What is marjolaine? The Great British Bake Off technical challenge explained

Are you craving delicate French desserts? The marjolaine is the queen of cakes, so read up on how to perfect your layers and mix meringues

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Fancy layered chocolate gateaux are common pâtisserie world habitués, but as is characteristic of this complicated form of French baking, there’s a bit more to them than sandwiching cream and cake. 

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Enter marjolaine, the grand doyenne of gateau. This deliciously light, beautifully layered creation is a variation of a hazelnut dacquoise. It’s a rectangular cake decorated with a dark chocolate ganache and a crosshatch pattern. Invented by restauranteur Fernand Point, traditionally, the dessert is made with layers of nutty meringue sandwiched between two flavours of crème pâtisserie. It’s then covered in glossy chocolate ganache and decorated with nuts (usually almond or hazelnut) to finish. 

While some people may choose to adapt the recipe and use sponge (as pictured above), its original iteration is flourless, making the texture is light and airy, despite its hefty seven layers. 

The BBC Good Food team has put together some top tips on perfecting the different elements of a marjolaine cake. 

Tips for the perfect marjolaine cake

For the dacquoise (nutty meringue) layer

  • Don’t over mix the nuts and meringue or the oil from the nuts will loosen the mixture, meaning you will lose some of the air.
  • Sieve your ground nuts to remove any larger chunks and keep them uniform.

For the ganache

  • Try to keep the temperature of the ingredients as close as possible before combining – room temperature chocolate and warm milk, rather than fridge-cold chocolate and hot milk, as this may cause the ganache to split.

For the meringue buttercream

  • Invest in a good sugar thermometer, it’s important to take the sugar syrup to the exact temperature for the perfect consisteny.

Meringue magic

If you’re having trouble with those cloud-like bakes, this meringue guide will walk you through the path to perfect pavlovas.

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Need some extra inspiration for crisp and chewy meringues? Visit bbcgoodfood.com,