The Daring Bakers: Gateau with a twist

This wasn't my most successful challenge to date. I mean, I didn't have huge problems with it, no fallen cakes, no broken buttercream (I got that all out of my system for the Yule Log), no ultra thin glaze. Nothing like that, just not, in my mind, overly successful.

This month's challenge was chosen by the lovely Chris of Mele Cotte, who asked us to make a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. Filberts, for those not in the nut know, are another name for hazelnuts, a nut that is still banned from my household for allergy concerns. Chris, who the other day told her readers a way to make a kickin' good cob of corn on the bbq, allowed that we could change our nuts in the gateau, both due to allergies or cost. Good thing too, as hazelnuts right now are not exactly inexpensive. They are the opposite of inexpensive.

So I decided to use pistachios for my nut, both in the cake and in the buttercream. I love their green color, and salty crunch. And I had some on hand, which reduced my shopping needs. Actually, looking back, I think I had everything on hand to make this, except maybe the cake flour that I had recently run out of. I needed to buy some anyways, so I am going to say that I had everything on hand, including the liquor needed for flavoring the syrup, the buttercream, the glaze. The choice of liquor was also optional, first optional to even use, and then optional what kind to use. I went with Grand Marnier to give an orange touch to the pistachios. (You know, when you don't drink alcohol but only use it in baking, that little sample sized bottle of Grand Marnier goes a very long way.)


Sorry about the horrible pictures. I was in a rush, bringing my finished cake to a family gathering , and wanted a few quick shots before we went.

Now normally I would be jumping up and down with glee to have another good layer cake recipe in my repetoire, and one that was grown up, not intended for children. But it is July, and while we are not having a great summer, the one thing that has been consistent is the humidity. We are either shagged down by high humidity or it is raining. Which makes baking a bit of a pain, and buttercream an even bigger pain. Buttercream and humid weather just do not mix well.

And I had a hard time getting myself motivated to make the cake. I needed a push, an excuse to make a 3 layer, 10 inch cake, and people to eat it. If I had had to make it for just the 4 of us, I would have halved the recipe and made a half inch cake instead. A family gathering provided the push I needed, the excuse.

This cake has lots of steps. Make a syrup. Make a praline, then turn it into a paste. Grind nuts with flour, then gradually add them in to a light and airy batter that was made by whipping egg yolks and then folding them into whipped egg whites. Have lots of left over pieces of nuts that would not sift into the batter. Make a buttercream, turn it into a praline buttercream. Whip some whipped cream. Make a glaze, mine being an orange marmalade glaze, instead of apricot. Make a chocolate glaze, pour over cake, decorate cake. Lots of steps. Lots and lots of steps.

End up with a pretty, but lopsided, cake, sprinkled with pistachios and dotted with praline buttercream.


And the result?

Well, I didn't really enjoy it. I don't like semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, so not liking that was not surprising. I did not taste pistachio praline in my buttercream (but cursed the nuts alot when trying to pipe rosettes on the cake because the tiny pieces of nuts kept plugging up my tips.) The cake itself alternated between nice and moist from the syrup, and just okay. I liked the cake itself, the nuttiness of it, the texture, though it needed the syrup. Oh and I didn't taste any orange anywhere, not from the zest in the cake, or the liquor in any of the components.

My children barely ate their pieces, but as I've said, this is not a child's cake.

The biggest fan of this cake was my father-in-law, who loved it. Loved it so much that I left the remaining half a cake with him, rather than bring it home. It had everything he loves in a cake, nuts, a hint of alcohol, and dark chocolate.

My biggest issue with this cake was actually something other than flavor. Waste. To me, there was too much waste. The praline paste recipe made a good cup or more of paste, but we only needed 1/3 of a cup. And the cake recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of nuts, which were processed with flour and cornstarch and then shifted into the batter. I processed mine fairly well, but still ended up with more than 1/2 cup of nuts that did not sift into the batter. And while pistachios are not nearly as expensive as hazelnuts right now, they are still pricey and it felt very wasteful to have those bits left over.

Being a Daring Baker is not about the final result. It isn't about the recipe itself either. It is about a commitment, to the group, to the rules, and about pushing your boundaries. This cake pushed a few of my boundaries, so I consider it a success, no matter how the final cake came together. Our hostess for this month, Chris, took alot of flak for her choice, but isn't going to take any from me, no matter how I felt about the cake itself. Sure, I didn't like the cake. Is that her fault? No. Would I have liked it better if someone else made it? Probably not. I made the commitment to be a Daring Baker, and a Daring Baker I will continue to be. Thanks, Chris, for this cake, you Daring Baker you!

So bring on August! I am raring to go!

Now go forth and read, read, read all the other Daring Bakers out there! I know there are going to be some great cakes, and I know there are going to be some disasters. Isn't it great how one recipe turns out so many variations? Go find out for yourself....



34 comments:

giz said...

Sorry you didn't like the cake - yours does look delicious though and glad that you did it anyways.

