Zebra Cake or Fan Torte`

Zebra Cake or Fan Torte`, originally uploaded by Theresa111.

When I checked my pastry arts notebook, I said “Wow, this will be a challenge to explain.”

A roulade` is a rolled-up sponge cake. The batter is spread into, if you will, a jelly roll rectangular shaped pan. Then it is baked very quickly. You can make these cakes ahead and once cooled can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen. Pull them out as you need them and they also are perfect to use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes of cake to place onto the bottom of those wonderful frozen mousse` desserts.

The characteristics of a sponge cake is it’s tendency to be dry and dense. When brushed or spritzed with a liquor flavored simple syrup, it immediately soaks up and absorbs the liquid. Hence the sponge cake drinks the application and miraculously it has now becomes moist and succulent.

The Zebra Cake was named thus because of the way it looks once it is cut into and plated for customers or guests to enjoy. This cake shown here was destined to be transported to a party and as such our chef instructor did not cut into it. Hey, I feel the same way!

To continue, because of the unusual assembly of the cake it has a layered appearance like stripes and so resembles a zebra effect. We’ll pretend you are assembling this cake.

Using the height of the tempered chocolate rectangular pieces already cut, you will determine the height of the cake (you can see the pieces are relatively the same size.) Now take one-half sheet pan size roulade` cake and spread it with 1/8″ hazelnut flavored butter cream.

Trim the edges and then cut the cake into four (strips … slightly wider than the height of the chocolate) pieces. Tightly roll up the first section. Place this onto the second piece. Roll the second piece encasing the first roulade` and keep it pretty tight. Take the now doubled roulade` and place it onto the third piece. Repeat. Tighten. Take the now tripled roulade` and place it onto the last piece. Repeat, Tighten around the edges. Wrap tightly and chill.  Place it like a wheel into the fridge, support it to stand up.

Remove from the fridge after well chilled and using a (pastry only) dry pastry brush, gently brush away any crumbs. Use a very sharp and hot knife to cut off both ends so the cake will be perfectly level. Turn the cake over and proceed to ice with butter cream once. This is the crumb coat. Return it unwrapped to fridge to chill once again.

The roulade` is like a wheel that will be turned on it’s side and iced with a thicker layer of hazelnut butter cream. Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Place the chocolate pieces around the base. Pipe perfectly whipped cream with a star tip, onto the top of the cake as they will support the triangle strips of cut tempered chocolate, when placed on their sides. Now you have a fan torte`.


5 thoughts on “Zebra Cake or Fan Torte`

    • Aisha,

      I have to say that I loved my French culinary school. I graduated seven years ago after completing the pastry arts curriculum at L’Academie de Cuisine, located outside Washington, D.C. and I wish I could go there every week. It was well worth it and I still refer to all of my notes (we took copious amounts) and the time there is forever a part of my makeup as a cook and baker.

      I will tell you that when you start off in the professional kitchens the pay is lousy and the romance gets thrown out the window. You have to be a strong person to handle the job … lots of bending and heavy lifting and hoisting. You may never sit or lean on your table … you stand all day long. The food you get to eat as a member of staff is horrible (major hotel), nothing like the food you get to sample in culinary school, and be ready to be bossed around … a lot!

      Aside from this, it is satisfying to know that I did this as a mature adult and was competing with kids fresh out of high school, so I had to perform twice as hard. This is primarily a man’s world and women have to perform twice as hard as men. Is this fair? In one word … no.

      One day I hope to have my own Jazz Cafe but in the meantime … I have my kitchen and my blog. I wish you the very best and I hope you will drop in and see more of what I like to prepare. You are always welcome.


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