Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge:Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

In my usual procastinator fashion, I approached this month challenge almost on the last minute. The last weekend before the posting date to be exact. I envisioned the cake to be the perfect dessert to serve in the intimate dinner party we hosted, with lots of oohs and ahhs, sighs of admiration from our guests. Except I underestimated the amount of time required for the cake and the dinner itself.


In my limited time, I managed to cover the cake in ganache, but unfortunately not enough time to do any buttercream decoration. The gateau did leave our guests speechless, probably because they didn't know what to say about the half-naked cake. However, after sampling the cake, they heartily offered their compliments. I know they didn't say this out of politeness, because the two couples volunteered to bring back the remaining cake!

My verdict:
The gateau with its multiple components tasted nice. I followed the recipe and didn't alter anything because I liked to see how the original recipe tasted.The only glitch was the genoise, which I found to be slightly dry. I should have used more sugar syrup. The praline buttercream that was made from scratch, was time consuming and a pain to make, because I had to grind the praline paste multiple times in my small coffee grinder. I must not forget to mention the amount of bowls and plates that awaited cleaning after making each component.

But all the work was worth the effort. My dinner guests loved the gateau, which was all that mattered. After making them eat the burnt lemongrass chicken dish, I was glad that the dinner ended on a high note.

Thank you Chris, our July Daring Baker host for choosing this recipe. I am glad that I get the opportunity to make praline paste finally. There's still some leftover and I look forward to playing with it in another recipe, along with the few egg yolks leftover.

Apology for the poor quality photos! It was really stressful to take photos under 5 pairs of eager eyes, all waiting for the dessert to be served. Check out my fellow Daring Bakers' takes on this month challenge here


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

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic 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-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.

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.

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


Y said...

By the looks of your cake, I'm sure politeness had nothing to do with it! :)

Manggy said...

"Burnt lemongrass chicken dish?" Hahaha :) I'm sure it wasn't that bad. But I would forget all my problems if I had a bite of such a delicious-looking cake! Well done Mandy! (Don't worry about the lack ofbuttercream decor on top-- it looks great as it is.)

Dhanggit said...

i love the way you decorated your filbert!! great use of cherries!! well done for this month's challenge

una donna dolce said...

I wouldn't call those pictures poor quality - it looks clean and simple!

Veron said...

I think the cake is beautiful in its simple glaze. And I hear ya about the amount of dishes and bowls to cleaned!

Chelle said...

Absolutely beautiful cake!

Sarah said...

I thought mine was dry too...I love the simplicity of your cake decorations. Sometimes that is best.

Dwiana's kitchen said...

I never make gateau... I think you are very good on baking cake. the result is always look beautiful and delish.

RecipeGirl said...

No apologies needed... I love the simple addition of cherries on top :) Great job!

breadchick said...

I love the simple cherries on top, elegant!

I know about the "eager beavers" wanting to eat the cake while you snap pictures. The neighbors were all crowded around the table while I was trying to take pictures and kept moving in like zombies so I had to snap fast and get out of the way!!

Jen said...

The cake did take forever to make (and I'm glad someone else used a ton of dishes too- I thought it was just me in my disorganized state). I'm glad you like it though.

Laurie said...

The photo's look nice! I also like the cherries on top!

Courtney said...

your cake looks beautiful. i love your cherries on top. glad all your guest enjoyed the cake after all your hard work,

Grace said...

Hahaha ,How lucky am I to be one of "the 5 pairs of eyes" !!! Wanna know how good was the cake?
Top notch!!!Absolutely top notch !!! Hubby and I had to fight to get the last piece.:P and I believe Toutou got her piece the same way.:D

Aparna said...

May be "half naked" in your eyes, but just gorgeous in mine.

Snooky doodle said...

really nice presentation and nice cake. yummy you re great. Can I have some now ????? :-)

Deborah said...

I love your "naked" cake - I actually think it looks quite elegant! Great job!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

I'd eat it! It looks amazing! I love simple clean lines.

Venus ~ Vi said...


The cake looks wonderful! Love the cherries on top! It was time consuming, wasn't it?! I feel you on all that cleaning afterward! However, I ended up not doing many because I bribe my cousin with the cake so she did the dishes =)

farida said...

looks great, and with cherries on top - yum! I skipped this month's challenge.

Kevin said...

Your cake looks great! You got an amazing finish to the chocolate ganache glaze!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Beautifully done, glad your guests liked it!

Kate / Kajal said...

that my friend looks like the perfect slice of pure bliss ! dont know what are the other things you are whining about :p but sweetheart i'd be a happy gal if my cake looked as gorgeous as that at the end of the day.

ashleystravel said...

Yours looks like it turned out fantastic. I thought mine was a tiny bit dry too, but I thought it was because of all the nuts in the flour.

Tartelette said...

Yor cake turned out superb in all its nakedness :) Well done again!

emily said...

Hi! Accidentally stumbled across your blog. Great photos of your desserts and various other misc things. :)

Piggy said...

I have no idea how the original cake should look like, but yours looks GREAT! I feel like grabbing a bite right now! I've yet try out such difficult recipes, my hat off to you!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks amazing. Sure it doesn't have buttercream on top, but it has it inside, right? The cherries look wonderful!

cakebrain said...

Wow, this cake turned out so beautifully! Way to go!

Aran said...

i love what you did with the challenge mandy! gorgeous!

daphne said...

the photos look wonderful! nonsense abt it not being nice!

I love that! If only I could hv a slice...

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Good job! I'm sure your guests loved it.

Kate / Kajal said...

Looks divine, just like every creation of yours !

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