As you all know, I’m trying to be a more daring baker, so here’s another attempt. Our hostess this month, Chris of Mele Cotte, chose to challenge us with: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream.
For me, this was a tad of a challenge not because of the recipe, but because of the ingredients. That’s one reason I had been putting off baking all month and finally buckled down at the last minute. Yep, I finished baking at 2 this morning
I’m glad I’m not the only one who had the problem finding hazelnuts. The only hazelnut I saw at our local grocery store was hazelnut flavored coffee. I went to another store and they just happened to have some chopped hazelnuts, so I went ahead and got those in case I can’t find whole ones. I’m glad I did because I never did find whole hazelnuts and I was afraid to grind the chopped ones for the cake part because they still had their skins on and I wasn’t sure if that was going to make the cake bitter. Instead, I did what someone else suggested on the Daring Baker forum, which was to use the leftover almond meal from last month’s Opera Cake challenge.
I noticed I’ve been saying this with every challenge, but I am finding out to be more true with each challenge. The recipe is long and it has many parts but if you tackle each one at a time and just go step by step, you’ll find that it really isn’t that bad. I started out by using the chopped hazelnuts to make the praline. Of the pralines, I set a couple of tablespoons aside for the decoration, then processed the rest into a paste. The sugar syrup, I cooked while the cake was baking, and while the cake was cooling, I made the apricot glaze. So don’t let the length of the recipe scare you, break it up in stages if you have to, just jump in and dare to bake too
So without further ado, here is the recipe for this month. [I’ve noted my comments and changes to the recipe in brackets] I had intentions of photographing each step, but some of the steps required speed and attention so I didn’t have time to photograph every step. I was also cooking dinner while baking the cake, so it got pretty confusing in the kitchen. My cake decorating skills are nil, let me say that off the bat. I also didn’t have the right size decorating tip required, so I made do with what I had. I couldn’t use my tiny leaf tip because the nuts kept stopping it up so I switched to the biggest star tip I had. It still got stopped up with nuts and I had to stop in between to pick the nut out of the tip with a toothpick. Anyway, along with my sucky decorating skills and fast melting buttercream, I think it came out pretty nice. I love the chocolate glaze on top, it made it look so smooth and professional looking. lol!
Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
[These are the seven (7, yeah, I know ) parts of this cake and each one of them has it’s own set of ingredients and instructions. I forgot to mention in my intro that I totally missed the whipped cream part. I kept seeing instructions about a whipped cream and couldn’t figure out what the heck they were talking about. LOL! It’s only now that I’m writing up this post that I see what I missed. Although given the amount of butter and sugar used for this recipe, I probably didn’t need the extra whipped cream.]
1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum [I didn’t have rum so I used lemon juice instead since I had to zest one lemon anyway]
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks [omitted this one by accident 😛 ]
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped [I used some of the praline instead]
[So here are the recipes:]
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned [from the forum, I substituted 2 cups of almond meal, minus 2 Tablespoons]
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks [the eggs I had were on the small side, so I used 8]
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.
[You get to skip this step if you use almond meal. Just mix all your flours together in a bown and you’re done]
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.
[I only have one mixing bowl with my mixer, so I had to pour the yolk mixture into another bowl and clean the mixing bowl for the next step. When you do this, keep in mind that egg whites don’t like to peak when there’s oil around. Make sure the bowl is grease free. ]
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.
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 [This sections has two sub recipes, the buttercream and the praline]
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional) [did not add]
Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum. [I was actually getting tired at this point so I just dumped the praline paste into the buttercream and mixed. It didn’t seem to hurt it any.]
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 electric 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 over beat*. 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 over beat 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.
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless [I used chopped hazelnuts with skins on]
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.
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.
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, Cointreau, 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 THE CAKE
Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.
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.
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-ich 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.
[I started to get lazy and not cut the sides, but then I realized the ganache will not flow right if I left the sides of the cake uneven. So make sure you do this. You can eat the scraps to keep your energy up. You’re almost there at this point!]
[After you trim the sides, also don’t forget to brush the cut edges with the apricot glaze so that you’ll have a nice, clean side for the chocolate ganache to cling to.]
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.
To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.
[Or you can just freestyle your decoration as i did ]
Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.
Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I may update this post later with a photo of the cut cake. Since I didn’t finish baking until 2 a.m., I haven’t tasted it yet. I’ll save it for tonight, while I’m browsing through all the other Daring Bakers posts. This was tiring, but fun. Thanks again Chris for hosting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge.