The combination of the almond meringue layers and the Kirsch filling contrasts sweetness and depth of Kirsch flavor very successfully.
Makes one 9-inch cake, about 12 servings
One plain Genoise, recipe follows, baked in a 9-inch round pan and cooled
3/4 cup whole almonds
1 cup confectioners sugar
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kirsch
1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup Kirsch
Pink food coloring
Two cookie sheets or jelly roll pans lined with parchment
- Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
- For the Japonais, combine the almonds and the confectioners sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind them very finely. Pour the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat them with the whip until white and opaque. Increase the speed and beat in the sugar in a stream. Beat the egg whites until they hold a firm peak. Remove from mixer and fold in the almond mixture by hand. Spread the Japonais thinly in two 9 1/2-inch disks on paper-lined pans. Bake for about 30 minutes.
- For the syrup, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Cool. Add Kirsch.
- For the buttercream, combine the egg white and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until mixture is hot. Place on mixer with whisk and whip until completely cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the butter gradually and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Beat in the Kirsch a little at a time, beating smooth after each addition, then the coloring to tint the buttercream a pale pink.
- To assemble, trim the crust from the top and sides of the Genoise. Cut a 9-inch disk from cardboard. Using the disk as a guide, trim the Japonais layers to an even 9-inch diameter. Reserve the trimmings and crush them. Place a dab of the buttercream on the cardboard and place one of the japonais disks on it. Spread it with 1/3 of the buttercream. Moisten the Genoise layer with half the syrup and invert it on the buttercream. Moisten with the remaining syrup. Spread the genoise with another 1/3 of the buttercream and place the second Japonais layer on it. Spread the remaining buttercream only around the sides of the cake.
- Adhere the Japonais crumbs to the buttercream and dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar. Use the back of a serrated knife to trace a diagonal lattice pattern on the top of the cake.
Makes one tall 9-inch layer
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1/4 cup cornstarch
One 9-inch spring form pan and 3-inch deep layer pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment or buttered wax paper
- Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Half fill a saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat so that the water still boils gently.
- Combine the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk by hand to break up the eggs, then whisk in the sugar in a stream. Place the bowl over the simmering water and gently whisk until the mixture is lukewarm, about 115 degrees.
- Place the bowl on the mixer with the whisk and whip on medium to high speed until the foam is more than tripled in volume and very much lightened in color, about 3 or 4 minutes. The outside of the mixer bowl will fell cool to the touch.
- While the egg mixture is whipping, stir the flour and cornstarch together and place a strainer or sifter near them.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift a third of the flour mixture over the egg foam. Use a large rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure you dig down to the bottom of the bowl every time you pass through, so that no lumps of flour accumulate there. Continue adding the next third of the flour mixture, folding until it absorbed, ending with the last third.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Tilt the pan so that the batter runs all the way to the top of the pan all around the inside – this helps the layer to bake straight and flat instead of doming in the center.
- Bake the Genoise until it is well risen and deep golden and feels firm when pressed in the center with a fingertip, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Immediately unmold the cake to a rack to cool. Cover the cake with another rack and invert so that it cools right side up.