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There are 43 photos with this entire post so I’ve decided to divide it up into 4 parts. I will post over the next several days so as not to slow down your connection.

A Joconde cake is a delicious, decorative almond sponge cake wrapped around layers of mousse, cake, fruit or other filling. I first discovered Joconde cakes online while surfing for baking equipment. Oh my, I did a double take at the amazing artistry of such a dessert! I didn’t know what it was called, I just knew I had to make one.

[Note about the photos: Two of my sons and I took photos of the process of making this cake. Please excuse the inconsistency in focus and style. My guys were great to kindly photograph when my hands were battered up. It’s important to me that skills are passed on to the next generation. So whenever possible, the guys get to do the fun stuff! And wow, their photos are great!]

We got the silicon baking mat from Laguna Wholesale. I chose a mat with a design that had the biggest “wow” factor for me, a geometric Greek Design with precise lines and sharp detail.

Even before beginning to bake, we hit our First Major Obstacle. We’re not a bakery, we’re just a regular family that likes to bake. And our oven is a regular home oven that happily obliges. The mat purchased was 23.64 x 15.76 x 1.18 inches. I should have measured my oven before buying the mat but was just too excited.

I have no pans that size to hold the mat. We considered making a custom pan since the guys can work with sheet metal. We considered cutting the mat in half and placing each half in a half-sheet pan. (Considering the expense of the mat, that was our very last and desperate option.) We considered covering a piece of cardboard with tin foil but weren’t sure if that would affect the heat under the mat too much. Finally, we decided to use just the oven rack itself. It was a risky tight fit, with barely 1/4″ clearance on the sides but we decided to go for it before trying something else.

I found various recipes online and then created one I figured would work. I’m very disappointed in myself for losing the recipe I scratched out on a piece of paper! I decided to use just egg whites instead of whole eggs and we didn’t have almonds so I used almond extract and extra flour for best batter consistency. The batter worked fairly well.

Unsalted butter and egg whites are beaten together for the first part of mixing the batter. I took this photo just because I loved how the slippery butter bits swooshed around the bowl of egg whites.

Unsalted butter and egg whites are beaten together for the first part of mixing the batter. I took this photo just because I loved how the slippery butter bits swooshed around the bowl of egg whites.

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About a third cup of Dutch processed cocoa powder was beat into the finished batter then dolloped on the mat.

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The cocoa batter was spread on the mat with a large offset spatula.

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We spread the batter carefully into the design, hoping to press out bubbles.

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After the design was filled, we carefully scraped off all excess batter, being careful to clean off the design so the second layer of batter would show cleanly.

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After spreading the batter, we hit our Second Major Obstacle. The filled mat was supposed to be frozen for 5 or 10 minutes. We’re not a bakery, we’re just a plain home kitchen with a standard side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. The mat didn’t fit in our freezer OR our refrigerator. How would we freeze a surface the size of an oven rack?

—To be continued in Part 2

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