French Tea Cakes

serves 4 to 6

Set oven at 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour one 11 x 16 jelly-roll pan for petite fours. The baked sheet of cake should not be more than 2 cm high. Bake the cake a day ahead and freeze it so it can be cut without crumbs.

6 eggs slightly warm

Combine in a large bowl, stirring until they are just combined.

225 g sugar

Set bowl over a saucepan containing 1 or 2 inches of hot water. Water in pan should not touch bowl. Place saucepan containing bowl over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until eggs are warm. Do not allow the water to boil! Stir lightly every minute or two to prevent the eggs at the bottom from poaching.

When the egg mixture is warm, beat it at high speed until light and fluffy, triple in bulk and lemony in colour

180g weak flour

Sprinkle flour, a little at a time, on top of the whipped eggs. Fold in gently.

125g clarified butter

Cool slightly and fold in

5 ml vanilla

Fold in

Pour batter into prepared pans,. Bake in preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until cakes pull away from sides of pans and are golden brown and springy when touched lightly on top. Remove from pans immediately and cool on cake rack.

125 ml flavoured Simple Syrup

Pierce cooling cake all over with a fork. Spoon simple syrup evenly over cake, allowing the cake to soak it up (it's called a “sponge” cake for a reason.)

60 ml 1 cup apricot jam, raspberry jam or butter cream

Cut the cake in half (giving two 8x11 sections.) Cut a piece of baker's parchment 20” by 14”. Put the parchment on a firm board, then put one half of the cake on the parchment. Spread the filling smoothly over one half of the cake, then cover it with the other half (so you now have a two-layer cake). Trim the edges.

Fold the parchment over the cake and fold down around the sides to prevent drying out. Put a second firm board on top of the cake, and put your copy of Joy of Cooking (or Twilight, or another 600-page book that you aren't likely to want to read tonight) on top of the second board and put the whole stack into the fridge for two hours. Ideally, after two hours slide the parchment-wrapped cake into a ziplock freezer bag and freeze overnight or longer. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before you are ready to start decorating the cakes. Let it thaw 15 minutes, then cut into shapes while still partially frozen.

Ice with Anne's Petits-Fours Icing or with Various Petits-Fours Icing.