A Late Little Taste of Summer - Sous Bois

I'm working on my way to post each cake/dessert (almost) on this blog, so bear with me. This cake was made about three weeks ago, wedding cake & favor and also Thanksgiving feast are coming too and I hope you had a wonderful blessed Thanksgiving. I enjoyed my Thanksgiving with my family and friends and Turkey dinner! I'm so thankful to have four out of 7 siblings with me at this time, and also my mom. It's been a while since I've seen her and in this holiday season, there's nothing I want more than to spend time with them. How did you spend your Thanksgiving? Would LOVE to hear them :)

I hope you're not bored yet with cake after cake after cake, because that's all I'm doing mostly for the past few months. It seems like each year, the number of cake I'm expected to make (by friends) increases or it's just me who can't stop making one after another :).
I think I mentioned it before that I rarely follow any recipe from any book when it comes to cake. I don't have that many baking books, but I do have a couple that I really like, such as Pierre Herme, Alain Ducasse, and Hidemi Sugino. I've been wanting to try one of their cake recipe to the tee, without altering anything and I had the perfect chance to do so.

I was first introduced to "food-blog" when I was in college, I didn't know that there are blogs out there dedicated for food only, accompanied with such gorgeous photography. I don't know how but I found myself on this site. I wasn't into baking yet at that time (I was more into cooking), but the pictures in that site were enough to make me dream about the cakes she made. I even made one of the cake picture my desktop background, which happens to be her miroir cassis picture. I found myself reading and re-reading every single post she has and admiring her skill. Unfortunately, she doesn't post many recipes, especially the cake recipe, but she always mentions which book does the recipe taken from. And that's how I was introduced to Hidemi Sugino, a Japanese pastry master, more like the Pierre Herme of Japan.

When I was more knowledgeable about cake a few years after, I was determined to hunt for that book even though I knew that it only comes in Japanese translation with Japanese/French ingredients, but it doesn't stop me from ordering it straight from amazon japan. I had his other book also, The Dessert Book, which is written in English and covers some simple desserts, but I don't look at it as much as the other one. I own the book for almost two years now but not once did I make any of his recipe, until now. I was using it more for inspiration and admiration of his perfection, clean lines of the dessert.

Since I was first in love with Hidemi Sugino through Nordljus' Miroir Cassis, which is Sous-Bois in Hidemi's book, I decided that if there's any recipe I would try from his book, this gotta be the first one. It doesn't look too complicated though, it looks like something that I would make normally, except for the fact that most of his fruit mousse has both italian meringue and heavy cream in it. I think this is one of the drawbacks (other than the fact that his recipes are in Japanese and I score 0 on that) from me trying his recipes, because that's mean an extra step I need to do. So, armed with the very minor knowledge for French (only limited to baking ingredients) and my basic knowledge to make mousse, bavarian cream, joconde, and other stuff, I was ready to tackle it.

I ordered the frozen blackcurrant puree a few months ago and I was never bothered to try it. I have never had blackcurrant before, not the real one at least. Sure I had those boxed blackcurrant juice, blackcurrant tea, and I LOVE them! In the drink form, it has a very aromatic taste that I like. I was a bit surprised though when I found out that the real one (the puree at least) doesn't taste anything like that. It was mostly tart without the strong taste I expected like in the drink, a bit like blackberry, but the color was gorgeous! Reminded me so much of black raspberry. I haven't had the time to take a picture of the blackcurrant puree I'm using, but I'll add it once I have the chance to.

This cake consists of:
- joconde base moisten with raspberry syrup (He brushed his joconde sponge with creme de cassis syrup, but I brushed mine with the raspberry liquid used to marinade the blueberry. I don't fancy creme de cassis that much or maybe the one I have is the cheap kind?).
- Blueberry mixed with raspberry coulis (His recipe calls for black and red currant but I didn't have fresh or frozen blackcurrant (I don't think you can get them in CA), so I substituted with blueberry for the compote or what he called "garniture")
- Kirsch bavarian cream
- Cassis mousse
- Patterned joconde on the side with black raspberry jam (he used homemade blackcurrant jam, but again since I don't have it, I used black raspberry jam)
- Clear glaze ( he mixed his with blackcurrant puree but when I did that, the two won't mixed well, so I just used a clear one)

His recipe calls to make another joconde with no pattern for the base, but since I already had some extra from making the previous cake (it was taken from Pierre Herme's recipe), I used that instead. I also added another layer of joconde in the middle for the big cake, not for the smaller version.

The verdict? I was pleased with the way it turned out. I love the combination of the tartness of the cassis combined with the creaminess of kirsch. I don't normally use kirsch in my baking, particularly because it reminds me so much of the cherry-flavored cough medicine I used to take when I was a kid, but after using it in this cake (which I hesitated at first), I think I might have to reconsider my statement again :). Some friends said that it's too tart but it's something you inherit from the fruit itself. Just like lemon or raspberry, no matter how much sugar you put, you will still taste that pleasant tartness in it (well, maybe not if you put a ton of sugar in it), so I won't worry about it. This cake can be adapted to so many different variation, I don't see why we can't substitute blueberry or raspberry for the blackcurrant.

Now that I've tried one, I think I'm ready for the next one :)

The winner of the previous giveaway from random.org is ......... HARI!! I'll send you email shortly for the coupon code that you can use. CONGRATULATIONS!!


Zoe said...

Love all your photos. They are very pretty :D

Amber said...

Very occasionally you can find black currents at Berkeley Bowl if you're in the Bay Area. But mostly they only carry red and white ones.

lisaiscooking said...

You did a beautiful job with the cake! The fruit flavors sound delicious too. Now, I'm so curious about Hidemi Sugino. I'd love to see his books.

Anonymous said...

these are so beautiful, and i bet they taste pretty delish too. it must have taken a whole lotta patience to arrange the decorations like that!

Anonymous said...

can you tell me if some of japanese recipes books have french translation too? I 'm very curious about Hidemi Sugino's book but can understand japanese.

Bertha said...

Amber: really? too bad Berkeley is so far from my place, but definitely will visit there if I'm in the area, Thanks!

Anonymous: He only has two books, one that I mentioned in the post, which is only in Japanese (with a little French) that covers mostly cake, the other one is called "The Dessert Book", which has English translation. This book doesn't cover cake though, only basic desserts

Zoe, lisaiscooking, crustabakes: Thank you :)

Swee San said...

looks great! now i need to get some of those purees.. I've been tempting to buy Hidemi's Le Gout Authentique Retrouve, even if it's in Japanese and a little bit of French. Either way, I can understand none.

jana said...

Nice post.Can you tell me if the recipes would be made available in Dutch translation ?This seems to be so yummy.I want to have it done in my kitchen.I've been learning a lot about the pastries and baking.Hoping you could have more of posting about it.I really love it.Thanks for sharing.

Bertha said...

jana: The book is in french and japanese for ingredients, and in japanese only for the directions. You should be able to use online translation for the ingredients, but not sure about the japanese directions because of the special characters