Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream: A Daring Baker Challenge

There are a lot of steps in making the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream -- the recipe is almost as long as the name -- but it wasn't an overly difficult cake to make. (Though getting a cake to look beautiful is difficult, and I need a lot more practice before one of my cakes could be mistaken for a professional one.) I did cheat a bit by not splitting the cake into three layers, which made things easier. Instead, I baked 2/3rds of the batter in one pan, the remaining 1/3 in another, split the larger cake in half and then proceeded as outlined below. (I still managed to f**k up the layers. But, buttercream-as-spackle came to the rescue.)

I liked the cake soaked with the simple syrup and apricot glaze very much, but the buttercream – for which I found my own recipe – and the ganache didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t bad, and I certainly ate more than one slice. But this is not something that I’ve craved since baking it, unlike, say, Danish or sticky buns. Though, now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’m an over-the-top decadent cake kinda girl; I pine for simple classics: carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, yellow cake with chocolate buttercream, or maybe even a strawberry cake.

The hazelnut brittle and the subsequent praline, however, were to die for. I need to figure out more ways to incorporate those little goodies into desserts.

Many thanks to the lovely Chris of the lovely Mele Cotte, who is not just a Daring Baker and not just this month's host, but full-on Bakenista! Chris, you are always a pleasure to bake with and learn from.

For more DB goodness, please visit the blogroll and forum!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Gateau
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 Gateau

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 form. 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). 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. 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
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Cointreau

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

Praline Buttercream (source)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature In a small heavy saucepan simmer milk, sugar, and vanilla bean if using, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. In a bowl whisk yolks and add milk mixture in a stream, whisking. Transfer mixture to pan and cook over low heat, stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 170°F. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl and cool completely. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat butter until light and fluffy and beat in custard, a little at a time, until smooth. Beat in 1/3 cup praline (reserving remaining praline for another use) and vanilla extract if using.

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 cool, 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

**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. Cointreau
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur 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!

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.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp knife 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.


Chris said...

Laura, Great job! I love the leaves on the top. As always, its a please baking with you as well. :) 'Till next time!

Anonymous said...

You did a great job and it looks like it could be sold in a store! Your topping makes me think of fall leaves and how wonderful this would be for a new Thanksgiving dessert.

Peabody said...

Yes, lots of steps...but oh so good.
Great job on yours.

Anonymous said...

Laura, your cake looks lovely! I would have given it an A too.

Your trick of 2/3 and 1/3 was nifty!

As usual, a pleasure my dear.

Anonymous said...

So many steps... so little time... so delicious!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Laura, Your cake looks awesome, and I love the leaves too! Simple elegance.

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice job! I admit to eating a spoonful of the leftover praline paste today - tonight we'll try the cake :)

2be said...

THis is such a beautiful cake. I must learn how to do the leaves.

Laura Rebecca said...

Thanks, everyone!

Lunch buckets, I had to tear myself away from the leftover paste, too!

Ashley, the leaves were really simple. I just used a round piping tip to trace the outline, filled the leaves in with more frosting, and then used a butter knife to smooth the frosting out a bit.

Stephanie said...

You piped the leaves!! I never have the patience for that...and my mom's a pastry chef. Feel as though I'm letting her down, or something.

Oh, well...wouldn't be the first time, would it??

Nice job!

Tracy said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I feel so left out that I had to become a non DB-er for a little while!

And ... TAG!

Sara said...

very pretty!

Unknown said...

I love the decoration you did with the buttercream. Great job!

Lauren said...

Your cake looks beautiful! I love the leaf decoration on top!