Gateau Russe / Russian Cake

Gateau Russe / Russian Cake -Bruno Albouze -THE REAL DEAL

Gâteau Russe / Russian Cake
Russian cake was created in 1925 by a pastry chef from Oloron-Sainte-Marie in south-western France when revisiting some pastry recipes from XIX century. It’s been kept secret since. This cake is based on almonds which were imported from Crimea (Russia); the best at that time. The cake is decorated with icing sugar to mimic the snow. What gives the gateau Russe such a distinctive aroma and flavor is the use of the best known almonds to date grown in Provence in southern France.

Makes a 8x11-inch (20x28cm) cake / Serves ≈16.

Almond Biscuit
5 ea. (150g) egg whites, room temp
3 Tbsp (30g) sugar
4 ounces (125g) almond meal
4 ounces (125g) powdered sugar
3 Tbsp (25g) all-p flour
1/3 cup (60g) milk*
*For a flakier result, omit milk.

Begin to beat egg whites with 1/3 sugar on medium speed. Meanwhile, in a food processor process almond meal, powdered sugar and flour to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl, stir in milk; set aside. Set oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Increase mixer speed to high and add remaining sugar gradually – whip until firm peaks. Mix about a third of the meringue with the almond-sugar mixture then fold in remaining meringue.

Makes 13x18 inch (33x45cm) and 9.5x13 (24x33cm) baking trays.
Lightly oil silicone mat and spread batter into 0.40 inch (1cm) thick sheets. Dust with powdered sugar (optional).
Bake for 12 min (reduce cooking time if using convection oven); let cool.

Almond-Hazenut Praliné (25%/25% Spread)
4 ounces (125g) whole almonds, toasted
4 ounces (125g) hazelnuts, toasted
A pinch of salt
5 ounces (150g) sugar
3 Tbsp (45g) water
1 tsp (3g) cocoa butter or butter.

After baking the almond biscuit, lower oven temperature to 300ºF (150ºC), lightly toast almonds for about 10 min. Cook sugar and water to 118ºC 244ºF and toss in warm nuts and salt. Stir constantly on medium high heat. Soon, the sugar is going to crystallized coating each nut – continue to stir for about 10 min, until completete caramelization. Transfer nuts into a clean and hot saucepan and continue to stir. (swapping saucepan helps to get rid of unwanted impurities and crystallized sugar left on sides. Turn the heat off, add cocoa butter (cocoa butter helps to separate caramelized nuts. Stir well and transfer onto silicone mat to cool. With 2 forks, put aside some caramelized almonds and save for garnishing.
Process caramelized nuts to paste (do not over process or oil will separate from the fruits). Set aside. Praliné can last months in the refrigerator or cool area.

Italian Meringue
3 ea. (90g) egg whites
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1/2 tsp (1g) cream of tartar, or a few drops of lemon juice (it stabilizes the meringue)
2 Tbsp (30g) water.

Begin to beat egg whites on medium speed with cream of tartar; keep egg whites to foamy stage. Meanwhile, cook sugar and water to 248ºF (120ºC). Increase speed to high and pour syrup in thin stream. Beat until stiff peaks then, lower the speed and continue to whip until Italian meringue cools down. Transfer onto a tray lined with plastic wrap and freeze. Italian meringue can be made in advance and kept frozen for weeks.

6 ea. (120g) egg yolks, room temp
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla paste
0.8 cup (180g) sugar
1/4 cup (60g) water
16 Tbsp (250g) unsalted butter (EU style 82% fat min), softened.

8 ounces (240g) almond-hazelnut praliné spread.

Beat yolks and vanilla on medium speed with the whisk attachment. Meanwhile, cook sugar and water to 248ºF (120ºC). Increase speed to high and pour syrup in thin stream. Beat until foamy and cool; for about 10 min. Add soft butter when the temperature of the batter reaches 75ºF (24ºC), continue to beat on high. If the buttercream is too soft; refrigerate for about 20 min and beat again.

Praliné Buttercream Filling
Gently, combine the chilled Italian meringue with the buttercream and add 8 ounces (250g) almond-hazelnut praliné.

Gâteau Russe Assembly
Top biscuit with parchment paper and flip – remove the silicone mat. Make 3 x 9x12-inch (23x30cm) biscuit sheets. Place the first biscuit sheet on tray lined with baking mat (skin side up). Spread evenly some praliné buttecream filling. Note that the thickness of the filling should match the thickness of the biscuit. Repeat twice (skin side down). With a large off set spatula, remove some of the filling making sure it does not go higher than the baking tray or an inch (2.5 cm). Make the surface clean and even and freeze for about an hour before trimming. Save filling leftover for later use.

Gateau Russe can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for weeks; wrapped.

Serve the cake whole dusted with icing sugar or divided into 4x2.5 inch (10x2.5cm) bars; decorate with more filling using an open start pastry tip or St honoré. Garnish with whole caramelized almonds and gold leaf. Enjoy!

Bon appétit!

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