July’s Daring Bakers Challenge: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

July 30, 2008

 

When the Daring Bakers challenge for July was revealed (graciously hosted by Chris of Melecotte), I have to admit I didn’t squeal with excitement.  As much at the cake itself sounded absolutely delicious, cake decorating is a skill I just don’t possess and no matter how many cakes I make, they all end up looking a little lopsided with bumpy frosting and uneven piping.  But not one to walk away from a challenge, I tried to think of a way I could forgo star tips but still use the required buttercream. 

With a cakestand like that, how could I possibly pass on an Indian-inspired cake? 

I eventually hit upon the idea for a henna design for the cake for several reasons:  the busy design would hide a multitude of sins in my ganache (which I knew would never be smooth and flawless), I have a good hand for free-form drawing, and it’s pretty.  The best laid plans, however, have a way of going very awry, and my cake and buttercream just didn’t behave.

Things I learned on this Daring Bakers Challenge:

  1. Do not buy no-name cheap butter.  And for goodness sake, do not try to clarify said cheap butter.
  2. Do not try to do delicate piping with buttercream that actually had solids in it that can and will clog the tip.
  3. Do not try to take the skins off 4 cups of hazelnuts at one time (unless you like standing by the sink rinsing hazelnuts and your hands for an hour and are on very good terms with a chiropractor).
  4. I need to buy a better food processor.

And now for the amazing 4 page recipe that took 2 days to complete:

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds.  Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture.  You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process.  Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar.  It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step.  When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.  Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind.  Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute. 
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.*  Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds.   Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter.  Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.  **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter!  It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.  Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan.  Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.  *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved.  The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.  Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My  buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed  butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet.  Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals.  If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides.  Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.  **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.  Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place.  Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm.  If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm – great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil.  Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate.  Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake.  Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings.  Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center.  Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance.  The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Licking the chocolate ganache off the pan:  does life get any better?

 

So even though I was forced to use a larger #4 piping tip, rather than the delicate #2 I had planned on, I wasn’t terribly disappointed in the henna design.  (I especially like the photos when I shrink them down to 10%.)  After letting the cake firm up in the fridge for a few hours, I cut clean slices while it was very cold.  I then brought the cut slices to room temperature, which (unlike the recipe which says to keep the cake out for 3 hours) in this July heat wave, took all of 10 minutes. 

The verdict?  The genoise had a wonderful crunch which satisfied the nut-lover in me, while the buttercream had the most unexpected bite of the unbroken bits of caramelized sugar and hazelnuts.  This genoise was moister the jaconde from the Opera Cake from May and more “cake-like.”  My often picky husband gave it the thumbs up.  On to August’s Challenge!

Advertisements

36 Responses to “July’s Daring Bakers Challenge: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream”

  1. cookingupafamily Says:

    your cake turned out AWESOME! I love the henna design. It looks great with the money cake stand, too cute.

  2. Szkrabeka Says:

    Your children are sooo sweet…and that’s how your cake looks, too! Fabulous!

  3. Chris Says:

    I love the henna design! I am so impressed you were able to survive the chunks in the tip. I was ready to throw mine across the room! 🙂 and your beautiful children – what a great captured moment.

  4. Aparna Says:

    The piping got me too.
    But you still managed a beautiful look to your cake. Really love the pattern.

  5. Christine Says:

    I love that cake stand!! I also agree with you on skinning the hazelnuts and I need a bigger food processor too! Your cake looks beautiful!

  6. redactedrecipes Says:

    I really like your piping! And that photo of your children is sweet as can be!


  7. This challenge tested my nerves also! But in the end, the kids love blobs of lumpy ganache scraped from a pan even more than smooth ganache on a beautiful cake!

  8. marye Says:

    Oh yeah, clogged tip…very irritating!
    Your came came out lovely!

  9. Michelle Says:

    Love your design and that cake stand is a hoot!!! I always love visiting your blog to see your beautiful children!

