30 July 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

I am in the process of reading Julie and Julia, a great book where a lovely blogger named Julie takes on a personal challenge to make and blog about every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the span of 1 year. This is a must read, by the way (thanks Sarah for the recommendation!). Anyway, yesterday I was reading the chapter where Julie finally finishes the Oeufs en Gelée (Eggs in Aspic). She has been toiling over these darn things for more than a day, and finally finishes them after getting up at 6am Thanksgiving morning to work on them some more. Even though they looked rather unappetizing and blobby, and probably wouldn't be eaten further than an obligatory bite, she writes:

"It was 8 a.m., and though I still had a whole Thanksgiving meal left to cook, roast goose and cabbage and onions and green beans and souflée, I felt giddy with relief."

Yeah, that's kinda how I felt when I finally finished this challenge. Not like it was the hardest challenge I've done, more like the most frustrating, and not working into my schedule too well.

Working on the house seems to be my main priority these days, but I am also determined to work on my baking/blogging. And I missed the last challenge, something I am not too proud of. The Daring Bakers Rule is that you cannot miss two challenges in a row. So even though I had a million house things on my To Do list as well as friend obligations and tons of work, I was NOT going to miss another challenge and get kicked off.

I was terribly excited to make this lovely cake. So pretty! So many components! But it wasn't going to be easy, or cheap. I went out to the grocery store hopeful, though, and spent my hard-earned money on lots of eggs and hazelnuts. Then set to work. I had a whole 10 days to finish this sucker, after all.

First try: everything seemed fine. I toasted and skinned my hazelnuts. I measured, poured, carefully separated eggs. I mixed and whipped and ground my hazelnut meal. I lovingly toiled in a rather-warm kitchen for over an hour, and finally finished my batter. I poured it into my round cake pan and gently placed it in my preheated oven.

Then it got kinda bad.

I started my simple syrup while the cake baked. I hear sizzling and smell burning coming from the oven, and take a peek: oh, hurrah. Batter bubbling over everywhere, all over the inside of my oven, the thick batter coating the oven rack. Ack! I threw a sheet pan in underneath in a vain attempt to curb the overflow, but that seemed to only let out most of my heat and added a new level of cleaning to my batter-coated rack. But everything else seemed okay, so I finished up my simple syrup. The cake was supposed to be finished in 30-35 minutes, but it was still pale and wiggly at that point. I let it go to 40 minutes, then 50 minutes. Finally it started to brown and pull away from the sides of the pan. Looks done! I pulled it out and let it cool. Then I went to remove it from the pan: the sides of the cake slid out like a dream, and the center poured a sticky mess all over my counters.


Well, at that point I was out some dough and a good chunk of a Sunday morning. I was... well, not happy. I pouted around the house and angrily did the laundry (which I'm sure was hilariously entertaining for my Hubs to watch). That's it, I'm done. I give up. Let them kick me out, I figured. I didn't want to see another hazelnut as long as I lived.

But, by the next weekend (and a mere 3-4 days before posting the dreaded challenge), I had come around again. I love being a Daring Baker, and my blog is the best little hobby I've ever had. I wasn't giving up. But: I was not spending a ton of money on new supplies, and I wasn't making a damn round cake again. So I bought the generic bags of chopped hazelnuts, cheap eggs, and broke out my big jelly roll pan. It was just going to have to do.

On Attempt 2, I am pleased to say I had no problems. Glad, in fact, that I gave it another shot. I didn't want to do any sort of boring square cake, so I cut my thin jelly roll genoise into flower shapes with a cookie cutter, then assembled. Frosting was a bit trickier to say the least, but still I am proud of my slightly-ugly results. Oh, and of course then I read in the Daring Baker instructions that our cakes MUST remain round. Oopie. Well, my flower shapes are round-ish. Take it or leave it.

And I gotta say: when I finally finished photographing those suckers, even though I still had a weekend's worth of painting/drapery sewing/picture hanging to do, I felt giddy with relief :)


This one cake kinda took a header, leaving a lovely Rorschach-like blob on the plate.

Again: don't forget to check out the other lovely cakes put out by our ever-growing cult! And a big thanks to Chris for the fabulous, yummy cake recipe :)

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
(From Great Cakes by Carol Walter)

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

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 F. 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.*

Sugar Syrup
1 c. water
¼ c. 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.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 c. praline paste1
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 large egg whites
¾ c. sugar
1 ½ c. (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.

Praline Paste
1 c. hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 c. 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
2/3 c. 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
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
¾ c. 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.

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.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh... the trials and tribulations of life as a DBer! Glad your second try was a success! Looks wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Now see... THAT is the true DB spirit! And your little star (flower?)-shaped cakes are so cuuuute!

Sarah said...

Looks great and glad you were able to finish it...even if it is flower shaped (which as adorable!).

Meryl said...

I love your little mini-flowers! I got frustrated with this one too--good for you for pulling through!

Anonymous said...

Ah, Julie and Julia! I almost bought you that book, but I couldn't remember if you have that book.

Oh, and your DB challenge looks yummy!

Sarah said...

I'm glad you are enjoying "Julie/Julia". Can't wait to hear all about it once you are finished.
And I'm so glad you took another shot at this recipe--I love watching for your DB entries.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you for baking this twice! The finished product looks great!

Jen Yu said...

Oh, you're a riot. I love your shaped cakes! They are really creative and cute. Great job on the challenge!!

maybelles mom said...

Ahh, try and try again. But, I love the star shaped minis. I did them for the opera. Good job.

Jenny said...

You know, if you cooked the cake the first time as a round, then when making it the second time, you were allowed to change the shape! ;-)
Good for you for not giving up.

Jenny said...

Oh PS Julie and Julia was a good read, but man that woman needs her mouth washed out with soap! Such horrid language.

Katie B. said...

What totally adorable little cakes!! I am so glad you tried again - such cute results!

Anonymous said...

book sounds interesting i might have to look into that.

your cake turned out great in the end. i love your little flowers so cute.

Ruth said...

Glad you went for the 2nd try, Your little cakes looks great,

Deborah said...

Hey - you finished it - who cares what shape they are! I like the flowers, and think they turned out lovely!

The Irreverent Cook said...

Kudos for doing it twice and finishing it! [some] rules are made to be broken, especially when the result is so pretty =P

whitneyingram said...

I have seen a few posts of people making this and it just scares the living daylights out of me. But it looks like you did it and it looks lovely. I can only imagine how it tasted. Awful, huh? :)

Lauren said...

I love your flower mini cakes! They are so adorable!

Helene said...

You did a wonderful job! I love the star shaped cakes!

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