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— Continued from Part 1

Continuing our PB & Jam Joconde, we had a large baking mat, the size of the entire oven rack, filled with chocolate batter that needed chilled. If we were an actual bakery, we would waltz our carefully prepped mat into the walk-in freezer and park it between the charlottes and wedding cake layers. But we’re not a bakery, we’re just a little family kitchen with a family size fridge with shelves that barely hold a fat turkey. So we had to get creative.

We figured that the object of freezing the batter was to make it firm enough to quickly spread a second layer of batter on without disturbing the design underneath. Freezing was out so we went for a good chill.

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We placed a towel on the counter and covered it with ice cubes. Then we placed two half-sheet pans over the ice. This made a very cold surface on which to place the batter-filled mat.

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But the oven rack under the mat created too big a gap between our cold source and the baking mat.

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We didn’t want to remove the oven rack lest it disturb the surface of the chocolate batter so we placed a wet towel on top of the cookie sheets to transfer more cold up through the rack.

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The wet cold towel worked and the mat and batter became cold. It wasn’t frozen but it was cold enough to stabilize the chocolate batter before topping it with the second layer.

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A second batch of batter was made but without the addition of cocoa. (Note here how large the baking mat is. It is almost the size of our oven rack. The fit in the oven will be tight.)

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To spread the top layer of almond batter without disturbing the chocolate batter, it was critical to push the batter over the chocolate layer without spreading back and forth, which would have stirred up the chocolate batter. This step was similar to the technique used in crumb-coating a cake.

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Finally the mat was filled and ready for the oven.

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The mat still on the oven rack was slid into the oven. The batter was stiff and cold so it didn’t run out of the pan.

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A very tight fit indeed!

And then came the baking and our THIRD MAJOR Obstacle. If I recall, we figured 10 minutes at 450 should do it. But by the time we hit 7 minutes, smoke started pouring out of the oven. “The mat must be burning!” I yelled. “Maybe it’s melting!” he responded. “I told you the cake might burn.” he insisted. We threw open the oven in a panic and discovered ….

— To be continued in Part 3