Home RecipesDesserts The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

by Florian
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

Okay, I have to admit this didn’t start as a Russian dessert. Back before COVID-19, Maison Kayser was one of New York’s best French pastry shops. Little by little, it had grown to a whopping 16 locations, which was probably more quality French bakeries than the entire city had ever counted. At last, one didn’t have to spend an hour in transportation to find a place selling cakes that weren’t just ugly stacks of boring sponge and buttercream layers (or worse, cupcakes, aka the cakes baked by people who can’t bake). It was there that my daughter, The Notoriously Picky Eater, fell in love with the gâteau cardinal: a raspberry mousse cake with a crème brûlée center, mounted on a thin sponge layer, finished with a raspberry glaze. The cardinal was available as a small dome-shaped cake, or as a large round cake, decorated with chocolate squares.

A few months into the pandemic, after several weeks of speculation and rumors, it was announced that Maison Kayser was closing all of its NYC branches for good. Following a failed national expansion push, the spring 2020 lockdown had been the last straw. The Notoriously Picky Eater was devastated, and I was back to taking long journeys to the few other French pastry shops in town to find a decent cake when I needed one. But there’s another problem: though gâteau cardinal in French loosely designates a chocolate sponge with a chocolate and raspberry mousse (the colors of the two ingredients explaining the name), Kayser’s version was quite different, which means that it can’t be bought anywhere else!

The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

So here I am, reverse-engineering the recipe from memory and spending my weekends lovingly recreating the beloved gâteau. As I’m not a pastry chef, desserts always take me longer to perfect than savory dishes. The first batch of sponge cake turned a sickly blue because I wanted to have raspberry purée in the batter and that’s what happens when you mix raspberries with baking soda. Then there was the challenge of creating a crème brûlée that couldn’t be baked in the oven as called for by the traditional recipe, since it had to be inserted in the middle of a cake. Then more ring molds had to be acquired, to tweak the dimensions of the various elements in the cake. Finally, there was that pesky raspberry glaze that would never solidify enough.

But one by one, I found solutions to all these issues, and The Notoriously Picky Eater recently blew out birthday candles atop a beautiful and delicious homemade gâteau cardinal à la Eric Kayser. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if I could capitalize on all this hard work and also post the recipe on my blog?

The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

After all, Russia is fond of all kinds of berries, including raspberries. Russians like cakes too. Vanilla custard and chocolate have become universal. Perhaps I could substitute vanilla with something a little bit more Russian, say… tea? I can already hear some of you argue that the UK and China also produce raspberries and drink a lot of tea (China even grows way more tea than Russia), so let’s just call my cake Russian-ish and give it a nice Russian name to deflect suspicion: the Patriarch. In the Orthodox religion, patriarchs are somewhere between the Pope and the cardinals: there’s one patriarch for the Russian Orthodox Church and one for each of the other Orthodox churches. Plus the name will remind Bulgakov fans of the Patriarch Pond in Moscow.

There are many kinds of tea, but looking up good pairings in L’Essentiel de Chartier, I see that raspberry is supposed to go particularly well with osmanthus, a fragrant yellow flower that is often consumed mixed with green tea. Osmanthus smells peachy (thanks to its gamma-Decalactone content) and floral (thanks to cis-jasmone and linalool). Lo and behold, the result isn’t just Russian-ish (emphasis on the -ish, as I’ve never drunk or seen osmanthus tea in Russia), it may even make the cake better than Kayser’s! I bought my osmanthus green tea here. Speaking of shopping, you might want to get an adjustable cake mold like this one – in the long run, it can be more convenient than accumulating a bunch of rings of different sizes.

And finally, if you want to more faithfully recreate Maison Kayser’s original cardinal cake, just replace the osmanthus tea with 7g of pure vanilla extract.

The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

The Patriarch

Yields 8 servings (one 22 cm diameter round cake)
Total preparation: 9 hours 30 minutes
Active preparation: 1 hour 45 minutes

Chocolate squares

150 g 63% dark chocolate
17 (about 100 g) large raspberries

  • Prepare a work surface with a piece of parchment paper (about 30 cm x 30 cm) below a sheet of plastic wrap (about 30 cm x 38 cm). The plastic is larger so that it extend out to stick to the work surface. The parchment paper will make it easy to slide the chocolate onto a tray, and the plastic wrap ensures that the chocolate squares can be peeled off easily.
  • In a double boiler over medium heat, bring the chocolate to 49 C / 120 F. Take out the top section of the double boiler and let the chocolate cool to 32 C / 90 F, stirring regularly. 
  • Quickly pour the chocolate onto the plastic sheet, and use a large offset spatula to spread it from left to right, then right to left. Keep spreading until the chocolate begins to have a thicker texture and forms a smooth rectangle of about 18 cm x 26 cm (you may change those dimensions depending on the size of your offset spatula). Let cool until the chocolate hardens, for 30 minutes or so.
  • Cut 24 (4 x 6) squares of 4 cm: first use a ruler to mark measurements along the perimeter of the chocolate, then cut straight lines by using a sharp knife along the ruler. Drag the parchment paper onto baking sheet, place a second piece of parchment paper over the chocolate, and cover with another baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 60 minutes. 
  • Put on latex gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on the chocolate. Peel the chocolate squares off the plastic film and store in a container. The squares can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

Raspberry purée

385 g raspberries
65 g sugar

  • Rinse the raspberries under cold water in a strainer, and drain well. Transfer to a blender, add the sugar, and process on medium speed to avoid crushing the seeds. Continue blending for about 1 minute.
  • Pass through a chinois and refrigerate in a plastic container – you should have 300-320 g of purée. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal
After this point, each recipe builds on top of the previous one to assemble the cake step by step.

