Banana Pullman not-so-surprise Cake


I’ve never been quite so stressed about baking a cake before. This one brought a side out of me that I didn’t know existed. My prep for baking this cake was amazing; I sorted out the ingredients, measured them out and kept them aside the previous night, left all the equipment I needed on the counter so that I didn’t have to waste time looking for one during baking and I even finished a couple of elements the day before, so that I had all the time to assemble the cake.


One of the reasons why you pick a good looking cake to bake is because it’s good looking. And when your cake turns out to look vastly different from the original one, it’s more than disappointing. It happened to me this time with this Pullman cake; what was meant to be a surprise became a not so surprise in the end.


Everything was going perfectly well for me in the kitchen till I committed a few silly errors while implementing the recipe. With pretty cakes, perfection is important and ignoring the tiniest of details can cost you a lot in terms of the overall result of the cake.

So, why am I still posting this recipe then, some of you might ask. Well, the cake tasted bloody good anyway and at the risk of sounding dangerously corporate, it was a great “learning curve” for me. I want to share my baking notes with you on this one, so you don’t make the mistakes I did.


I hope Gesine Bullock-Prado doesn’t kill me. This cake was after all an inspiration from the Pumpkin Pullman Surprise cake from her book Bake it like you mean it. I meant to bake this cake with all my heart and soul but my careless mistakes got the better of me. I definitely know better now J



For tuile strips

  • 55 g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 30 g (¼ cup +1 tbsp) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp egg white, from 1 egg
  • 2½ tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder 

For Jaconde sponge

  • 90 g (⅔ cup) almond flour
  • 35 g (¼ cup) plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 35 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For cake bottom

  • 230 g (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 225 g bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 eggs
  • 150 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 40 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt

For roulade

  • 200 g almond paste
  • 9 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 65 g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 70 g (2/3 cup) confectioner’s sugar

For banana mousse

  • 5 egg whites
  • 200 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 115 g (1/2 cup) mascarpone
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered gelatin
  • 1½ cups banana puréed


 Tuile strips

  • In the bowl, cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Add the egg white and stir until just combined. Add flour and cocoa powder and mix until a smooth paste forms. Spread the tuile paste in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a long ruler, draw straight long stripes using a toothpick. Freeze the tuile for 2 hours.

Jaconde sponge

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  • Combine almond flour, plain flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse until well combined. In a bowl, combine the eggs, yolk, and half the caster sugar. Set the bowl over a saucepan half filled with gently simmering water, whisking constantly until the sugar has completely melted.
  • With the food processor running, pour the egg mixture into the almond flour until just combined.
  • Whisk the egg whites until just foamy. Slowly add the remaining caster sugar and whisk until medium-stiff peaks form.
  • Fold in the egg whites to the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the melted butter.
  • Remove the tuile stripes from the freezer. Spread the joconde batter over the frozen tuile. Bake for about 4 minutes, until the center of the cake is no longer sticky to the touch. Allow to cool.

 Cake bottom

  • Preheat the oven to 165°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  •  In a bowl, combine the butter and chocolate. Place the bowl over a bain marie to melt the ingredients.
  • In a bowl, add eggs, caster sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and whisk until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the melted chocolate. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan in a layer that’s a little less than ½ inch thick (reserve remaining batter for later).
  •  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and let it cool.


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper.
  • Roll the almond paste between two sheets of parchment paper into 9-by-14-inches.
  •  In a bowl, combine egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar and whisk until just foamy. Add ½ cup of caster sugar and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  • In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, remaining caster sugar, and vanilla extract and whisk on high until the yolks are pale yellow and the batter ribbons when you lift the whisk.
  • Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Sift the cocoa powder over the egg mixture and fold into the batter until just combined.
  • Using a large offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over a clean tea towel and turn the cake out onto the towel. Peel the parchment paper off the cake.
  • Place the rectangle almond paste over the cake. Using the kitchen towel to help you, roll the cake into a Swiss roll and allow to cool completely.

 Banana Mousse

  • In a bowl, combine egg whites, sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a bain marie and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted. Cook until the mixture reaches 160°F on the candy thermometer. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk until the egg whites have doubled in volume and stiff peaks form.
  • In a bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks. Add mascarpone cream. Fold the cream into the egg white mixture and set aside in the refrigerator.
  • Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tbsp of water. Gently heat it in a microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Add a small amount of banana purée to the gelatin to temper it. Now, add the gelatin mixture to the purée and stir to combine. Then gently fold the chilled egg white mixture into the purée until incorporated.


  • Line a 13 inch Pullman loaf pan with cling film wrapper such that it hangs on the either sides.
  • Measure the décor side of the joconde and trim the width of the sides to 12 inches. Transfer the décor side, pattern-side down, to the loaf pan. Press tightly so that the pan is fully lined. Trim any joconde that is draping over the edge of the pan.
  •  Spread half of the mousse in the loaf pan over the sponge. Trim the roulade to 12½ in length and lower it into the loaf pan to rest on the mousse. Spread the remaining mousse over the roulade and gently smooth with a small offset spatula.
  • Trim the bottom cake layer to 13 by 4 inches and press the layer on the mousse.
  •  Freeze until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • To serve, invert the loaf pan on a cake platter. Tap the sides and the bottom of the pan for the cake to release. Thaw the cake for a couple of hours in the refrigerator before serving.



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