Making Marjolaine Step 5: The Layers

Since opinion is divided on which version of marjolaine is superior, the one made with sponge cake or the one made with meringue, I decided to demonstrate both:

For Sponge Cake Layers

You’ll need:

6 egg whites
3 ounces (1 cup) toasted, sliced almonds
4.5 ounces (1 cup) toasted hazlenuts
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1.25 ounces (1/4 cup) flour

Begin by preheating your oven to 450. Then grease a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (trim it if you must in order to ensure it lays flat). Combine the nuts, sugar and flour in the bowl of your food processor and process until finely ground.

Now put six room-temperature egg whites into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whip.

Whip on medium-high to about the soft peak stage and add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to help stabilize the foam.

Whip until stiff (but not dry).

Now start folding in your nut mixture in three or four additions.

You’ll have something that looks about like this when you’re done. Don’t worry about incorporating every last tiny pocket of nuts into the batter, since you’ll do the last bit of mixing as you spread the batter around on the pan.

Speaking of which, get a little fussy about this step. Spread the batter around as evenly as you can. Pay particular attention to the corners, since they usually get short-changed. If you’ve ever watched a contractor smoothing concrete, that’s about the level of scrutiny you should apply here. A toothpick is a handy tool for checking your batter depth at different spots around the pan.

Bake the batter for 7-9 minutes until it turns a golden brown, a bit longer if you’d like your layers a little firmer and drier.

Let the finished layer cool in the pan. Lightly covered, it will keep overnight at room temperature.

For Meringue Layers

Most people in the know believe meringue layers are truer to Fernand Point’s original. They have a different texture of course, but one of the big advantages to them is that they give you a finished pastry with more distinct layers. Begin by preheating your oven to 350, You’ll need:

8 egg whites
3/4 cup of your toasted nut mixture (hazelnuts or almonds or a mixture of both)
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) sugar, divided
3 tablespoons (about 1 ounce) all-purpose flour

Combine the nuts, flour and HALF the sugar in the bowl of a food processor…

…and process until finely ground.

Now put your egg whites into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whip.

Whip on medium-high to about the soft peak stage and add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to help stabilize the foam.

Whip for a few seconds, then add the rest of the sugar in a steady stream with the machine running.

About 30 seconds later you’ll have a meringue:

Now start folding in your nut mixture in three or four additions.

You’ll have something that looks about like this when you’re done. Again, don’t worry about incorporating every last tiny pocket of nuts into the batter, since you’ll do the last bit of mixing as you spread the batter around on the pan.

Scoop the batter onto your greased sheet pan and spread the batter as evenly as you can.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the meringue turns a golden brown.

Let the finished layer cool in the pan for at least an hour, until it’s not longer sticky to the touch. Lightly covered, it will keep very well overnight at room temperature.

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12 Responses to Making Marjolaine Step 5: The Layers

  1. Joudy says:

    Hi,
    I’d like to make marjolaine. The combonation of nuts, paraline and pastry cream is killing me.
    I just wanted to ask about the size of the sheet pan.
    Is it a full sheet pan?

    Thanks,

  2. Jess says:

    Hello, I need help desperately!!
    My meringue looks likes this after adding the sugar…
    http://postimage.org/image/lja3k3w0x/

    please help me! did I add the sugar too early or too late? maybe i needed more air bubbles? I am so confused… I wasted a lot of eggs trying to get this stage right :(

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Jess!

      Sorry you’re having trouble! Those whites have been over-whipped…that’s the problem. That’s why you have that grainy look and those sort of angular lines. Go a little easier on the next batch and you’ll do fine!

      Way to go taking on an ambitious project like this!

      - Joe

  3. huzaifah says:

    hi. could i have the exact size of the baking sheet used as i am in the u.k and can’t fing a half sheet. thanks

    • joepastry says:

      Great question. Here they’re about 13 by 18 inches, if that helps.

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  4. Sarah says:

    Hey there!

    I’m embarking into no-mans-land by prepping to make this delicious cake…but a GF version! Ahhh!

    My question is in regards to using almond flour (a very popular GF ingredient) Do you have any thoughts on whether that would be a suitable substitute?

    Much appreciated, and wish me luck!

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Sarah!

      I presume you mean substituting almond flour for the wheat flour. Th problem there is, if you have no wheat flour and thus no gluten, you have little-to-no bubble capture and thus little-to-no rise. And you need that. So my suggestion is to add something gummy like xanthan gum to help leaven the cake. You can find these sorts of gum additives in health food stores as you probably know! Best of luck,

      - Joe

  5. Ximena says:

    Hello Joe,
    I am a fan of your website and have been for ages; your site is my reference for all things pastry. I have tried many of your recipes with great success, taking into account the difficulty of finding some of the ingredients (I live in Colombia) and the fact that my city is located at 8700 ft above sea level.
    Today I wanted to talk to you about Marjolaine I build the whole thing a couple of weeks ago and it was great. It took me 3 days to prepare the different components, but the effort was worth it. Since I couldn’t decide if I wanted sponge cake or meringue layers, I made both. However, I was expecting the meringue layer to be a crisp layer, like the base of a pavlova, but my layer came out of the oven soft and pliable. I thought the cooking time was extremely low (12 to 15 min according to the recipe) but I followed the instructions anyway. When I peeled the parchment paper from the bottom of the meringue layer, it had an eggy smell and had to return it to the over –upside down- for a bit longer until it didn’t smell like raw eggs. I found out that there was no much difference between the sponge cake and the meringue layers. I built the Marjolaine using both the sponge and meringue layers, but the texture and flavor of these layers was very similar, and I wonder if that is the way it is supposed to be.
    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Ximena

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Ximena!

      Very nice to meet you, and that’s an excellent question. The answer is that you are correct, there is not much difference in texture between the cake-type layers and the meringue-type layers. This is why they are often used interchangeably. Some people simply prefer sponge cake, others meringue, usually because they consider the meringue more authentic.

      You are indeed an intrepid baker! I admire your dedication very much. It’s not easy to bake at that altitude. I tried it in Mexico City once and it was a disaster!

      Very nice to meet you — please comment more often! Cheers,

      - Joe

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