Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Daring Bakers chase after filberts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Apricot glaze: Straightforward - I used a cheap brand, but it turned out fine.
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.
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.
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!