Daring Bakers: Filbert gateau with praline buttercream

Although I bake a lot (and not just small almond meringue things), I was finding I wasn’t trying enough new things from my piles of cookbooks. So I joined the Daring Bakers. I’m sure many of you will have seen mention of them before, and a frequent commenter here (Y of lemonpi in Sydney) has often posted about her participation in the Daring Baker Challenges (and she has this time too!). Each month there’s a new challenge which remains secret until the end of the month. Then, around the world, crazy bakers post pictures, text, recipes.

Embracing the first challenge I could participate in, I set about making it on the first weekend after the Daring Bakers were told what to make. Oh hell. A full gateau. I’ve made all sorts of fiddly things, but never a layered bloody gateau! And so it was time to learn.

A ‘Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream’ was the order of the month. In this case filbert refers to hazelnuts (a common synonym for some USAmericans, I believe), although technically a filbert isn’t quite the same thing as the everyday hazelnut. And praline is nuts and hard caramel ground to a powder or paste.

The cake was not a simple affair, consisting of:

  • three layers of firm hazelnut genoise (a type of sponge)
  • each layer moistened with sugar syrup flavoured with rum
  • between each sponge layer was a layer of buttercream flavoured with praline and Cointreau and a layer of whipped cream
  • the external surfaces of the cake were coated with an apricot glaze
  • a chocolate ganache was then poured over the cake and smoothed to encase the entire cake
  • and finally, praline buttercream decoration with hazelnuts

And it took about nine hours to get it together. Thankfully, a lot of that was learning curve!

In each challenge there is a little latitude permitted for some elements. I halved the recipe, as I gain enough weight from my normal baking, and there are only so many people I can give cake to!

I’ve become a little sceptical about many of my American baking books in recent years, with many items coming out much too sweet for a non-American palate, so I decided to err on the side of caution in this case, omitting the buttercream from between the layers and instead just using it for the decoration. I mixed praline paste into the whipped cream, using this as the sole filling between the sponge layers. Funnily, the chocolate ganache was meant to be far from sweet, using chocolate with 70% cocoa solids. This looked like a disaster in richness to me, so I used a sweeter chocolate (about 60%). In fact, I think going sweeter would have worked even better.

The gateau came out pretty well for a first attempt at this sort of thing. My ganache wasn’t particularly neat, my piped buttercream looks horrendous, and choosing only to use flavoured whipped cream between the sponge layers meant the cake needed to rest about 48 hours before the best blending of flavours was achieved (because barely sweetened cream can be pretty flat). It was a great learning experience. I wouldn’t make this particular cake again, but wouldn’t hesitate to try other gateaux.

32 thoughts on “Daring Bakers: Filbert gateau with praline buttercream”

  1. Only so many people you can give cake to?! I can think of more than a dozen from last Saturday alone. 😛

    I was sure you must be an impressive all-round baker and decorator and this confirms it – I’m looking forward to seeing more of your non-almond-meringue-based creations here in the future.

  2. Hah! “Small almond meringue things!” That’s too funny. I would never have thought this was your first time to make a (bloody) layered gateau, and not just because of how good it looks now. Do you think you would have instead placed the praline buttercream as the filling?

  3. I’m with Cindy, Duncan. Putting hand up for tasting duties…

    Good on you, for joining the Daring Bakers group.

    Anything with Cointreau and I am there.

  4. It certainly was a learning curve, but that’s what’s great about being a DB. Your cake looks terrific.

  5. Wow. A cake brings everybody running:) Thanks!

    It’s funny what different people find to be a breeze or a burden. For some reason I hate doing things like icing and buttercreams (yes, I know my almond meringue thingies need that too). When I see a cake recipe that says it needs a frosting, I almost never bother with the frosting (a dozen nude carrot cakes in my life, needless to say). But on the other hand, many people know I’m obsessive about pain-in-the-bum things like small almond meringue thingies, custard tarts, danish pastry… so who knows what deep-seated problem is hiding in this! 😛

    I’m not sure if I should have stuck with buttercream for the filling or not, Manggy. Sometimes it can just be flat, greasy and sweet, rather than lifting a cake. But I think I understand the effects of just using flavoured whipped cream better now.

  6. Oh I didn’t realise you had joined the Db-ers. Welcome! 🙂 It probably took me just about as long to make my little cakes too – mind you, I did a lot of other stuff inbetween. I love that picture of the sliced cake.

  7. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Nice first challenge, your decorations looks pretty good to me! I was surprised to find the sweetness of the cake just right, and I didn’t change a thing, but then I love dark dark chocolate, the darker the better =P

  8. So that was why you couldn’t tell me about the gateau. Great job on the cake. I’ll try some if there’s any left.

    I hate doing frosting stuff too. No matter how hard I try, I always manage to make a great tasting cake look terrible with the frosting. I always end up smearing it everywhere into a big mess.

    I’ve previously seen all the great things the Daring Bakers have made but I think it’s still a bit out of my league. Maybe another year or two of baking and mastering the basic techniques before I attempt some of this stuff.

  9. Thanks again:) Thanh, I think this sort of thing would be great for you — a trial by fire, sort of thing. You don’t hesitate to try lots of things, so why not join Daring Bakers? (I don’t know if you would be in time for the August challenge — you’d have to email them today probably.) I would never have made this cake without knowing that, as I had signed up finally, I just had to have the guts to do it.

  10. Looks great, guess we expect that it tasted superb. Do they need a tasting panel??
    Have you seen Loretta Sartori’s book Patisserie ? It is FULL of gateaux.

  11. Well, I wasn’t soooo excited by the taste, but my parents definitely enjoyed it.

    Vida, you know that if you tell a blogger about food, they blog… so the risk of trying to share a secret cake with bloggers about four weeks before anyone was allowed to write about it… too dangerous!

  12. My “Nursing Mothers Association of Australia” cookbook advises halving sugar content in any American recipe. Sound guidance for the most part, though would be troublesome in some confectionery 😉

  13. I have the same issue with American recipes being too sweet. I omitted the Praline paste in my buttercream and just the right sweetness was obtained. Your cake looks delicious!

  14. did i just hear 70% cocoa solid chocolate!!!loved the bitterness of chocolate especially caraibee 70%…….!but personally i do prefer grand manier rather than Cointreau .in malaysia , there are also same issue that u mention, the american recipe were too rich for local taste bud more worst , people said the recipe aint working well, but i do think diffrent region have their own taste. chinese always
    complain western dessert too sweet, well ….i still saw them chewing caramel sesame nuts bar without any complain of too sweet with it, lol!!!!

  15. I’m curious as to the difference between a filbert and a hazelnut? I’ve always seen the words used interchangeably.

    I also joined to push my limits a little more and try new things. And I have to say, none of the things I’ve made with them so far come close to what I would have attempted on my own!

  16. Duncan,
    This was my first challenge too. Yippy…, finally I found someone that also used whipped cream praline instead of butter cream. I am not really that fond of butter cream! For the ganache, I used 55%. It was perfect!
    I wish I could see you when you were in action doing all those piping for the cake decoration. A+ for your efforts.
    Btw, what happen to your photographs? I am sorry (please don’t be up set), I just can’t help it. Your photos are normally so good. This time is still pretty, it just not like Duncan.

  17. True filberts are (I think) larger and more elongated than common hazelnuts.

    Elra, don’t worry, not upset, but I wonder which photos you really like? (I think most of my photos aren’t great, and thought these ones were about average for me. LOL)

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