Wednesday, 30 July 2008
My Daring Bakers Birthday, Filberts and FFLWs
Would you believe it's one year since I became a member of the Baking Terrorists, uh I mean Daring Bakers? Indeed it is! I joined in July 2007 and this post means that this is my 13th Challenge completed. Well 14 actually since I did the Pretzel challenge too although it wasn't really a challenge since I did it much later so in essence it was a Past Challenge. So whatever, 13 or 14, who's really counting?
So to celebrate my First Birthday, the challenge for this month was provided by Chris who chose to challenge us with a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream.
Before I start on my experience with this months challenge, I think it is very, very important that I share the experience of my past year as a Daring Terrorist, umm I mean Daring Baker.
One year on and I’ve grown in so many ways, especially on my waist! I’ve conquered my fear of yeast and bread and I’ve accomplished things I never thought would be possible. I've made recipes that I would otherwise have simply dismissed as way too tedious or difficult. Best of all I’ve made so many new friends. This is all thanks to Lis and Ivonne who get a Big Huge Hug for starting up this group and for letting me join one year ago.
A Big Huge Hug also goes out to some of the other Daring Bakers that have also become close friends and who have been a constant source of support to spur me on to greater heights - you know who you are! It’s a wonder The Lovely Wife doesn’t mind me being surrounded by such lovely and talented women!! With the Daring Bakers now standing at more than 1000 members, I look forward to becoming friends with more of you.
Okay, so much for that. Lets keep our emotions in check. On to the challenge!
Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream huh?! Now I know that a Gateau is a fancy, schmancy French name for a cake. I also know that Praline is a mixture of caramel and nuts and I think everyone knows what Buttercream is - although there are many kinds of buttercream.
What stumped me though was FILBERT. What in damnations is a Filbert? Most words that start with ‘F’ for me are Four letter words – case in point with Four – get it? Four letters in four - just like there are four letters in that Other Four letter word – which is what was pouring out of my Foul mouth to rhyme with Filbert. See? Even Foul is a four letter word starting with F - doesn’t quite roll of the tongue like the other Foul Four Letter Word starting with F, if you get my drift?
For a moment I considered that Chris may have made a Typo and this cake was supposed to be an offering to Dilbert. That made sense to me as I could just picture Dilbert enjoying a Praline Buttercream cake together with Dogbert and some of the Elbonians. Still not with me? Oh never mind!
So what the “Foul Four Letter Word” is a Filbert then? Nothing more than a Hazelnut it would seem. So why the “Foul Four Letter Word” don’t you call it a Hazelnut Gateau then?? Foul Four Letter Word, Foul Four Letter Word, Foul Four Letter Word.
Don’t you like how my substitute for THE Foul Four Letter Word is made up of Four Words? Interesting isn’t it?!! Lets just shorten it to FFLW shall we? Note that the short form is Four letters starting with F too...
Filberts, or rather Hazelnuts are rather expensive in this part of the world. I’ve always known that and that is really not the problem. The problem is that when I did a check as to what Filberts are, I learnt that Hazelnuts have been cultivated in China for almost 5000 years while they are reputed to be native to Asia Minor – which would be the region of Turkey today. FFLW and Double FFLW. If Hazelnuts are cultivated in China then why the FFLW are they so FFLWing expensive??!!!
It just doesn’t make sense. But then again, I’m realising more and more these days that few things actually make sense. You would also have realised by now that the term Filbert and Hazelnut are interchangeable. And that doesn’t make much sense either.
So anyway, I got my supply of Filberts and just like any other Daring Baker Challenge, I read the recipe, re-read it, studied it even and proceeded to wake up early on a Saturday morning, the 19th of July to be precise, to do the Challenge.
Now I had spent so much time worrying about Filberts and how much they cost in China that I neglected to check how much butter I had in the fridge. I knew I had the unsalted butter for the buttercream and I ASSUMED that I had enough butter for the cake but I was wrong. No butter. FFLW! This was not a good start to the challenge.
I jumped into the car and headed out to the nearby provision shop but it was closed. Yeap. 7.30am in the morning is not when they usually open. FFLW!
Aaaahhh… what about the petrol station just 20 meters away? Yes! They had a stock of butter albeit about 20% more expensive but hey, I was in urgent need of butter. I was back in business!
Now this recipe is seemingly complicated. More so because there are so many parts to the creation of the Filbert Gateau. These are the main components to the cake as stated in the recipe:
1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
The recipe called for the hazelnuts to be toasted, skinned and then ground together with the flour. No real issue here although I wasn’t sure if the nuts were ground finely enough.
