Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers July - Filbert Gateau

Here we are again - its the end of yet another month this year - I can't believe how fast it goes by. This month's Daring Bakers challenge comes to us courtesy of Chris at Mele Cotte. She chose this fantabulous cake from Great Cakes by Carol Walter.

This cake is more than just a cake but we'll get to that in a bit. I was very excited about this challenge. I had been quite a while since I had made a cake of this caliber, and it would be interesting to see if I could pull it off here in AK, without the aid of my cake decorating and construction tools!

I ordered filberts (hazelnuts) from Barry Farm's Amazon store. They were not too badly priced and shipping was fairly quick. I've ordered from them before for bread baking ingredients and had no issues with the turnaround or quality of the item. He does charge an additional fee, to cover his packing cost, but at the end of the transaction, I paid less to get 1.5 pounds of shelled raw filberts here than from other outlets, so I can't complain. I was considering substituting another nut for the filberts, but all bulk raw nuts were sold out here.

It took about two weeks to get the nuts here, so I stewed looking at my fellow DB'ers provide sneak peaks, trials, and tribulations of their experiences with this month's challenge. Once my filberts arrived, I tried skinning them using a roasting method, but the skins were too stubborn. I ended up blanching them off and then putting the skinned nuts back into the oven to drive of any excess moisture.

I divided off the portion of the skinned nuts for the cake and made the praline and praline paste the same day I skinned the nuts. I have no pictures of this... in fact, I got so focused on not messing up that I have absolutely no pictures of the cake or buttercream part of the process! Sorry folks. The praline was good. I never carmalized sugar on an electric range before, so it was darker than I wanted, but since it wasn't burned, I went ahead and added the nuts.

The next day I processed the nuts with the flour and sieved it 4 times to try and get the finest grind possible. I probably could have not done this with similar results, but I wanted to make sure that I didn't have too many coarse pieces of filbert in the cake. The cake wasn't too difficult to pull together. You don't want to over-fold it, yet want to fold it enough to incorporate the ingredients well. I did think I over did it, but my cake rose perfectly :).

Making the swiss meringue was interesting. I can say that my I followed the spirit of the swiss merignue, but it may not have truly been one. I don't have a hand mixer, and heating the eggwhites while beating them is kind of difficult with a stand mixer. I did manage to place a bowl of boiling water under neat the mixer bowl, and the egg whites did 'warm' a bit, but I would venture to say it didn't achieve the temperature it needed to. There were moments while adding the butter and praline paste, where I thought that it was going to go badly, but perserverance and a high speed beating brought it back in line LOL. I added rose water to my buttercream to accentuate the flavor of the filberts and the praline. I have to admit - the addition of this flavor was pretty good, but I wasn't certain how it would go with the cake and chocolate.

I sliced the cake into three layers, and assembled the cake as directed. I added a vanilla bean to the simple syrup I made and made my glaze using homemade apricot preserves and spiced rum. The assembly of the cake came together pretty well. Here's a picture of part of that process:

The ganache coating wasn't too difficult. I did substitute sourwood honey for the corn syrup. I did do one booboo - I doubled the recipe to make sure I had enough (and to make some truffles afterward) and didn't double the honey portion so my ganche wasn't as shiny as it should have been.

To decorate I bought a plastic cake decorating set (you know, the one with 4 tips), and used that to deocrate. I also peeled some extra filberts and carmelized them for decoration. Here's the gallery of the finished cake!

The cake smelled amazing. I was concerned that even though every part individually tasted great on its own, that it wouldn't marry well together. I took the cake to work, and people were in awe of my creation. We managed to save it for our afternoon break. People were floored - some of the comments circulating the break room

"Oh My God, this cake is heaven!"

"I think I am having a sugar plum orgasm..."

"This is the best cake I have ever had."

"Please excuse me while I collect myself..."

I guess they liked it... and if I still wasn't sure after that:

The cake was amazing, the rose flavor matched perfectly with the filberts and dark chocolate ganache. I expected the nuts to make the genoise heavy and dense, but the cake was light in flavor and texture. All in all I loved it. Granted, the rest of the month seemed empty, since this type of recipe isn't something you can make over and over again (unlike Dainsh Braids!).

Thanks Chris for a great challenge!!! Please check out the DB Blogroll to see how my fellow DBers did this month!

Here's the recipe (I didn't include decorating instructions, as I did my own decorating scheme):

Filbert Genoise (I followed this exactly as written with the exception of a 9" pan)
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
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. 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 (I added a split vanilla bean to mine and let it steep for added flavor)
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.

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.

Swiss Buttercream
(I used rose water instead of liquor)

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.

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 over beat*. 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.

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.

Apricot Glaze (I used rum instead of water)
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 (I used honey instead of corn syrup)
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!

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


Namratha said...

Wow, the ganache is so perfect on your cake, mine was quite uneven!! You've done a good job with the decoration, well done :)

maybelles parents said...

I am glad you had such favorable reactions to your cake, and the rose flavoring sounds yum. the decorations are great.

Ann said...

Your cake looks great!

Dayna said...

wow - your cake is so lovely!! I love the story about getting the filberts to I am taking for granted that I can just head to the market. I am impressed with your finished work. Nice decorating too.

I wish I would have known sooner about using honey instead of the corn syrup. That is why I am so glad to be a DB'r you can learn all kind of new baking knowledge.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Your cake looks absolutely delicious!! Job well done on this DB challenge!

Cynthia's Blog said...

Your little rosettes were so pretty! It made me want a bite. Nice cake.

Jennifer said...

Your decoration is perfect and oh the accolades :) Makes it worth every delicious second.

Erin said...

Your cake looks beautiful! I love the way you decorated it with the buttercream.

giz said...

Your cake looks like it just came from a fine bakery. Absolutely beautiful decorating job. Pat yourself on the back. Amazing how quickly it disappears.

pixie said...

that is flawless! very elegant!

breadchick said...


That just looks stunning! I wish I had thought to look at Amazon for my filberts. They were so cost prohibitive that I had to use the pieces.

And I know what you mean about the missing this cake after it was gone and not being able to make it again like the danish.

Jenny said...

That cake looks amazing! Well done.

The Stressed Baker said...

It looks delicious!!! See you were nicer then me, I didn't do it because I thought it would have been too much to bring to the office! You have lucky officemates!

Sugar Chef said...

Nice job. I can see why your co-workers were in awe of your creation and culinary expertise!!

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Your cake is beautiful and the piping is very elegant!

Cindy Ruth said...

Amelia-Your cake is beautiful! If this is the work you do using "plastic 4 piece decorating set", then I can only imagine what your work looks like when you have all of the tools you want!

deb said...

beautiful cake!

natalia said...

Ciao amelia ! your cake looks great ! i wish I was as good ! complimenti !

Chara said...

Your cake came out beautifully! I love your glazing job!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks absolutely beautiful. I love your decoration, it's perfect!