Lesson 12: Make it Moka


I don’t know which side of the bed I woke up on that day, but since when does a Mocha not have chocolate in it?


This is a discussion that could finish fast or continue for hours!


Well this lesson was an exciting one as we began learning the art of difficult cake decorating and also began STAGE 1 of the Croissant Crusade!


Lesson 12: Moka ßà Mocha

  • MokaGénoise Sponge soaked in coffee and rum syrup and covered in coffee buttercream



  • Croissant Dough Détrempe Dough for the Croissants next week (tune in for a later post!)


So today was all about Sponges, Imbibing Syrups and Buttercream icing not a bad combination if I do say so myself.


Interestingly though, the Chef began the class with a history lesson. He said this cake is no longer, sold, it is defunct, defective, from an age when cakes needed to last longer and bakers did not have the tools or techniques necessary to make todays popular cakes. This is a cultural remnant for which he has no like or enjoyment.


What a way to start a class… this is our teacher for heaven’s sake!


Well, we all thought it was pretty tasty given that our gourmande chef added a lot of coffee extract and half a bottle of rum as usual!


He also made it all look so ridiculously easy, as usual, but we all knew that this was going to be a tall order and that there were so many ways to easily stuff this up.


Firstly, the Chef made his Génoise Sponge batter in the industrial mix master whilst in class we, the students, have to do every single step by hand with a whisk! I like the equity and equality in this situation; it is like your boss using their stethoscope to listen to a chest, whilst the lowly resident has to listen with a rolled up paper cone and their deaf ear!



He then placed the batter in a mould that had been buttered and floured (à CHEMISÉ) and spun it like a spinning top using centrifugal force to force the batter to the sides and leave a small depression in the centre – this is the genius method to create a flatter top to your cake as the centre will rise more than the sides and you will prevent the hump that usually forms in the centre – I’ll keep that technique!



After taking the moulds directly out of the oven he touched the moulds with his bare hands and cut the cakes whilst hot, saying you just have to tell your brain they are not hot! He’s got guts, 30 years of experience and asbestos in his fingertips! He always does what he tells us not to do!





He then showed us the correct technique for cutting cakes into multiple layers and it was like a lesson in architectural structural engineering – right up my alley!






After he doused each layer with the Rum and Coffee Syrup delicately with a pastry brush.






Next on the cards were the palette knife and all that buttercream which literally had more than 1.5kg of butter in it – if only I had managed to get the photo as evidence of his cardiovascular crimes!





He spread the cream to and over the edges and made the layer in the middle very thin, he then flipped the next doused sponge layer on top and repeated the process until he had his tower of soaked sponge and coffee cream.



Then came the revolution of this whole process, literally; His massive hands made a perfect plate that he rested the cake on. As he turned the cake with his fingertips using his palette knife he made a windscreen wiper motion “advancing and descending” along the border creating a seamless smooth wall of Coffee Buttercream. He then used a palette knife warmed on the stove to create a perfectly flat surface on the top that had a glossy sheen.



Next came the roasted chopped almonds for the border, piping the delicate rows of tiny beads over the entire cake and the piece de resistance, chocolate covered Coffee beans!



PRESENTING THE MOCHA (Café sans the Chocolat)




Everyone was ready for the tasting, but a good shot of Espresso from St. Ali in Melbourne, let alone any coffee place in Melbourne, would certainly have paired perfectly with the cake!



PRACTICAL CLASS, 6:30pm Wednesday Night


Today’s practical class was at 6:30pm like the last one too!


Being the Assistant for this week has been challenging to say the least. But my partner and I were born for this!


We are organised, efficient and still have fun!


Tonight’s run down to the Sous Sol, that hive of activity and ingredients in the depths of the basement included:

  • 17 dozen Eggs
  • 20.5kg of Flour
  • 12kg of Sugar
  • 6.5kg of Butter
  • 1kg of Chopped Almonds


ΞΞΞΞΞΞΞΞΞΞyou now have permission to cringe! ΞΞΞΞΞΞΞΞΞΞ


We also had to get out the salt, coffee extract, rum, chocolate covered coffee beans, piping bags and 14 moulds.


Then came the MARATHON!


We had to whip for about 40-50 minutes in total with a whisk. First with the eggs for the Génoise Sponge then with the huge bowl of 7 egg yolks and 350g of butter for the coffee buttercream.


The Génoise batter needed to be thick and ribbon-like – and would take up to 20 minutes of whisking by hand to get it even near this consistency.

The whole cake slowly came together and it was time for a new technique – Masquer!


The French are an incredible civilisation – from the roots of their history comes an obsession with gluttony and le gourmande – to the point which they have very specific and unique terms in French for a single process in pastry making!


Le Masquer literally means to coat the outside of a cake in buttercream using a spatula!


So today, nous faisons Masquer le gâteau avec couteaux à palette et de nombreuses de crème au beurre!


For those that don’t speak French, or actually speak French correctly, what I was trying to say was “So today, we make to masquer the cake with palette knives and much buttercream.


Moving right along, we all attempted, some much better than others, to mask our cake in beautiful smooth layers of coffee buttercream.


Here is my final product, and after, a few by my amazing culinary compatriots which we completed in an overcrowded, stressful environment!






One response

  1. Mum

    Did it remind you of your birthday cake – love you lots!

    May 1, 2011 at 6:15 am

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