  10. giz Says:

    Really incredible job and isn’t it fun when the kids can join in and have such delicious left overs. Your cake design is absolutely lovely.

  11. Jo Says:

    Love your cake and the cake plate as well. Also the kids look as if they were really enjoying themselves.

  12. lauren Says:

    i love your piping work! mmmm…and i did exactly what the kids did with the chocolate that dripped down from my cake!

  13. Laurie Says:

    It looks absolutely beautiful! Your piping work is exceptional! 🙂

  14. Medhaa Says:

    Love the henna design and the cake stand. Lovely


  15. As usual, beautiful job on the cake, and gorgeous photos to show us how you did it! – LOVE the cake stand, that’s just awesome 🙂

  16. Namratha Says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Very nicely done.

  17. jillian Says:

    The henna design is beautiful. I may have to try that on my next cake, and that is the cutest cake stand ever!

  18. Lisa Says:

    What a beautiful idea! Your creativity is fabulous! Oh how I want to go back and do that layer of buttercream around the outside – to make the ganache smoother!!

  19. TERESA Says:

    My veredict is ……..wonderful¡¡¡¡ Your cake looks beautiful, Congratulations¡¡¡

  20. Dayna Says:

    I have loved your cake since it was first posted on the boards. This is such a clever way to decorate. Nice job!

  21. Amber Says:

    Absolutely beautiful cake! Congratulations on a successful challenge, this was a tough one.

  22. Mary Says:

    Stunning as ALWAYS. And I love that plate!


  23. kick, kick, kick my butt, why didn’t I think of that???
    Sooo pretty.

  24. Lorrie Says:

    nice piping! thats a great idea!

  25. Gina Says:

    Wow, I have tons of respect for your tenacity! That cake must have taken you at least 10 hours to complete!! What a wonderful, creative idea the henna design was; I love it. Where, BTW, did you find that cake stand? It’s fabulous

  26. Kevin Says:

    Great job decorating that cake!

  27. Mrs Ergül Says:

    The henna design on the cake looks spectacular!


  28. Your cake is ultra cool, but what to say about that monkey cake stand?

  29. Kitchen Goddess Says:

    I love the hanna design on the cake, it is absolutely beautiful.

  30. Krista Says:

    Wow, I love the henna design! And that cake stand has me envious!

  31. stilllifeinbuenosaires Says:

    D@mn, girl. Your concoctions always look too wonderful to eat.

    I love the henna idea. The light icing on a dark background looks awesome. Nice work–I respect your commitment to the details.


  32. Wow! your decoration is stunning, well done!

  33. Lauren Says:

    Ahh! I love your decoration, it is truly beautiful! Henna is always so pretty.

  34. Foodycat Says:

    Your mehindi cake decorating is beautiful! Gives a really nice point of difference to the other versions.

  35. Pinky Says:

    That cake stand is amazing, the the henna frosting idea is great. I can only imagine how challenging it would be with bits of nut in the frosting though.
    When toasting hazelnuts, the toastier they are they easier it is to skin them. They can be almost black on the outside and still be good. And if you have a large mesh strainer or sifter, use your hands to roll them around across the wires. It breaks up the skins much faster.


  36. Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” contains a catchy title. It has an idea of bravery mixed confidently. There is nothing Pollyanna about that. I might not exactly support every little thing he says, but he’s our president, and for me, he inspires trust. Which will do more for a region than any volume of backroom deals. Hope gives us energy, and energy sustains us through trying times. Boy, we’ve had them. I’m from West Texas, and I did not vote for Bush. When McCain ran against Obama, I was a citizen of Arizona, but I gave audacious hope a chance. The fight for progress and laying the foundations of prosperity will not be over. I’ve seen the quips of those who don’t think Obama is capable of doing it. But step back a moment. Would anyone have most of us fail only to tarnish the star of an incumbent for whom they didn’t vote? Trying to keep our priorities straight, let’s work together with our president and build our future.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: