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Recipe: filbert gateau with praline buttercream

It is Daring Bakers time again, kids. This month’s challenge was hosted by the lovely Chris of Mele Cotte. She chose a filbert gateau with praline buttercream, by Carol Walter. Thank you, Chris, for hosting this month! Be sure to have a looksee at the rest of the Daring Bakers’ creations!

the daring bakers: we knead to bake

I am quite the fan of hazelnuts, so I was pleased to see a hazelnut-based recipe for the challenge. Of course, I only skimmed the recipe before getting started. It goes like this every month. I skim the recipe and think everything looks pretty good. Then I select a day when I have the time to devote to the challenge. Then I get started.

if you can buy them skinned, do so

pulsing the hazelnuts with flour and cornstarch

The hazelnut genoise had several steps to it. I used to be all about following the recipe. Now I know better. I am all about making my life not suck. I like to purchase hazelnuts that are already skinned if possible, because I have skinned hazelnuts before and it drives me to insanity.

pretty yellow yolks

beaten to ribbon stage

The genoise required pulsing the nuts into a meal, beating egg yolks to ribbon stage, and beating egg whites to a meringue. Then all of this was incorporated together in the most annoying little itty bitty steps. I think Carol is all about little itty bitty steps. The woman has too much time on her hands. I think if she had been in the kitchen standing next to me during my challenge, I would have throttled her.

fold this into that

fold the nutmeal into the batter, one itty bitty bit at a freaking time

Carol is really into adding ingredients a little at a time. Her recipe made me cuss a lot, not to mention it was a very hot day, so I cussed some more. Then I took the blasted cake out of the oven and I had some choice words for no one in particular.


The cake cratered in the middle, although it was completely set. I’m sure it was the altitude as everything folded just fine and I had no settling or stratification of nuts from the egg. And when I inverted it (after loosening the sides and most of the base), the center still stuck to the bottom of the pan. When I was greasing and flouring the pan, I did give pause and considered using a parchment base like I do with every other genoise I make, but I stupidly trusted the recipe. Goddammit. Instead of a 10-inch cake, I had to scavenge the damn thing for as many 3-inch layers as possible. This was starting to piss me off. At $10 a pound for hazelnuts, there was no way in hell I even considered baking it a second time. Screw that.

swiss meringue buttercream, my way

When I read the recipe instructions for the Swiss meringue buttercream, more profanity ensued. By now I was no longer in a mood to entertain following the instructions anymore. The cake had cratered, it was hot, and I still had what? a gazillion more steps and Carol Walter had it in her head to add the sugar to the egg whites one microgram at a time? No thanks, lady. I used the Swiss meringue buttercream technique I learned in my pastry class.

Call me pissy, but I wasn’t going to make praline paste either. Did I mention that the heat makes me cranky? Yessireebob, it does. I had hazelnut butter in the fridge and I used that to make my praline buttercream. Not only does Carol Walter appear to have infinite time to add sugar to egg whites or nut meal to cake batter in tiny little increments, but she must also enjoy generating and washing thousands of dishes. I hate her.

piping whipped cream

glazing the cakes

I had serious issues with the structural composition of the cake(s). Whipped cream on top of buttercream in between layers? Carol doesn’t say to add a crumb coat, but that is exactly what we needed instead of applying warm apricot glaze to the whole cake. Why? Because that warm apricot glaze just melted the buttercream on contact and refused to adhere to the sides. Great idea, Carol. GREAT. I was only able to glaze the tops of the cakes with apricot glaze. And for the chocolate ganache glaze, I did a 1:1 chocolate to whipping cream because I was fed up with the recipe.

In the end, I thought the concept was a nice one, but the recipe blew. Maybe if it were winter, I would have been more receptive. But the execution of this whole thing seemed to be far more complicated than it needed to be to achieve these results. I am not one who likes to make my life more difficult than necessary, and Carol Walter made my life more difficult than necessary. She is forever banned from my kitchen. Overall, I thought the cake was okay – not awesome, not terrible.

it wasn’t easy getting here

verdict: meh

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

[print recipe]

from Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise

1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum

1 recipe Praline Buttercream

1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1 recipe Apricot Glaze

1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using

3 tbsps 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 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned

2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted

2 tbsps cornstarch

7 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar, divided 1/4 & 3/4 cups

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp grated lemon rind

5 large egg whites

1/4 cup warm, clarified butter (100–110°F)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10×2-inch round cake pan. [Jen’s notes: use a parchment circle in the bottom of the pan and butter over that.]

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 3/4 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 1/4 cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another 1/2 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 tablespoons 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

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsps 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 [Jen’s note: I used hazelnut butter]

1 1/2-2 tbsps Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend 1/2 cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

swiss meringue buttercream

[Jen’s note: I didn’t use this method, I followed the quantities, but used this method for swiss meringue buttercream instead.]

4 large egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm

1 1/2-2 tbsps Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice

1 tsp vanilla

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). 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 tablespoons of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120°F) 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 too soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 tablespoons 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.

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

[Jen’s note: I skipped this process and subbed hazelnut butter.]

1 cup (4 ½ oz) hazelnuts, skinned and toasted

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 minutes 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

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt

6 oz. heavy cream

1 tbsp light corn syrup

1 tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)

3/4 tsp vanilla

1/2-1 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!

Assemby: 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 tablespoons of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a 1/4-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with half of the whipped cream, leaving 1/4-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-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.

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.

July 30th, 2008: 1:22 am

filed under baking, cake, chocolate, dairy, daring bakers, dessert, recipes, sweet

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