Sponge cake

35 g (about 2 1/2) egg yolks
20 g raspberry purée
75 g sugar
25 g almond flour
30 g AP flour
1 g salt
70 g (about 2 1/2) egg whites
canola oil spray

  • Place the egg yolks, raspberry purée, and 2/3 of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until aerated, for about 3 minutes. Mix in the almond flour, AP flour, and salt on low speed. Transfer to another bowl and reserve.
  • After thoroughly cleaning and drying the bowl of the stand mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks using the whisk attachment. Add the remaining sugar and beat for another 4 minutes. Fold the egg whites into the batter in two additions using a spatula.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, draw a circle of 24 cm diameter, and spray with canola oil. Pour the batter into the circle, using an offset spatula to help shape it, then bake in a 200 C / 400 F oven for 7-8 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 82 C / 180 F.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool. The sponge cake can be covered with parchment paper, wrapped in plastic, and kept at room temperature for one day.
  • When you’re ready to proceed with the next step, cut the sponge cake into a disc of 22 cm diameter, and insert into a 5 cm tall ring mold of the same size, placed on a cake round.
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

Osmanthus green tea crème brûlée

1.5 g powdered gelatine
10 g water
250 g heavy cream
7 g osmanthus green tea leaves
1 pinch salt
45 g (about 3) egg yolks
55 g sugar

  • Arrange a ring mold of 15 cm diameter in the center of the sponge cake base – this is where the crème brûlée will go. As shown in the picture below, you now have a small ring mold within a larger one.
  • In a small container, soak the gelatine in the water for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the cream in a small saucepan over low heat to a temperature of 85 C / 185 F. Add the tea and a pinch of salt, cover and let steep for about 5 minutes, then strain and return to the saucepan.
  • In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together to a pale ribbon. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour the contents of the bowl into the saucepan with the rest of the cream, and stir. Cook to 85 C / 185 F over low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula. Stir in the gelatine, and let cool for a couple minutes.
  • Pour the custard into the central ring mold; the layer will be about 1.5 cm thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

Raspberry mousse

6 g powdered gelatine
25 g water
220 g raspberry purée 
95 g (about 3) egg whites
45 g sugar
200 g heavy cream

  • In a small container, soak the gelatine in the water for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the raspberry purée in a saucepan over medium heat to a temperature of 60 C / 140 F. Mix in the gelatine, transfer to a large bowl, and let cool until barely warm (about 195 F / 90 C).
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer still running on high speed, slowly pour in the sugar, and whisk for another minute. Using a spatula, fold the raspberry purée into this meringue until the mixture is perfectly homogeneous in color.
  • After cleaning and drying the bowl of the stand mixer, whip the cream to soft peaks. In a few additions, fold into the raspberry mixture using a spatula, until homogeneous in color.
  • Take the cake out of the fridge. Remove the inner ring mold around the crème brûlée, then fill the outer ring mold with the raspberry mousse, leveling the mousse with an offset spatula. The mousse will cover the crème brûlée by 1.5-2 cm. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

Raspberry glaze

7 g powdered gelatine
40 g water
320 g raspberry preserves
60 g raspberry purée
20 g sugar

  • In a small container, soak the gelatine in the water for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the raspberry preserves, raspberry purée, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat to a temperature of 60 C / 140 F. Mix in the gelatine, then strain into a small bowl and let cool until barely warm (about 195 F / 90 C). 
  • Take the cake out of the refrigerator, place it on a wire rack over a tray, and remove the ring mold. Pour all of the glaze on the center of the cake in one go. As you pour, you can move slightly off-center to make sure that all the sides are covered, but the sides will be covered with chocolate squares so they don’t have to be perfect. Don’t touch the glaze after pouring it.
  • Return the cake to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.


about 20 chocolate squares
about 17 (about 100 g) large raspberries

  • Take the cake out of the refrigerator, and trim away any glaze that spilled over the cake round (if your cake round is larger than the cake).
  • Wearing latex gloves to avoid leaving marks on the chocolate, arrange the chocolate squares along the sides of the cake so that they slightly overlap and cover the raspberry mousse entirely.
  • Arrange the raspberries on top of the cake: one in the center, the others in a circle around the perimeter. Feel free to arrange the raspberries differently and to further decorate the top with any remaining chocolate squares.
  • The cake can be kept in a cake box in the refrigerator for up to three days. I dare you to resist that long!
The Patriarch, or my Russian-ish Gâteau Cardinal

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1 comment

NELSON V. January 20, 2022 - 22:49

I like that cake which was very unique.


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