almonds into the sides of the torte.
Dust the top of the torte with icing sugar. Refrigerate to set, and bring back to room temperature before serving.
******************************With the leftover puff pastry, I made a simple banded fruit tart, filled with the leftover creme patisserie, sliced strawberries, and toasted flaked almonds: