Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers chase after filberts

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My dad and his birthday cake

Filbert Gateau. A what gateau now? Filbert? What's a filbert? Google, as always, is my friend, and told me that a filbert is basically a hazelnut. Oh - alrighty then! A hazelnut cake! Sounds good to me! Thanks Mele Cotte for choosing this - I happen to be a big nut fan. And as this cake had chocolate too, seriously, heaven. It did, however, have buttercream as well. And here my enthusiasm faded. See, buttercream is not at all traditional in cakes here in Sweden. It's really uncommon, actually. And I can't say I care for it much. So, what to do? I substituted something else - milk chocolate ganache. And was promptly punished for it, as you'll see later on.

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I'm also quite thankful for my dad having a birthday this month - the perfect occasion to make this! And a big heartfelt thank you to my lovely kitchen equipment. Without the proper tools, this cake would have been so much harder. I particularly thank my Kitchen-Aid mixer, my Bosch food processor, my Demeyere sauteuse, and my Tupperware silicon spatula.

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Now, for the actual parts of the cake:

Cake: This was to be a hazelnut genoise, and it had a few steps that was definitely new to me. I beat egg yolks really fluffy, gradually adding sugar, and I don't think I've ever made yolks that fluffy before! After adding vanilla (I didn't add the lemon zest - oops!) the batter was delicious! I then beat egg whites into meringue. But after that cake a scary step - combine the two. Really? I thought that would take all of the air out of the whites, but turned out it worked out nicely.

After that, though, I was to fold in my nut-and-flour mixture, while sifting it. I don't know about you, but I definitely needed an additional hand for that to work - one to hold the bowl, one to sieve the nuts, one to fold... Finally, adding clarified butter. I've never made clarified butter before, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy. I just melted it and let it sit, skimmed the surface, and carefully poured into a measuring cup. Huh! Oh - and I used ready toasted and skinned hazelnuts. It's recently become available here (at Ica!) and since skinning nuts is really my idea of kitchen hell, I'm thankful.

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Syrup: Oh, simple, just boil sugar and water. I didn't add any alcohol since the guests for this particular cake don't care for any alcohol at all, but instead I poured it over a few vanilla beans to make vanilla syrup.

Praline paste: Oooh. Scary. First, making caramel - not very hard, but still scary. After that, I was to use my food processor to grind it into a paste. I thought for sure this would kill my poor food processor, but.. surprise, surprise - it went perfectly! Some daring bakers mentioned in the forums that they don't have a food processor, and were going to try grinding this by hand. Good luck to you.

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Buttercream: Well, I admit that I just made a little for the decorations - for the filling, I instead made a whipped milk chocolate ganache with praline. (300 ml heavy cream, 200 g chopped milk chocolate, pour the hot cream over the chocolate, stir stir stir, chill overnight, whip, add praline paste.) However, it turned out a little thinner than I had planned, possibly due to overbeating the ganache. It was still delicious though. And the buttercream? Might be the very best buttercream I've ever had. I used my trusty method - beating egg yolks, adding hot sugar syrup and then butter - rather than the one called for in the recipe, and then added praline paste. It was nothing short of amazingly tasty. And now I wish I had made more!

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Apricot glaze: Straightforward - I used a cheap brand, but it turned out fine.

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Chocolate ganache: It seemed a little thick perhaps, I think most people had runnier ganaches which made for a shinier, more mirror-like surface. But I don't really care, it turned out fairly pretty and was tasty.

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Decorating: Since it was my dad's birthday, decoration was a given. I really, really need to get a large coupler and some large tips though, it's no fun just working with tiny tips.

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All in all, I loved this cake. It was fun to make, and very tasty. Thanks to Chris of Mele Cotte for choosing this one! For the recipe, please go here. Don't forget to visit the Daring Bakers forums, even if you're not a Daring Baker. And of course, the blogroll, to see how everyone's cake turned out!

29 comments:

deb said...

awesome work! i couldn't have done mine without my tools, too! lol!

glad your dad enjoyed his cake!

Tanya said...

Aww..your dad looks adorable cutting into that cake! Great job...your cake looks delicious!

Katie said...

Your cake looks fab. It must have made a wonderful birthday cake for your dad.

Foodie Froggy said...

Your dad must have been very impressed with his birthday cake !

The Irreverent Cook said...

Wow, I love all your photos!! That picture of your dad cutting into the cake is especially adorable =D Great job!

Cakelaw said...

Your cake looks wonderful - your Dad is a lucky guy!

Christine said...

Your dad is so lucky to have such a beautiful birthday cake! Awesome job and I need as many tools as possible!

BC said...

I'm a chocolate and nut fan too. This was a delicious cake that I made for a birthday too.

glamah16 said...

The right tools make it easier. Your papa looks like he going to enjoy it!

Jo said...

Nice job and your dad looks as if he couldn't wait for a piece of the cake.

hexe said...

I like your chocolate additions - may have to try that next time!

Amy said...

That sounds absolutely heavenly! I don't think there is a more divine combination than hazelnuts and chocolate!

Em said...

Looks great - and your dad is cute as can be cutting into the cake :)

Have a delicious day!

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

I love the photo of your dad and the cake. Great post and the cake looks wonderful.

TeaLady said...

Ah, shucks, just missed my birthday. I would have loved this cake too. Looks really good. Congrats.

Natalie... said...

Looks so good, great job. I bet your dad loved it! I know my family did hehe.

giz said...

I love the way you do your winning speach to the Academy. I'm sure your Kitchenaid is most appreciative of the recognition. Your cake is wonderful and you dad is a total sweetheart. Love his ascot - so dignified looking.

Jason said...

Can you bake me a birthday cake? This sounds delicious!
Oh, I also nominated you for an Brillante Weblog Award, congratulations!

Ann said...

Lucky Dad! Your cake looks just wonderful!

ingegerd said...

nice work!your cake looks fab!!I did one too!

Christine Tham said...

What a lovely cake you baked and decorated as compared to mine!

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Looking good Anne, well done. Your Dad looks very happy. I should have thought to get a photo with the person I presented it too. I loved it too. Mmm.

Lorrie said...

I love the first picture of your dad with the cake! Your cake looks delicious!

pixie said...

that is a precious photo of your dad slicing his birthday cake! very tender! and the cake does look special and made with love! congratulations!

Stephanie said...

Nice job, Anne!

Wow...already-skinned hazelnuts, on the shelves? I wish.
I used the boiling water/baking soda method; it takes a bit more time than dry roasting, but the skins come off so much easier, and completely!

Lovely cake, and happy belated to your father!

√úlle said...

Wonderful cake!
Arvo is typical Estonian name! Has your dad some Estonian roots?

Anne said...

√úlle, not just roots - he was born there :) His whole family escaped to Sweden during the war.

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks beautiful!

wmpe said...

What a lovely cake and I love the photo of your father cutting the cake! All the steps in the cake made it a true Daring Bakers challenge - yours turned out wonderfully. Wendy