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JULIA: I knew you were coming, so I baked a cake.
This is a French butter sponge cake, a biscuit au beurre.
We're having cake for company, and you're invited, today on The French Chef.
♪ ♪ Welcome to The French Chef.
I'm Julia Child.
Today, we are doing one of the... (clears throat) basic French cakes, a butter sponge cake called biscuit au beurre.
And here's one.
Here's how it looks when it just comes out of the tin.
It's a lovely, light cake.
And here it is all decorated up.
And we're gonna do it today.
And I'm gonna start in right from the beginning.
And this is a very good kind of a cake to know about, because there are so many other cakes that are exactly done like this one.
And whenever you're gonna do a cake, you want to get all of your equipment and your ingredients all out and ready, and then you can start in immediately.
And we'll begin with our cake pan.
This is an 8-by-1.5-inch, one-piece cake pan, and we're going to butter it and flour it.
And most French cakes start out that way, with buttering and flouring, and then the cake will unmold easily.
And you take a little bit of salt and butter and you just rub it all around the inside of the tin.
And you want to make sure that you have the whole tin covered like that.
And then you shake a little bit of flour into it.
This can be cake flour, all-purpose flour-- it doesn't make any difference.
Then you want to tilt it in all directions, and then turn it around in your hands like that, so that the flour gets all over the edges.
And then you knock out the excess flour.
Just like that.
You see, the whole pan is now covered with a very thin layer of flour and of butter.
Then we're gonna have one cup of sifted cake flour.
And in all my recipes, we measure flour in exactly the same way, so you've probably seen me do this hundreds of times and you'll see me do it hundreds of times again.
There's one cup.
And this is cake flour, and that gets sifted right into the cup.
You know, cake flour's quite different from all-purpose flour.
It's a much lighter flour, and it's always bleached.
And then when you fill the cup to overflowing, you scrape off the excess flour.
So, there's your flour all measured, and you're through with that part of it.
And then we're going to have three tablespoons of melted butter.
And there's our three tablespoons of butter in there, melted and then set aside to cool.
And we want one-half cup of sugar.
I'll go over these proportions again later so that you won't forget them.
And then we're going to have three eggs, separated-- three yolks and three whites.
So now we have everything out, and we start in with the mixing.
And this is going to be the three egg yolks, which are going to be mixed in a bowl with the one-half cup of sugar.
Now, so many of these cakes start out this way, with the egg yolks and the sugar, and use very, very finely-- that super-fine sugar, if you can, because it's much easier to use.
And you beat it in little by little.
You're probably wondering what I've got here.
Well, I find it very easy to get a big pot and put a towel over it and then put the bowl on top of that, and then the bowl doesn't jump around.
And be sure that you add the sugar a little bit at a time.
If you add it all at once, you might make your egg yolks turn granule-ly.
You can do this either by hand or in a machine.
Then when it's all in, then you have to beat it around for a minute or two until the egg yolks and sugar form a pale yellow mass and make the ribbon.
This is always practically any dessert recipe.
When you have egg yolks and sugar, they almost always tell you to beat it for a minute or two until it forms the ribbon or until they're thick and lemon-colored.
Now, when it forms the ribbon, you lift the mass up and drop it onto the surface of the mixture, and it should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
That's not quite done enough yet, so I'm going to beat it a little bit more.
And if you're doing it in an electric mixer, be sure that you don't overbeat them.
I think that's probably thick enough now.
Now, look at it now, so that-- Oh, that's not-- isn't quite thick enough.
You see, the ribbon sort of just-- very slowly dissolves on the surface.
And for this kind of a cake, that is enough.
But if you're making something like ladyfingers, you're gonna have to beat them more than that to make it even more stiff.
And then, after you have your egg yolks and sugar, you're gonna put in your flavoring.
In this case, we're going to do a vanilla flavoring, and this will be a teaspoon and a half of vanilla.
And be sure that you use a good brand of vanilla extract.
There's one and a half.
Then... You can put in the vanilla anytime you want.
I guess I better beat it up just a little bit more.
And now we're ready to beat our egg whites.
We have... And I'm gonna have some fun today.
I'm always doing egg whites by hand in a copper bowl, and so I'm gonna have a race today between the copper bowl and the machine.
And I just want you to see that I'm not cheating at all.
I've got three egg whites in there and three egg whites in here.
