It’s that time of the month again, when the Daring Bakers take over the food blogging world for a few days with their baked creations. This July, over a thousand (yes, I did say thousand) of us are once again going to overwhelm you (and ourselves) with the sheer variety that comes from imagination and creativity while working on a single recipe.
Our hostess for this month, Chris of Mele Cotte, chose a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, from Great Cakes by Carol Walter, for us to bake.
What’s a filbert?
Apparently, that’s another name for a hazelnut. This doesn’t matter much to me for this challenge, because where I live we don’t get hazelnuts. Even if we did, it would probably cost the heaven and the earth put together! So I made do with almonds.
As is usual, we were provided with all the required information along with the recipe. For those who aren’t aware of this, the host(s) for each month tries out their chosen recipe and gives us their feedback and suggestions with pictures so that we are reasonably prepared to meet the challenge. The original challenge recipe cane be read at the Daring Bakers website.
I started by reducing the recipe to half to make a smaller cake and made the cake in stages, over three days. I like recipes like this.
Sugar Syrup: I made the syrup required for moistening the cake but left out the liqueur as we don’t use alcohol. I substituted the same amount of unsweetened orange juice to get the orange flavour.
Praline Paste: I used almonds, which I skinned at home, to make the praline. Everything went as it should have. I couldn’t help sneaking a taste and it was good though a bit sweet (for my taste), but I guess that’s what praline is supposed to be.
Broke up the praline and used my mixer-grinder to powder it. Further processing didn’t turn it into a paste, so I added a little butter. It still refused to become a paste. I couldn’t bring myself to throw this out, so I added this as it was to the buttercream.
We were allowed to use either the given recipe for Swiss buttercream or any other to make the buttercream. I chose to make a cream cheese buttercream as I could avoid using eggs and also make a less sweet buttercream. I used the following recipe and left out the rum.
Cream cheese frosting:
2 1/4 cups cream cheese (I used Amul paneer)
3/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk
It turned out well. I added the praline paste to the buttercream and the result was a very tasty but slightly grainy (from the praline paste) buttercream.
Fruit Glaze: I used orange marmalade as I felt it would definitely pair well with chocolate and take away a little from the overall sweetness of the cake. Ok, the real reason was that the only preserves/ jam I had, when I was making this cake, was marmalade! But it worked very well with this cake.
Ganache Glaze: I left out the liqueur, used cream with 25% fat (I don’t get heavy cream here) and substituted honey for light corn syrup (another thing I couldn’t find).think.
I didn’t think all this made too much of a difference as my ganache looked and tasted good.
The Cake: Making this cake was easy. I used almonds instead of hazelnuts (which are not found in the stores here) and skinning them wasn’t easy. Getting pieces of almond under your fingernails can be really painful and after doing it a previous challenge as well, I think I’ve had enough of it for a lifetime!
I kept thinking the cake might turn out too delicate to work with, but it was quite sturdy. I used dental floss to cut the cakes into three perfect layers. I couldn’t find cream with enough fat to whip up so left it out when sandwiching the layers.
I won’t go into the details of assembling the cake, as it is given in the recipe, but let me just say that I had no problems till I reached the buttercream decoration!
I had made the cake in stages over 3 days, so my buttercream was sitting pretty in my fridge. I knew I could do this decoration (though my skills here aren’t anything great) so I filled the piping bag and started off.
I encountered my first problem when the little bits of praline in the buttercream partially blocked the nozzle and left some weird looking squiggles on my beautiful shiny chocolate ganache. I could have cried, but that wouldn’t have helped much. So I held back the tears and slowly scraped the buttercream off the cake.
By now the buttercream was slowly softening so I put it back in the fridge. It had to be that the one day I was doing the buttercream piping had to be the hottest day during the monsoon! So I changed to a star nozzle, and tried piping out a design (can it be called this?) while attempting to cover up evidences of the piping that went wrong. Not very successfully as you can see.
Since I was going to serve this cake at my daughter’s birthday get together I was going to add the silver sugar balls she wanted. The next accident happened here. Some of the little balls fell on the buttercream, mostly in the middle, making another mess. There wasn’t too much I could do without making an even greater mess so I left it like that.
So I took a few pictures of the cake. The pictures weren’t very good (the one here was the best of the lot), but by now I was tired and in no mood to set up everything for a good picture. And my daughter’s friends would be over soon.
I had plans to take pictures of a slice, once the cake was cut, but then the ultimate accident happened. After serving the cake out to the girls and ourselves, I kept the remainder in the fridge. However, while the fridge was opened to take out something else, the cake fell out on to the floor!
At this point, I sat down and cried. So no pictures of any slices, which was a pity because for the first time I had managed beautiful layers of cake and buttercream topped with the chocolate ganache. Ah well, there’s always another cake and another time.
A really good nutty cake. The marmalade and the semi-sweet chocolate ganache balanced out the sweetness of the cake.
The kids didn’t seem to be particularly bothered by my poor decorating skills and dug into the cake, only like twelve year olds can. My husband asked for a second helping, which was a good thing as the rest of the cake ended up in the bin!
To see the how beautiful this cake can get, please visit the other Daring Bakers and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.