It was fun to make this month's Daring Bakers challenge: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Carole Walter's Great Cakes book. I most definitely thank our host this month, Chris for choosing a fun recipe that was not nearly as time consuming as last month's Danish Pastry Braid. With the new puppy and various other projects this month, I was thankful for a "less involved" challenge that only took 1 day instead of 2.
The recipe called for hazelnuts (Filberts) but we were free to use an alternate nut as long as we carried it through the entire cake. The recipe also called for an apricot glaze underneath the chocolate ganache but we were free to pick a different flavor. We had to keep the cakes round and while we could make minis, we couldn't make cupcakes. We couldn't use fresh fruit IN the cake, but could to decorate. And we had to decorate the cake with the praline buttercream. This gave everyone a chance to practice their piping skills!
Instead of spending my mortgage on hazelnuts (filberts), I chose to use pistachios. I decided to invite a handful of family over for a Sunday dinner to meet Lucca and (yes, truly) primarily to have folks around to whom I could feed my July Daring Bakers Challenge!! I knew the hazelnuts wouldn't have been as enjoyed as pistachios, so I didn't bother taking out the loan for them nor trekking all over town to find them. I had enough pistachios in the fridge. I also chose raspberry instead of apricot which just sounded better with the nuts. I chose Grand Marnier for all the places the recipe asked for alcohol. And then proceeded to do everything else as the recipe called for.
I started this on a Saturday afternoon and intended to serve it on Sunday evening.
First things first was the pistachio praline: You melt dry sugar over the stove - that's right, no added water; then add the pistachios once the sugar begins browning. That's all it takes to make, essentially, pistachio brittle!
After making the pistachio brittle, I ground it up in the food processor until it was almost a powder. But I intentially left it a little "bit-like" so that one would crunch on a bit of the brittle/praline as they sampled the buttercream.
Really this cake is VERY MUCH like a sponge cake. I felt awful that I made it sit on the counter right-side-up after removing it from the oven instead of like this (from this blog entry). Of COURSE it dropped in the center!
I went out and bought a 10" cake pan (as called for) and assembled as instructed:
~Take cake Layer 1
~Brush with Grand Marnier syrup
~Spread layer of Pistachio Praline Buttercream
~Top with a thin layer of unsweetened whipped cream
~Repeat with Layer 2
~Brush bottom of Layer 3 with Grand Marnier syrup
~Invert on top
I had a bit of a problem using my new cake leveler. I think the cake was too dense for the wire to slice neatly through it. So I found myself pulling it and (of course) didn't end up cutting straight. I basically cut a thin wedge off the top of my cake - brilliant! Good thing this cake will be covered...so even though it looked awful during assembly, it was ALL hidden upon serving.
After trimming the edges, you smother the entire cake with heated jam. I used raspberry after straining out all the seeds. This is supposed to "seal" the cake. I should have done a thin coat of buttercream after this to set up a nice base for the ganache - but I lost patience and didn't get to it; and therefore sacrificed the look a bit. The extra layer of buttercream would have smoothed out my sides instead of the "stepped" look it had. But it didn't affect the flavor, of course.
Finally it was time for the ganache coating. For this I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate.
The "funnest" part: pouring the heated Vanilla, Grand Marnier, Chocolate Ganache over the finished cake. It worked perfectly as per the directions, as long as one has patience and allows it to cool and thicken just a bit. 90° is the suggested temperature. Not too thick; not too thin.
I decorated the top with my play on the original design but since I didn't have the #114 leaf tip, I winged it with my little #18 star tip.
Oh? You wanted to see the insides??
You can find the recipe written out on many other Daring Bakers' blogs - just something I never have the patience for since I write such prolific blog entries!