And these eggs are all U.S.-graded large eggs.
So I'm gonna put three in the copper bowl and three in the bowl of the machine, and we're gonna see who wins.
And I think maybe I'll win because I'm bigger, but I don't know.
So there are three egg whites in there, and here are three egg whites in here.
This is one of these French unlined copper bowls, and it's wonderful for beating egg whites with, because the egg whites mount very nicely and they also retain their texture.
And then this is a very large wire whip, which you beat by hand.
And then, with this, I'm using the small bowl of the mixer, and I'm gonna start it in rather moderately until the egg whites have begun to foam.
And then, as soon as they foam, I'm gonna add a little bit of cream of tartar.
Cream of tartar helps the egg whites retain their volume.
It's sort of an acid.
And I'm gonna put in those-- for three egg whites, I'm gonna put in just a quarter of a teaspoon...
I mean, an eighth of a teaspoon.
They've started now foaming, so now I'll put the cream of tartar in and set it at about a moderate speed.
Then I'm gonna start in on the copper bowl.
Then, as soon as they've started foaming, I'm gonna put in a little bit of salt.
And the salt has the same effect on the copper as the cream of tartar has in the plain bowl.
I put in just a hint, 'cause that makes an acid reaction.
You start out rather slowly, and then you begin beating more hard.
And the idea with the hand-beating of the egg whites is to get just as much air into them as possible, enough that they start going round and round and round in the bowl.
But the idea is to have the biggest whip in the smallest bowl and then you get your egg whites mounted very quickly.
And if you're in good physical trim, it shouldn't take you more than two minutes to beat up your egg whites.
And remember also with egg whites that they'll beat up quicker if they're at room temperature and you've left them out for a little while.
Now we'll see how our machine is doing.
That's now sort of soft peaks, so now we'll put in a little bit of sugar, and that will also help to keep them to mount.
I'm gonna put in two tablespoons of sugar and then turn it up high, and I'll do the same with my hand-beaten ones.
And these should just mount until they make soft peaks...
I mean stiff peaks.
And I'll show you.
That's almost ready.
It's holding in the whip, but it has to make a little peak.
Now that's right.
You see, that's forming a little peak that stands up by itself, and that's what's known as properly beaten egg whites.
Now, I think our machine has probably done exactly the same thing.
I don't know who won on that.
'Cause I probably could have had the machine do it a little bit faster.
What we're mainly interested in is not in how fast it is but in how effectively they've mounted.
It looks to me, as we had about the same amount in each, but it's hard to tell.
But they're both velvety.
But one thing-- and I don't know whether you're going to be able to see it or not-- is that the ones that are done in the copper bowl will stay, keep this lovely velvety texture.
But the ones that are done in the glass bowl will fairly quickly begin to turn slightly granular.
They'll lose that lovely sheen.
So that's really the main reason why the copper bowl works out better.
But if you use your machine-beaten ones right away, then, having been folded into the batter, the egg whites will retain more of their volume.
And so now we have the folding of the flour into the batter and the egg whites, too.
I knew I had a reason for wanting my sifter.
Now, whenever you have a batter that is a rather stiff one, such as the egg yolks and sugar, which make a rather stiff mass, you want to alternate folding egg whites and flour in together.
So we'll put in a big spoonful of egg whites and just begin folding it in.
You'll notice, this folding business, that your spatula comes down and around and brings a little bit of your egg yolks over your whites.
And then put in about a quarter of your flour and then start folding that in.
This is all to be done very rapidly and carefully.
The object is that you do not deflate your egg whites, because it's the egg whites that make the cake puff up when it gets into the oven.
As you'll notice, there's no baking powder or anything like that in one of these cakes.
This is just all done by, sort of, God's processes, or God's creature, the egg.
That's why they have such a nice taste.
Now, you see, now we have our flour almost in... incorporated, and then you put in another spoonful of egg white.
Now this may seem like a rather long and tedious process, but it makes it much easier, and the main thing is that you're not deflating your egg whites.
I think these little flour sifters are very useful, indeed, just the fact that you can sift into-- just into a one-cup measure.
You see, there's that same movement that we're using throughout.
And then the last of the egg whites go in.
This is really, if you're making soufflés or anything that includes beaten egg whites, the folding is really the trick to the whole business.
If it's done properly, rapidly and delicately, then things are going to puff.
