Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
 -July Daring Bakers - My First Challenge

This was my first Daring Bakers challenge. Boy, was it a challenge!! Chris of Mele Cotte was our hostess this month, and she chose a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. Who knew a cake recipe could be so long? The first time I printed it out it was about 7 pages! It took me about 8 hours to finish the whole thing. It probably would have gone quicker if I had a good way to skin hazelnuts and a 3 year old daughter who doesn't like cake.

The recipe is below with pictures and comments for some of the steps.

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.



Hazelnuts before the scraping. The skinning of the hazelnuts was horrible! After 2 hours of scraping the skins off I gave up. Some of them still had skink bits left on.

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. Cook 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.




I was so proud when I pulled my cake out of the oven. Then I was even more excited when it just fell out of the pan. No sticking what so ever. It was so pretty…until…Agnes the Horrid came along. I was busy making another part of the recipe so I wasn’t really pay attention to what she was doing. BIG MISTAKE! When I turned around she had taken huge bites out of one side of the cake. LOL She just looked up at me and said “Good.” Then walked out of the kitchen licking her lips. I guess this is why it called Daring Bakers!!

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.



We don’t like GM very much and I didn’t want to buy a wee bottle so I used Kahlua. It was divine!

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.



I didn’t add the additional Kahlua. I didn’t think it needed it for flavor. It was already delish!!

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.



I used my immersion blender. It seemed to help get it to the “marshmallow” stage quickly.

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.



I was lucky my buttercream worked like a dream. This is the best icing I have ever tasted. Oh my. It is so rich and decadent! I can’t wait to use this on another cake. It is so light and easy to decorate with. It tastes so grown up and fancy.

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.





This was the only part that gave me some trouble. I had to make two batches of the brittle. My first batch was a wee bit burnt. This stuff is so good. I am surprised there was any left after I taste-tested it over and over. I didn’t grind mine all the way into a paste. I wanted to be able to sprinkle it on stuff. I have used to decorate this cake, in the buttercream, and I have also used it to top a new cookie bar recipe.


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!



All I am going to say is YUM!!

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. 




Here you can see the damage Miss Agnes did to my beautiful cake! ☺

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.




I didn’t follow the decoration suggestions. I figured since my cake was lopsided and lumpy from “the incident” that I would just do a simple decoration and try to hide some of it with a border and drop flowers. I sprinkled praline crumbles onto the little drop flowers.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Sean, Agnes (very small piece), and I each had a piece the same day I finished it. We couldn’t wait for it to set for a few hours. The next day I sliced a piece for myself and sent the rest to Sean’s office with him. It was a thousand times better the next day. Everyone at Sean’s office absolutely loved it.


I would definitely make this cake again. It was worth the 2 hours of peeling hazelnuts, Agnes destroying my cake, and discovering the most wonderful icing on the face of the earth. However, it is an extremely decadent cake. This recipe is only coming out for a special occasion and then only if it is requested.

I wonder what next months challenge is going to be!

15 comments:

Gina said...

Congrats on your first challenge. Welcome to the group. Your cake turned out lovely.

Michelle Dargen said...

Thanks Gina. I love this group. It is so much fun. I can't wait until next month too!!

Mary Ann said...

good job on your first challenge. That is so funny that your daughter ate a chunk of the cake!

Leslie said...

2 hours of peeling hazelnuts...AGGGHHH.I fell your pain! I too am enjoying the Aring Bakers! I am excited to see Aug challenge!

Lina said...

your first challenge turned out wonderful! It looks so rich and yummy~

Ruth said...

I understand your pain of peeling hazelnuts. It takes forever. Your cake looks fantastic!

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Well done on your first challenge!

Michelle said...

You put in so much time on your cake...2 hrs peeling nuts...WOW!!!

Congratulations on your first DB challenge. It's nice to get one under your belt!

Harmony said...

Excellent job. What a pain the filberts must have been, i am so glad i chose almonds.

Michelle Dargen said...

Thanks everyone!

Even though I said I would make this cake again I am not sure I would use hazelnuts. I don't know if I could do that again. But maybe it would be easier next time. LOL

I am definitely going to have to try an almond version. It sounds heavenly!

Lunch Buckets said...

At least it was "good"! Welcome to the group :)

jodycakes said...

Great job! will have to put this one in my repetoire.

una donna dolce said...

2 hours of peeling hazelnuts - wow - you are dedicated!

BC said...

Congratulations on your cake. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Two hours for hazelnuts. Oops, did anyone tell you to put the toasted hazelnuts in a tea towel and rub them together? The ones that don't lose the skin after that, stay that way. I feel for you.

silverrock said...

ooo that cake looks sinfully delicious. Try to get skinny by eating a slice of that :P Way to go on your first DB challenge, hope to see more amazing bakes in the future!