Megan said...

Well, you get an "A" for effort in my book. I declined this month because of all the nut issues. Too expensive to make just for me to eat.

However, the cake looks great and it certainly was a challenge!

BTW - let me know what's going on with Isaac.

BC said...

We win some, and we lose some!But we always learn. I bumped up the orange flavour with orange falvoured syrup, orange in the cake, and orange ... good grief I forgot.

breadchick said...

You know sweets, after we chatted about the motivation and a few other things, I remembered that you weren't fond of semi sweet and dark chocolate.

Good Daring Baker! You took the challenge, completed it and the cake is gorgeous. Besides, your FIL loved it!

p.s. When I have a job in your area, I'll let you be my personal assistant :-)

Judy said...

That's the Daring Baker spirit! The pistachios sound like a good choice, too. I used my leftover nut-bits in some cookies, ones that call for finely chopped nuts. I couldn't bear to toss them.

Ann said...

Your cake looks wonderful... and you're a true DB-er for soldiering through it!

Courtney said...

sorry you didn't like the cake, it looked very pretty. sorry you didnt taste the pistachio in the buttercream, i think the praline buttercream was my favorite part. you did a great job though and your cake looks beautiful.

Hannah said...

I'm glad that your pushed yourself on this one, because the results are wonderful. That ganache top looks so shiny and flawless!

Lina said...

I think it looks wonderful! I applaud you for your effort!

Lori said...

Those are nice pics. I am always impressed by people who do not like the dessert but make it anyway. THats a true baker.

Cynthia's Blog said...

I appreciate anyone who tried this cake. You certainly were a success!

Camille said...

This was my first challenge and I learned a lot, but it was definitely a challenge with the high humidity and heat.

I think you did a great job. Your cake looks great!

Dharm said...

Great Job and I totally agree with you that this is what makes a DB - not whether you like the challenge or not. I'm sure your FIL was so pleased with you. I am so proud to ahve you as a fellow DB!!

Pat said...

Your cake looks delicious and I love pistachios. I guess the taste test is different for everyone. It was my first challenge and I leanred a lot making this cake and I loved it! It was a little hot and humid to make this and decoate it well, however.
Nice to meet you and the ohter Daring Bakers!

Elle said...

It's a beautiful cake even if not to your taste. It was interesting that so much nut meal was left, but I thought I'd done it wrong, so glad you mentioned it. Love your complete understanding of the DB way...and soon we will know what August brings :)

kellypea said...

"Opposite of inexpensive" so true, so true. And allergies to boot. Bummer. I love the idea of the pistachios as I adore them, but didn't have any, or I might have considered it. Your photos aren't even close to being horrible. Your cake is lovely, Grand Marnier and all! Cheers to your for your outstanding attitude.

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Your cake is gorgeous, the glaze is perfect! I agree there was a lot of waste which I found disappointing too. I was thinking I could use the praline paste on top of icecream. Sorry you didn't enjoy it.

Veron said...

Your cake looks awesome! Glad you got the push to make it. I missed the other 2 layer cake challenges and was determined not to pass this one.

Lorrie said...

I love what you said about being a daring baker, I too didn't care too much for my cake, but I have a feeling I would have liked someone else's :) Regardless, your cake looks amazing, great job!

HoneyB said...

I probably would have loved your cake! Looks delicious.

Amelia Bedielia said...

Your cake looks wonderful. Sorry you didn't like it but kudos on sticking with it through the end!

Ruth said...

The cake looks great. Im sorry you didnt like it. And I am glad you did it because I enjoyed seeing your cake,

Deborah said...

Too bad you didn't like it, but at least you found someone who did!! I gave my whole mini cake to my husband to eat!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks great! I did a pistachio-hazelnut mix. I am sorry it wasn't your favorite. But at least you did it and you did it well!

creampuff said...

Hey ... half the battle is perservering so you did a great job!

jasmine said...

I wasn't able to get to this month's challenge. So glad you kept with it--it looks delicious..


j

Half Baked said...

Love your Daring Baker attitude! It's about learning more than the final result.. Your cake looks great to me:)

Peabody said...

I wonder what it would have tasted like with the pistachios...I love those nuts.
At least you had someone who really enjoyed the cake...that's important!

MsC said...

Pistachio sounds yummy!~

Lunch Buckets said...

Twisted Gateau would make an awesome band name :)

TeaLady said...

I thought your cake was pretty. Too bad you didn't like it. Wish I had had a chance to bake it. Ah, well. Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your blog.

Lauren said...

Oh no! That's really too bad that you didn't enjoy your cake. However, the cake looks beautiful even if it did give you a lot of hardships.

wmpe said...

Your cake looks great! I too wondered about the extra ingredients and thought should I add the entire recipe of glaze to the cake or all the simple syrup? Pistachios sound like a tasty alternative to hazelnuts. Lovely cake. Wendy

Claire said...

Great job! Glad you father-in-law enjoyed it!