Now we have our three tablespoons of melted butter, and that gets folded in.
You can leave out the melted butter if you like.
This also gets folded in rapidly and delicately.
If you leave out the butter, the cake puffs a little bit higher, but the butter also gives a lovely texture to it.
It just makes-- depends on what you like.
You see the butter's going in about a tablespoon at a time, and you'll notice at the bottom of your butter pan, there's always a little bit of a sort of white, milky substance, and that you leave out, because that's just sort of milk or liquid.
Now that is all incorporated, and you don't want to overmix.
It's better if you have a little bit too much, a little tiny bit of unblended patches than overmixing and deflating your egg whites.
Now that's an 8-by-1.5-inch pan.
You see, your batter fills it by about two-thirds.
And then one thing that's a very good idea-- it's gonna puff up just to about fill the tin-- you tilt the tin around in all directions to run the batter up to the top of it, and then your cake will be... sort of rise a little bit more evenly, and not hump up in the middle.
And then just as soon as that's ready, that goes into a 350-degree oven, where it will bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
And the rung is right in the middle of the oven.
That's 350 oven for about 25 minutes.
And then you can tell when the cake is done-- of course, this one I have already have done-- but you can tell when it's done, you see, it fills the pan just by a little bit, and then it's lightly browned, and then you feel it in the oven, and you push your finger against it and it should spring very lightly back.
And then, also, it will have a very... just begin to show a line of shrinkage around the pan.
Of course, this is cool, so it shrunk more, but when you see just the very slightest line of shrinkage, then it's also done.
So remember, it's puffed, it's springy, and the very faint line, just a hairline of shrinkage, is shown.
And then you let the cake cool in its pan for ten minutes, and it will shrink a little bit more, and then put a cake ring, cake rack over it, and then go... (grunts) And if it doesn't come right down, let it sit for a minute more and then go, "Whack!"
And if the cake is properly done and it has shown that shrinkage, it will unmold.
And it usually, very usually, it's a little bit spotty on the bottom, which doesn't make any difference.
And if you want to serve it without anything on it, you turn it immediately over, but if you're gonna fill it, as we're going to do, you turn it over on that side.
Now, a French cake is always a low cake like this, and it's usually just made in two layers.
And you just take a big knife and you split it in half.
This is really much easier, I think, than making a whole lot of cakes in a whole lot of pans.
And then, so that you can be sure to reassemble it, you take a little knife and make a little wedge here, because we're gonna cover that up and that wedge isn't gonna show.
And then you know how to reassemble it again; you see, you've got your wedge there.
And now we're gonna make a filling.
This is gonna be an orange butter filling.
And this will be enough to fill, say, two cakes, but as you can keep it for quite some time in the refrigerator, we might as well make plenty of it.
So I have one and two-thirds cups of sugar, and then I'm gonna have a quarter of a cup of strained orange juice.
This is very easy filling, as you're going to see.
Six tablespoons of butter.
Now that's a quarter cup, that's eight tablespoons, so I want three-quarters of that, which will be six.
And then I want two egg yolks... ...and two whole eggs.
And then... if you want, you can put in a little bit of orange liqueur.
I'll put in just about a tablespoon of orange liqueur.
You don't have to put in any liqueur if you don't like.
Then you just stir that all over heat or hot water for about five minutes until everything melts and turns into sort of a honey.
That's all that you do to that.
And while I'm stirring this, I'm gonna go over the ingredients for the cake again in case you missed them.
Now, the proportions for making this butter sponge cake are: one cup of cake flour... And... that you measure first, and then three egg yolks beaten until thick and lemon-colored with one-half cup of granulated sugar.
And three stiffly-beaten egg whites.
And then you alternate folding the egg whites and the flour into your egg yolks and sugar.
And this is baked in a buttered and floured 8-by-1.5-inch cake tin in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
And then I'll go over the proportions of this orange butter now.
That is one and two-thirds cups of sugar, six tablespoons butter, two whole eggs, two yolks, one-quarter cup orange juice, and then just beat over heat until it become a thick lemon-yellow color.
Now I'm gonna show you how it looks when it's still warm.
It's just sort of a thick, thick, creamy substance.
It looks rather like a custard.
And then after it's completely melted and you taste it and you see that the sugar has melted-- you do not let it come over 168 degrees temperature.
