Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Daring Baker's Challenge 2008: Pine-nut Gateau with Praline Buttercream

This month's challenge was definitely a challenge. Although my cake turned out perfect, I managed to ruin it by decorating it like an ape :P Yeah, the wilton cake course doesn't teach you how to use ganache most effectively... but oh well, my family still enjoyed the cake. Delicious!

The original recipe is for a Filbert Gateau with Filber/Hazelnut Buttercream; but since my sister is allergic, every time it said to use a certain nut-meat I simply substituted it for the same amount of pine-nuts. That way it kept the same nutty texture and aroma, but would still be edible by my entire family :)

Pine-nut Gateau with Praline Buttercream
Adapted From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
1 Pine-nut Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Fruit Glaze (original recipe calls for apricot, I used mixed berry)
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons Pine-nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic 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)

1. 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.
2. 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. 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.
3. 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. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.
4. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 pan on counter to remove air bubbles and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
8. 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.
9. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely. *If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup (makes 1cups)

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

1. 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.
2. 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)

1. Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.
2. 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

1. 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).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 toooooo soft.*)
6. On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.
7. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
8. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Buttercream Trouble-shooting: The Buttercream won’t come together!? Reheat buttercream briefly over simmering water for 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. DO NOT overbeat, or mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together. The buttercream is too soft?! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

9. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

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

1. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.**
5. 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.
6. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Mixed Berry Glaze (for one 10-inch cake)
- 2/3 cup thick mixed berry preserves
- 1 Tbsp. water

1. 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.
2. Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants.
3. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze (yields 1 cup)
**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

- 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. vanilla½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 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-ich 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.

I must say that this cake really took me for a whirl-wind experience. I had never used so many whole eggs before and stared so many egg yolks straight in the "face". The cake was delicious, although I think the presentation left much to be desired. The layers turned out beautifully, but to get to the tasty innards one had to overlook the very shotty job I did on the outer frosting and glaze. My parents didn't mind that the cake's side wasn't perfectly "patched-up" and flawlessly smooth, and neither did my sisters. They simply stared at the chocolate goodness and drooled :P Good things can come in sweet... sweet packages :) I don't know if I'd make the cake again (considering it used 2-3 cups of nut meat, and 7 eggs!!!) but the experience was one I will never forget.


Elra said...

Silver Rock!
Cake looks delice and what a nice even layer. I am glad you baked a cake that your sister could enjoy it! Well done!

Lisa said...

Pine nuts - awesome choice. (Strangely, they are a really common allergen, so it's interesting that your sister isn't allergic to them!) There's a gorgeous but obscure Italian cake called Torta Della Nonna which is a wonderful torte made with pine nuts and lemon.

Erik - Baking in Oregon said...

Your cake looks great. I would never have thought to use Pine Nuts since I only use them when I make Pesto - nice choice.

Maggie said...

I'm so curious as to how the pine nuts tasted. The praline pine nuts look delicious!

Jess said...

It looks delicious - great photos of the process!

Christy said...

I love pine nuts. They are so expensive here though.. Are they cheaper where you are? And your cake layers look perfect and even! Marvellous job!

Cindy Ruth said...

I think your cake looks great! What a different idea to use pine nuts. I love pine nuts, but never thought about making a cake with them. Great idea.

pixxienix said...

Hi Silver Rock :o) Score! Way to use pine nuts. I love your layerings too!

Ruth said...

Your cake looks great. Pine nuts I am sure tasted delicious. Must have been a much lighter cake than mine with the hazelnuts


Hey thanks for the comments!!!
I love the fact you used pine nuts. I LOVE pinenuts!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Wow, you've used pinenuts!!! That actually sounds so good! What a great cake you've made!

Y said...

I didn't realise pine nuts were ok for those with nut allergies. A good thing to keep in mind! Lovely cake, by the way :)

una donna dolce said...

how creative! I love it!

Angela's Kitchen said...

Using pine nuts? Brilliant! I bet the praline was yummy!

Your cake looks great! Thanks for sharing...

Candace said...

Yum! I like the use of pine nuts.. great idea!

awoz said...

Pine nut are so good and i can imagine the flavour in your cake! Very refined one!Keep on daring baking!

Camille said...

I love pine nuts. It was a good choice and I bet the flavor was yummy!

Your cake looks great and I'm glad your family enjoyed.

jamjarboogie said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog. I think your cake looks great, especially the slice photo. What I'm thinking is that if the recipe had had us do a crumb coat with the buttercream, chill it well then do the ganache, It would have looked better and have been easier.

I really struggled to get ganache just to cling to the sides, much less look smooth and beautiful.

Eat4Fun said...

Your cake looks very delicious and fancy! :-) The pinenuts are a nice variation

Also, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my first DB challenge.

bakerchick103 said...

Thanks for your comment. Your pics are great, and I love how you go through the whole process, step by step. Great post!

ashleystravel said...

Yummy looking cake. Very interesting choice with the pinenuts. I have always used them in more savory dishes. But looks like it worked.

Pat said...

Thanks for looking at my first Daring Bakers cake and for your nice comments!

I think your cake looks wonderul and I love the idea of using pine nuts as I love their flavor.

Beth Ann said...

Thanks for your comment! Your cake is cute too- I wouldn't have thought to use pine nuts because I usually think of them as savory. It looks tasty though. Lovely job!

Teenie said...

Love pine nuts! Did you like the flavors it lent to the gateau and buttercream? Your cake slice looks scrumptious and your layers are pefectly even.

Thank you for your kind words on my challenge outcome. It was a lot of fun . . . looking forward to the next! =)

hexe said...

I never thought of using the pine nuts in my cupboard. They look yummy!

Mushka said...

Your cakes looks amazing! Thanks for visiting my blog! I liked the combinations of the pine nuts and the glaze. Absolutly stunning!

Juliet said...

Why didn't I think of pinenuts? (head-slap) Good idea. I bet they were delicious.

Debyi said...

Pine Nut Gateau sounds amazing!!! I bet the pine nut praline was to die for. Who cares if its not a mirror finish, your not serving it to royalty, right? I think your cake looks great.

smaro said...

yummy!! Your cake looks wonderful. Pine nuts, something I must try with this recipe!

Dianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dianne said...

Mmmmm...pine nuts! What a brilliant choice! I think maybe someday I'll make this cake again and try it with pine nuts.

Nice work!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks wonderful! Pinenuts sound great!