Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Daring Bakers Challenge

First, lets say Woohoo! I completed my first daring baker’s challenge. Second, lets be real! This was so difficult. Honestly, I have seen the previous challenges. They did not look easy, but they looked manageable. Then after I sign up for the challenges, there is a heck-of-a challenge. If it was not for my mother visiting me and pushing me to take on the challenge, I would have been defeated before even starting. So, BIG thanks to MOMMY!

Now, about actually making the cake. It was fun and not as overwhelming as I thought. My favorite part of this cake- Praline Swiss Butter cream. Out of everything I made for this cake, the Butter cream will be the only recipe I foresee using again. It is unbelievably tasty and no too sweet like an ordinary butter cream. And that is from the girl who does not like ordinary butter cream at all.

Lastly, were my recipe deviates from the challenge recipe:
1. I used almonds instead of filberts.
2. The cake is suppose to be 3 layers. I halved the recipe however, and used a pan slightly too large for the half recipe. So, my cakes is only 2 layers.
3. Other substitutions might have been made based on my ingredient preference or realizing I did not purchase the necessary ingredient and I was mid-recipe. :-) All changes have been annotated.


(Almond) Gateau with Praline Buttercream
Adapted From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

All the parts needed to assemble the cake:
1 Almond Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with Grand Mariner
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Peach Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
Toasted, slivered almonds to garnish

Almond Genoise
1/2 cups almond meal/ flour
1/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, divided 1/8 & 3/8 cups
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind
3 lg. egg whites
1/8 cup warm, baking margerine

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 8" X 3" inch round cake pan.

Mix together almond meal, cake flour, and all purpose flour. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add 3/8 cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining 1/8 cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another 30 seconds.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm margarine in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected margerine remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You'll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Butter cream
1 recipe Swiss Butter cream
1/3 cup praline paste

Blend 1/2 cup butter cream into the paste, then add to the remaining butter cream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.

Swiss Butter cream
2 lg. egg whites
3/8 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. margarine, slightly firm
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not over beat*. Set aside.

Place the margarine in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the margarine at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not over beat or the margarine will become too soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Praline Paste
1/2 cup almonds
1/3 cup Sugar (I used 1/4 cup by accident)
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Peach Glaze
1/3 cup thick peach preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
3 oz. (good) semisweet chocolate
3/8 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
3/8 tsp. vanilla

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn't thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn't get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Divide the cake into 2 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline butter cream and set aside.

Spread the peach glaze over the bottom layer. Next, spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining butter cream. Moisten the cut side of the top layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the ganache.

Place parchment paper sheets under the side of the cake, ensuring that the cake board is adequately covered. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake's center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing. Remove the parchment paper sheets from under the cake.

To garnish, take a #32 decorating tip with the Praline Swiss Butter cream and equally space rosettes around the exterior of the cake. Place a sliver of toasted almond in the center of each rosette. Using the same tip place a star boarder around the bottom of the cake. In the center pipe a flower and fill in with left over almond praline paste.


  1. Your cake turned out beautiful. Good job on persevering!

  2. I had the same reaction for my first challenge. This was my third and it was still a challenge. I managed to get through it without my usual panic attack though. Good luck with August's challenge!

  3. great job on your first challenge! I think that the recipe look really difficult just reading through it, but it really wasn't that bad to make. Lovely

  4. yum! peach glaze! Your cake is lovely :)

  5. Well done! Your first challenge was a great success!

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

    Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

  6. Your cake turned out great. This cake took a lot of time and care. Welcome to the group.

  7. I love that buttercream, too! Luckily, there's plenty of praline paste left over from this recipe to easily make more!

  8. Simply lovely looking cake. I love almonds as well, good choice for the nutmeat. Great to have you as a new DBer!! Can't wait to see what August has in store :)

  9. Yay for mommys! And welcome to the group :)

  10. Congrats on completing your first challenge!

    Your cake turned out nice. wtg!

  11. Lovely-looking cake with suuuuuuuuch shiny ganache... mmm...

  12. Your cake looks wonderful! And oh so yummy.