Then you beat it over ice or put it in the refrigerator, and it hardens up a little bit more and then it's ready to use.
So that's a really very easy frosting and it's an awfully good one because all of the sugar has melted.
And then, with your cake, you can, if you'd like, you can put a little orange juice or a little orange liqueur.
You can just sprinkle it on the cake.
I'll use just a little bit of both.
And that gives you sort of a lovely moist cake, and this little bit of orange liqueur is awfully nice.
Put your thumb over it and just sprinkle it on.
You really don't need more than a tablespoon or so.
Of course, as I said, you don't have to use any liqueur, but it makes it taste French if you do.
Then you put some of your filling on the cake.
Now, if you want to make a richer filling-- I'm doing sort of a no-cow one this time because there really isn't very much butter in here-- you can beat in some softened, unsalted butter, and that will give you a thick, buttery filling.
For this amount, you could beat in two more sticks of butter, and then you have your filling on top there.
And then you reassemble the cake.
Now, there's our little-- there's our little wedge, so you see it goes right back on again the same way as it came off.
Seems to look a little bit off center, but I don't know why.
Maybe I didn't put the filling on correctly.
Now we're gonna cover it with apricot glaze.
As a matter of fact, I think I'm gonna turn this over to the other side because I think it looks a little better.
'Cause this is just gonna be, as I said, a simple filling.
And we have apricot glaze, and all that is is apricot jam or preserves, which looks like that.
And you push it through a sieve, and then say you had half a cup of it, push it through a sieve into a saucepan, and then add two tablespoons of sugar and then let it boil until the last drops are sticky when they come off the-- when they drop from your spoon.
And then you can-- and you use it while the glaze is still warm.
And then any glaze you have left over, you just heat up the way I'm doing.
And then you paint your cake with it.
The reason I didn't do a really very buttery frosting on this is because everybody says that we're doing things that have so many calories in them, and I thought, "Well, for once, I'll do something that really didn't have many calories in it."
And see, if you left all the butter out of your cake, then you'd only really have three tablespoons of butter in the whole thing.
Now then, when you get your cake all covered with your almond...
I mean, with your apricot glaze, then you lift it up, and you put some ground, pulverized almonds around the edge of the cake.
Just like that.
I should have put this on a tray.
Then you put the almonds all the way around the side, and because of the... because of the apricot glaze, the almonds stick on nicely.
I don't have to do this very carefully because I already have the other one that I did before.
I just wanted to show you as many things as possible in the time we have.
Then you can put any kind of a decoration you'd like on the top.
And I've got some blanched almonds, so I'll just put some of them on the top.
These, you could-- if you're a really artistic type, you can make a perfectly lovely decoration of anything that you'd like.
Now, that little wedge, I think I should have really had my glasses on when I made that wedge, because that really shows, but if I put a little more almond on, that will cover it up.
And then put a little bit of... And then, if you happen to have some glazed-- I mean, some candied, sliced oranges-- you know, sometimes they slice them in orange sections-- those would look awfully pretty.
You could put them all around the edge of the cake there.
And then you could put decorations in the middle of it, and you can have a great deal of fun if you're a really art type.
Now luckily, I have a piece of a cake already done, so you can see exactly how it looks.
Now, this is a lovely, light cake.
It's very nice to serve for tea, and it's especially nice if you're having a simple dessert, such as cut-up fruit or fruit ice or vanilla ice cream.
I'll cut you a piece so you can see how it looks.
And what is awfully nice about these French cakes is they... well, they taste so good on the tongue, and it's all... and that lovely homemade taste.
And also what's nice is that you can serve it straight-up on the plate so that you have plenty of room for your fruit or whatever else you have.
It doesn't have to tip over like one of those great big cakes.
Now, anytime you see this kind of a mixture with your egg yolks and sugar making a fairly stiff batter, and that you have to fold in both egg whites and flour, remember this method of folding them in alternatively, because the important thing with cakes, and also it's exactly the same way as making a soufflé, is that it puffs by itself and it's the folding that does it.
And cake-making is-- nobody's a born cake maker.
It's a matter of practice and determination.
And once you have the trick, you'll want company for dinner so that you can bake a cake.
And that's all for today on The French Chef.
This is Julia Child.
♪ ♪ ANNOUNCER: Julia Child is coauthor of the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org ♪ ♪