Almond Gateau with Buttercream Frosting

July 30th, 2008

Voila, the white sheep of the Daring Bakers this month.

Because, you see, every other Daring Baker this month made a dark chocolate covered cake.  I, on the other hand, decided to do something a little different.  And realized, very quickly, that there was a reason the recipe didn’t call for a white chocolate ganache.  White chocolate is not nearly as opaque as dark chocolate.  My cake, even when covered with ganache, was kind of terrible looking.

Fortunately, I had some leftover buttercream that I had been planning to use to decorate the cake, and enough of it that I could do a second layer of buttercream over the entire cake.  Which is how we got here:

Um, ok, Katy.  So why doesn’t your buttercream look anything like everyone else’s?  Oh, right, the buttercream.  I’ve made praline before and know that you have to watch them every second or else the sugar will burn and be disgusting.  But somehow, the directions on this recipe messed with my head, because I tried to follow the “don’t stir” directions and burnt the sugar.  I would have started over, but it was literally my LAST 1/4 cup of sugar in my whole apartment.  So, out of dire necessity, I left the buttercream vanilla-flavored.

And at the end of the day, it tasted great. The genoise with almond was wonderful (in fact, it was my favorite part of the cake, and I am such a frosting girl usually)!  The layer of white chocolate became invisible but tasted amazing, and the buttercream was good.

And, it happens to be my birthday this week, so perhaps I’ll have a second go at this recipe!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Almond Genoise
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds.  Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture.  You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process.  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 ¾ 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 ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter 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 butter 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
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

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 Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric 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 overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter 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 liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
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.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

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

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 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 buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third 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.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings.  Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. 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, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream.  Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake.  As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting.  Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center.  The leaves should overlap.  Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tags: desserts · food

38 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sue bette // Jul 30, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Happy Birthday and your pictures look great – Thanks for the detailed recipes!

  • 2 Sarah // Jul 30, 2008 at 8:55 am

    it is always fun to do something a little different to stand out…your cake turned out lovely!

  • 3 Fearless Kitchen // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:00 am

    This looks wonderful, vanilla buttercream or no.  Happy birthday!

  • 4 veron // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I love it that you made yours different. It is very pretty! Happy Birthday!

  • 5 Jen // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Happy Birthday!  Your cake looks great.
    P.S.  I have definitely been there with the ‘I’ve just used my very last bit of x and it’s a disaster’

  • 6 Judy // Jul 30, 2008 at 10:35 am

    your cake looks wonderful. I love the whiteness of it!  Happy Birthday BTW!!!

  • 7 VeggieGirl // Jul 30, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Your “rebel” gateau, with the lightly-colored frosting, is brilliant – I love that you made it unique!

    Hooray for it being your birthday week!! Happy birthday :0)

  • 8 Michelle // Jul 30, 2008 at 11:07 am

    White chocolate is a whole different ballgame then dark chocolate…that’s for sure.  It’s taken me some time to adjust to it and now I have little problem.

    Your cake looks so pretty and I think it was worth the headaches to try the white chocolate.

  • 9 Amy // Jul 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    You are much braver than I am…I thought about white chocolate but quickly pushed that thought out of my mid.  But seeing your photo made me smile instantly, what a fun cake!  Happy Birthday!

  • 10 Jen (Modern Beet) // Jul 30, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Happy Birthday!
    I’m a delinquent Daring Baker this month…  unfortunately I only realized I wouldn’t have time to make this until AFTER I had already purchased all the ingredients.  I applaud your white chocolate experiment!

  • 11 maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) // Jul 30, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Oh, I love rule breakers, bravo.  And, it looks like you learned a couple (or relearned) a couple lesson.  Cute cake.

  • 12 Ann // Jul 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Happy birthday, you rebel, you! Nice cake!

  • 13 Susan/Wild Yeast // Jul 30, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Great save, it’s beautiful. Happy birthday!

  • 14 Kristen // Jul 30, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Darn, I am going to miss yummy cake this weekend, aren’t I?  Sorry for being such a disappearing friend this year, especially on your birthday weekend.

  • 15 sunita // Jul 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Your cake does look pretty…advance wishes for your birthday, dear Katy 🙂

  • 16 Natalie // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Your cake looks so bright and beautiful!  Great challenge!

  • 17 Amber // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    What a beautiful cake!  Excellent job.

  • 18 Mary // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    The white chocolate is great–and it does make your cake a standout in the world of dark chocolate ganache!  Happy birthday wishes.

  • 19 Erin // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Your cake looks beautiful!  I like the lighter colors, especially with the pink popping out.  Hope you have a great birthday!

  • 20 Dana // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I’m all for doing things a little bit differently – had a bit of trouble following the rules myself – as usual!

  • 21 JMom // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    nice improvisation! I started to do a white chocolate ganache too since that was all I had in the house. Someone used the bittersweet chocolates I bought the week before to make his specialty, fudge cake.

    Happy birthday week!

  • 22 Elle // Jul 30, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Your cake looks like a party! So appropriate. Hadn’t thought about needing a double coating of buttercream with white chocolate…now I know for when I make a cake like yours…so pretty!

  • 23 Aparna // Jul 31, 2008 at 7:15 am

    What a colourful and great looking cake. It does stand out in the dark chocolate crowd.
    Happy Birthday in advance.

  • 24 venus // Jul 31, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Very different (and colorful too) and I like it! Way to go!

  • 25 Erik - Baking in Oregon // Jul 31, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Your cake looks great – I like the ‘lighter’ version – that’s the most unique I’ve see so far.

  • 26 Andrea // Jul 31, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    I like the pink! It goes very well with the white frosting. Nicely done! We enjoyed the cake too, especially after it had time to sit in the frig and really soak up that Grand Marnier syrup. Mmmm.

    Happy Birthday!

  • 27 Paula // Jul 31, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Beautiful cake!! love the colors.
    Happy birthday! I just had a b-day too:) Hope yours is wonderful!!

  • 28 Jaime // Jul 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    love the spring colors! beautiful cake! happy birthday too 🙂

  • 29 Dharm // Jul 31, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Well Happy Birthday to you!  Your cake looks just great!  Love the icing

  • 30 clumbsycookie // Aug 1, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Lol! Your cake looks very happy! Happy birthday!

  • 31 Kate // Aug 1, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Hello Katy …hope i havent missed your birthday already … Happy Birthday …and 2 thumbs up to you for being different 🙂 It does look a bit retro with all the coloured icing but according to me those were the real cakes back the :p

  • 32 HoneyB // Aug 1, 2008 at 8:27 am

    I love how colorful your cake was!  I have a feeling my DIL would love it too!

  • 33 ashleystravel // Aug 1, 2008 at 10:40 am

    So creative to mix it up like that.  And pink is my favorite color, so I might be a bit partial here 🙂

  • 34 Kitt // Aug 1, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Happy birthday! I think your cake looks fabulous. I would never attempt such a thing in a million years. It would take me three days, I would screw it up, and then I would have to console myself by eating the whole thing. If it were edible, that is.

  • 35 Claire // Aug 1, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Great job!  I did a dark chocolate ganache and it was so thin it might as well have been white!  Good for you for being unique.

  • 36 Candace // Aug 2, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Nice job!  I used almonds too, and LOVED the cake!

  • 37 Michelle // Aug 5, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    A beautiful adaptation! And happy (belated) birthday!

  • 38 Elle // Aug 5, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Katy, Happy Belated Birthday!  You definitely have the most festive looking DB cake this month.  It looks wonderful!

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