It’s been a while since I made a Daring Baker challenge. I’ve been busy with the business – good, and with my day job –bad. Everyday I wished there were more hours to a day. How I dream to have 1 uninterrupted week of just baking/cooking in the kitchen. No errands, no “day” job…just me and the kitchen…and of course the “Hungry” Hubby to polish off whatever comes out of the oven.
But until that day comes, I will content myself with carving out hours in a day to reestablish my Daring Baker mettle. This month’s round is hosted by Chris of Mele Cotte – the Filbert Gateau with Buttercream! One recipe, hundreds of results.
I finally saw an opportunity to do this on the third week of July. I could first make my filbert gateux, freeze it and then do the rest on the weekend. My order load for macarons was pretty light so I could squeeze in more buttercream-making in between.
I don’t bake cakes much unless it is for an order like cupcakes because the “Hungry” Hubby dislikes them (and that’s putting it mildly – he also detests whipped cream and custards-no kidding!) HH can easily get saturated by most types of sweets (except macarons and ice cream which he has been known to finish 2 kilos of in one sitting). When I have him taste my cake-based experiments he usually can take only a bite or two. But when he really likes it like the crème brulee-filled almond tea cake, that means that the creation can satisfy even the pickiest eater (and that one contained a custard so go figure).
I groaned at first when I saw that this month’s challenge was a cake. HH will not be happy. But when I saw that it involved hazelnuts, which he is obsessive about – I knew he would be more than interested. Of course, I did not tell him tell him that I had to fill it with buttercream.
You see, I need to tread lightly here; I finally got him to eat buttercream when I made the espresso-flavored ones for the macarons, only then that he decided that he could potentially like buttercream. I knew the hazelnut praline would only make the buttercream sweeter, so I looked in my pantry to see if I could use something else. I had forgotten that I had hazelnut paste; the only problem was the paste had separated and hardened from the oil, but I could probably mix it back.
The only problem I had with making the cake part, which I filled into two 6-inch round cake pans, was that I under-baked one of them. I was also confused with the steps on when to add the butter and the nuts. But after re-reading the instructions a couple of times – I should not have had the caipirinha prior to baking – I realized that I had to add the nuts to the egg-mixture slowly and then when I had all but 2 tbs. left of nuts add the butter mixture and finish off with the last of the nuts.
I set aside one morning to finish the cake. Syrup – check, apricot glaze – check; now for the buttercream. It was different from how I made egg-white-based buttercreams before but I decided to follow through with the instructions. I was not thrilled that I had to use two mixing bowls. The buttercream came together without issue and was nice and fluffy. The butter needs to be soft but not too much which would make your buttercream greasy. I find that a temperature of 65F for the butter works pretty well.
Now it was time to incorporate my hazelnut paste. I tried to emulsify oil back into the hazelnut paste but I ended up splashing oil all over myself the counter and the floor. Grrrr! Now what? I needed to put some flavor of hazelnut into the buttercream or HH was never going to eat it. Then I saw my unopened canister of Gianduja paste – what better than chocolate and hazelnut huh?
All done with the buttercream, it was time to cut the layers. The cake was a bit sticky so I put parchment on top of the cake as I twirled it around my rotating cake stand to get the layers I needed. I like using an offset serrated knife for cutting layered cakes – makes the job easier. I ended up with four layers because I used 1 good layer from the undercooked cake. I probably should have stopped at three because the 4th layer, which became layer three, didn’t quite match the rest of the cake and ended up making the slices slightly lop-sided.
For the chocolate glaze I mixed a 61% “extra bitter” chocolate with a 66% chocolate and this was by far my favorite part of the cake.
I also did not have a big leaf tip, only round ones. I originally wanted to sprinkle roughly-ground hazelnut but decided against it when I thought some gold flakes would look elegant against the buttercream decoration and chocolate.
I am no decorator of cakes. I could pipe macarons and cupcake frostings in my sleep but do not ask me to decorate a cake. My buttercream hardened too much and I ended up getting tips on the dots – not the effect I wanted. A solution to this was to wait for the buttercream to soften a bit longer and whisk the buttercream until it becomes pipepable but I was running out of time and had other things to attend to.
Assembling the cake was a non-event. My worst nightmare of dropping the cake on the way to the refrigerator never happened.
Overall, the cake was pretty good, I liked the hazelnut genoise but I was not too fond of the buttercream. I have other tried and tested buttercream recipes I use but I always like to experiment with different methods and this was the perfect opportunity.
I normally use Alice Medrich’s Sarah Bernhardt’s glaze for the poured chocolate effect but this was a welcome ganache alternative.
But best of all, everyone who tasted the cake loved it including the HH. So in my case, my picky eater really just needed to be told that hazelnuts were involved (or coffee) and that should not be too difficult to peak his interest in whatever was baking in the oven.