This month’s Daring Bakers‘ challenge was a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, or simply put, a chocolate hazelnut cake. It’s only my second time participating in the Daring Bakers, and I’m already wondering if I’ll last the year. Making this cake took me a long time, but it was definitely worth the effort. It was crazy delicious, and I got to share it with my sister-in-law and all her bridesmaids. Thanks to Chris at Mele Cotte for hosting.
Unfortunately, my posts next month might be a bit scarce as I’ll be doing some traveling for work and for some friends’ weddings. August seems to be the most popular month to get married among my friends. And on that note, can you believe it’s already August? The summer is reaching its final days, which makes me dread the cold that will soon follow. You guys have no idea how much I dislike the winter. I used to say I hate the winter, but I’m trying to be mildly more positive. I prefer hot and humid weather so much more than cold and snowy weather, so I get sad when summer winds down. Well, I’ll just have to make the most of what’s left of it, right?
Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
from Great Cakes by Carol Walter
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp cornstarch
7 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided into 1/4 and 3/4 cups
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 tspn grated lemon rind
5 egg whites
1/4 cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)
1. Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10×2 inch round cake pan.
2. 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. Set aside.
3. 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. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.
4. 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.
5. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
6. Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it into the egg mixture about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture.
7. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remains, 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.
8. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.
9. 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.
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1. In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream (below)
1/3 cup praline paste (also below)
1. Blend 1/2 cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.
2. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.
4 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 1/2-2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1 tspn vanilla
1. Place the egg whites in a large 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).
2. 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.
3. 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. Set aside.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup sugar
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
3. Then spread evenly onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.
4. 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.
2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp water
1. 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.
2. 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.
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
6 oz heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
¾ tspn vanilla
½ – 1 tspn hot water, if needed
1. Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.
2. 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.
3. 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 tspn hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable.
1. Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 2 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.
2. Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Garnish the cake by piping the reserved praline cream in any desired way.
7. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.
8. Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.