Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

by Chris on July 30, 2008


Its that time again! The monthly Daring Baker challenge. But, this month is a little different.The DB founders, sweet Ivonne and lovely Lis, were brave and allowed me to host July’s challenge. Oh the pressure!

Before I get to my final outcome(s), I must comment on the some Daring Baker reactions about this challenge. I wasn’t going to, but ….. I have never been one to hold my tongue, so why start now?

When thinking about what to present the (over 1000) Daring Baker bakers, I was a little self centered. (No comments from the peanut gallery…I hear you over there!) I wanted to present something I have tagged in a cookbook for some time, but would really probably never attempt unless “made” to. Well wait….there are a ton of cookbooks on my shelves riddled with post-it labeled pages, so there was a challenge in and there of itself (or however that phrase goes). Nonetheless, I have known July was my host month for more than 8 months, so you can imagine the amount of internal grappling. My decision? The Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter. I just kept thinking how cool would it be to get my piping to look like the book!

picture from Great Cakes

Well, never in my wildest imagination would I have thought this cake would arouse such a frenzy amongst the bakers. You see, the DBers have a private site with which we can write a post, ask questions, etc. Comments began almost instantly, positive and not-so-positive. There is no need to rehash the thoughts and opinions expressed, but the main issues seemed to be (a) nuts (b) buttercream (c) the potential cost of the recipe (d) limited opportunity for “tweaking”, my choice.

First, for those who emailed, posted comments, and/or responded to others in my defense. Thanks! And, it was great to preview some of the final cakes, hear the successes of those nervous as many stepped out of their comfort zone, and hear that many DBers and those who were presented with the cake enjoyed the taste and texture. I felt like a proud mama!

For those who were not pleased, I wish I could have pleased everyone. Really! But, there’s simply no way. Knowing this going in to hosting, I was not offended by others opinions, nor did/do I take anything personally. They’re opinions after all. Lord knows I have plenty of my own! And, I can’t stress over what I cannot control (i.e. other’s thoughts). I guess immuness to the mud slinging comes from having taught moody, hormonal 8th graders for 10 years, and being an middle school administrator now.

What I do know: I am honored to be a DBer. When asked to join many months ago, I was giddle. In fact, I remember calling Sharona almost immediately after Lis extended her invitation, giddy like a teen. As a newbie (and sort-of veteran, now), it did not even occur to me to reject the recipe given. But, that’s just me. I just wanted to learn new things and thought stepping out of my comfort zone would improve my baking abilities. I understood what I was getting myself into, and I emailed the host if I was confused.

Currently, we are in the thousands and span the globe. Maybe I should have taken this more into consideration, especially with the buttercream issue. I guess my excitement that my host month was finally here took over my inner baker and caused some tunnel vision. In addition, I rarely eat what I bake so I suppose I have taken it for granted that I give my food away and don’t have a family nearby to present the final challenges to.

Regardless of my thoughts/opinions about the challenges presented each month, let us remember:

– being a DBer is supposed to be fun
– monthly challenges are not competitions
– there is the option to sit out for up to 4 challenges per year
– once “sent” is hit….someone has seen it. We all need to be cognizant of who is reading. I really felt bad that first timers, already reading the recipe with trepidation, had to read some of the backlash, and
(here comes the educator in me)
– we are not being graded for this.

But enough of that…if I still have your attention, let me get to my cake…………..

Funny how it was my challenge to host, I made the cake on 2 different occasions, and neither looked they way they did in my head. Ugh. This was partly because, after several attempts, I couldn’t get the buttercream to come together, so I used a different recipe. Luckily, looks aren’t everything. According to my cake tasters, both cakes tasted great. Bowling boy dug into to first cake, although it was intended for my neighbor.

Attempt #1 – made with Hazelnuts…

But, being the boy he was, he opened the fridge and saw something he wanted to eat. Next thing I knew….the cake was cut and my neighbor was S.O.L. (out of luck) for this one.


Sliced again….

And then there was attempt #2, made with almonds and an almond praline buttercream.

Attempt #2

Given to my neighbor, who text me this pic…

and this pic…

You gotta love friends who know you’re a blogger and understand pictures are a must!

For your info – I am including the genoise measurements I used when halving the cake to make a 6-inch next with the original recipe, in red. Don’t forget, though, be sure to check out the Daring Baker blogroll to see the other beautiful cakes of all size.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Before prepping the ingredients, there were the “Can I? What if?” guidelines…

· Recipe ingredient exception allowed if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region. Otherwise, the recipe does need to have nuts…..You can use another nut, should you prefer, but carry it throughout. Don’t eat or enjoy nuts? You can be like me – make it and give it to an appreciative recipient. If allergic/too costly, please refer to the Alternative bakers for assistance.
· Alcohol is optional
· You may use a buttercream or whipped cream filling under the ganache. But, make sure you cite your source. If using a whipped cream filling, refrigerating to chill during assembly becomes extremely crucial. (I didn’t have this originally, but humidity, rain, and 3 attempts made me change my mind.) Whatever you choose, the end result must be praline.
· Buttercream garnish/decoration (see the latter part of the cake assembly) can be however you choose, but it should be on the cake in some form.
· Apricot glaze – use whatever flavor you choose, like orange or raspberry. Fresh fruit is okay for the garnish only.
· I don’t have the pan size that is noted. Use whatever round size you prefer, just know you may need to make adjustments, accordingly. This means, you may halve (not 1/3) the recipe, or make mini-cakes. But, no cupcakes and it must be round.

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 (¾ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned)
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted (1/3 cup cake flour, unsifted)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch (1 Tbsp. cornstarch)
7 large egg yolks (4 large egg yolks)
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups (½ cup sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (½ tsp. vanilla extract)
½ tsp. grated lemon rind (¼ tsp. grated lemon rind)
5 lg. egg whites (3 lg. egg whites )
¼ cup warm, clarified butter – 100 – 110 degrees (1/8 cup warm, clarified butter)

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.

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