Next, the recipe called for clarified butter. I briefly considered using ready made clarified butter aka ghee but I thought I’d try to clarify my own butter – especially when other DB’s had shared that the use of normal butter didn’t seem to adversely affect the cake. I think I managed to clarify the butter pretty well by heating it and then skimming of the foam. The rest of the cake was fairly straight forward with the egg yolks and whites being whisked separately and then folded together with the with the nut meal and flour before adding the clarified butter and folding again.
The cake turned out rather well! The sugar syrup was a breeze to make as well especially since I omitted the alcohol.
This was probably the most challenging part of the challenge. I didn’t have any problems with the buttercream but making the praline paste was a bit of a pain. The first step was to make a caramel – something I have never had a problem with. Next was to throw the nuts into the caramel and mix well before turning out onto a lined tray.
Again, no problems here and plenty of experience doing this. The trouble started with grinding the praline to a paste. My food processor seemed to be working on overdrive but the praline just refused to turn into a paste. After what seemed and eternity however, I could see some semblance of a paste starting to form. More processing saw the praline start to become more liquid but when I tasted it, there were still tiny bits of caramel and nuts that made the paste a little crunchy – or maybe gritty is the right word. No amount of processing seemed to help so I just let it be. It was a delicious paste though!
I set the paste aside and made the buttercream. No problems with that so I put it into the fridge as instructed. It was then time to mix the praline paste into the buttercream. I measured out the required amount but felt that the buttercream was still rather sweet and not praline-y enough. So I chucked the whole lot in. It wasn’t that much more than what was required anyhow. The mixing with the buttercream seemed to make the overall praline cream much smoother and it was hardly gritty anymore.
Whipping Cream and Glaze.
No issues at all here. I must admit I used 1 cup of whipping cream rather than the required ½ cup. The reason being that I couldn’t get any thickened cream and in order to get a proper consistency, I needed to whip a sufficient amount of cream – ½ a cup wouldn’t quite cut it!
For the glaze, I used Orange Marmalade rather than Apricot jam. It was simply what was available on hand you see.
I’m glad I have a Wilton Cake Leveller that allows me to slice layers very easily. However, because of the amount of nuts in the cake and probably due to the fact that perhaps they weren’t ground finely enough, the cake tended to be slightly crumbly when cutting. I still managed to get very nice even layers though. I soaked the bottom layer with the sugar syrup before spreading the buttercream on. I found that the buttercream spread very nicely! I then spread half of the whipped cream over the buttercream and then slid another layer on top and positioned it neatly. Repeated the soaking, buttercream and whipped cream and then slid the top layer on before realising that I was supposed to soak the underside of the top layer too. Never mind. Small problem. I then covered the cake with glaze and chucked it in the fridge. It was now time to make the Ganache
No issue here either as my middle name is Chocolate. I have made Ganache many a time and there were no surprises here. I omitted the corn syrup simply because I had forgotten to buy my usual substitute of Liquid Glucose. No drama here as the Ganache poured very nicely over the cake and I stuck it in the fridge for a little while as I prepared my piping bag.
I think this is the first DB challenge that I have actually really decorated nicely. I made a ring of stars in the centre of the cake and garnished it with hazelnuts and hazelnut chocolates slice in half. I then piped another ring of stars around the cake and piped shells at the base.
Judge and Jury
The Lovely Wife had taken my little princess for a birthday party and they got home at about 3pm. The Lovely Wife immediately asked if the cake was ready so I told her to go look in the fridge but not to lay her hands on it as it had to set for 3 hours. My son and daughter were also not impressed that they had to wait so long!
Later that night after dinner, we cut the cake. Both my son and daughter ADORED the cake and wanted seconds. The Lovely Wife declared that the cake was “Bee yoo tiful!” She also declared that this cake was too good to be enjoyed by ourselves. So the following night, we invited my daughters Godparents over for cake. There was still some left over as this cake is not something that you can eat a lot of so both the Lovely Wife and I took some to work to share with our friends.
Suffice to say that it was a Hit! Everyone loved the cake!
If I was to make this again, I would grind the nuts a little finer as the Genoise was a little chunky. Still delicious but chunky nonetheless.
So yes, another challenge completed and I must say it was a lot of fun although a little tiring. Thanks once again Chris for a fabulous challenge and Happy First DB Birthday to me. Finally, did you notice that once I started on the cake, I didn't need to use any FFLWs at all. Not even once.
June 2008 - Danish Braid
May 2008 - L'Opera
April 2008 - Cheesecake Pops
March 2008 - Perfect Party Cake
February 2008 - French Bread
January 2008 - Lemon Meringue Pie
December 2007 - Yule Log
November 2007 - Tender Potato Bread
October 2007 - Bostini Cream Pie
September 2007 - Cinnamon Buns
August 2007 - Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
July 2007 - Strawberry Mirror Cake
and the Challenge done later - Pretzels