July Daring Bakers: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
It’s that time again…time for the July Daring Baker’s Challenge!
This month, the recipe was chosen by Chris of Mele Cotte — a hazelnut gateau with praline buttercream. The recipe had all the trappings of a good challenge; lots of techniques wrapped into one recipe: swiss buttercream, a genoise, making caramel, glazing with ganache, and piping buttercream for decoration. I had a few small bumps along the way, but overall, it turned out pretty well, and tasted quite delicious, too!
The genoise is made with ground blanched hazelnuts, egg yolks mixed with sugar until ribbony, and egg whites whipped into soft peaks. The original recipe made a 10-inch cake, but since it’s just the two of us eating the cake, I opted to use my 5-inch cake pans (again.) Theoretically, halving the recipe should have given me just enough for the 5-inch pan…but I think I might have somehow overbeat the egg whites a bit, because it rose up like a volcano out of the pan and down the sides a bit. Oops.
Well, I didn’t have enough hazelnuts left to bake it again, so I figured I’d just press on and excavate the cake from the pan (you’ll also notice that the top sunk a bit, which tells me I didn’t do something exactly right when making the genoise, but it just meant that one of my layers was a bit thinner than the others.)
More blanched hazelnuts were coated in a homemade caramel, then dried into a brittle and pulsed into a powder before being folded into the swiss buttercream. I added a little coffee to the buttercream, since that flavor goes so well with hazelnut, and it was super tasty!
The cake is split into three layers, and each layer is spread with a sugar syrup. I chose to flavor my sugar syrup with strong coffee also. Buttercream is spread on each layer along with some whipped cream, then the entire cake is glazed with a dark chocolate ganache. This was a good technique to learn: pouring the ganache from a height of 10 inches above the cake and smoothing it minimally with a spatula creates a smooth top surface that looks quite pretty. The sides of my cake, on the other hand, were not a pretty sight. When it came time to trim the perimeter of the cake to make it smooth, the texture of my cake was on the crumbly side and little bits kept falling off. Again – at this point I wasn’t going to make it over, I just figured I’d go with it.
I tried to make a sunflower-like decoration on the top of my cake; I used Wilton tip #352 – this was actually my first time doing any kind of piping decoration (other than the straight writing tip), so I was a little nervous and practiced first on some parchment. All in all, I was pretty happy with how it came out — I’d like to think it wouldn’t be considered a Cake Wreck!