The Daring Baker’s Challenge is a baking club, and this was my first month. It’s internet-based, and we’re given the challenge the first of the month. On the last day of the month, we all post pictures and a blog about our results. The challenge this month was to recreate a very, very complicated cake that is called “Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream.” It’s from an old cookbook called “Great Cakes, by Carol Walter. At least I assume it’s an old cookbook, because who the crap calls hazelnuts “filberts” without getting punched, repeatedly, in the mouth. Also, who writes a 7 page recipe for a single cake? What single cake costs $80 to make?? Why does it taste so much like Nutella?? I’m getting ahead of myself.
The cake basically consists of several layers. First, I had to peel about a bazillion hazelnuts (actual number: 1.124 billion). I accomplished this by taking whole, organic hazelnuts and dropping them in boiling water with baking soda. I then put them into ice water. I then added my iPhone to the ice water. The electric shock from the destruction of a $500 phone helps to release the hazelnuts from their peelings. Here is a picture, partway through. This part of the task made me want to punch elderly people or cut down redwoods or something equally heinous. As you can see, Carol Walters is apparently one of the lucky elderly who has not been afflicted with severe arthritis, or she would not have devised this type of torture mechanism.
These hazelnuts got turned into: nut meal, nut praline brittle, and one blonde nutcase. Then the meal got whipped into a foam cake, which is like a regular cake, only involves fun “steps” like dirtying your double boiler and whipping egg whites over low heat until they’ve given up and gotten jobs.
The brittle got bashed into paste via my Cuisinart and a fair amount of swearing. Then, I made a Swiss buttercream. The Swiss buttercream is solely responsible for the advent of Swiss Cellulite. It has an entire pound of butter, along with more egg whites, beaten until they’ve called egg white safehouses and are subsisting on canned goods and support groups. The Swiss buttercream does not wish to actually continue BEING a Swiss buttercream, and spent a lot of time breaking off into factions, which then had to be heated, cooled, beaten, spoken harshly to, etc, until they became a functioning unit again. Once the Swiss buttercream had agreed, temporarily, to stop seceding from the union, I introduced the praline brittle paste, and that seemed to unify them all, probably because they were laughing at me together. So that’s another layer.
Then there’s whipped cream, made of cream that has been smacked so soundly that it cringes when you walk into the room.
And apricot glaze, which is where you boil water and apricot jam, pull out all the fruit bits, and have a gel leftover that is, if I am not mistaken, relatively pointless.
Also, there is a ganache, which is a chocolate sauce made of cream and shaved Belgian semi-sweet, fair-trade chocolate (cost for such a product is apparently determined by syllables in the name). This also involved the double boiler, which I had always assumed was a piece of equipment that was more a placeholder in my cupboard to prevent the bakewear from encroaching on the cookwear, but I was wrong.
I created a boozy simple syrup with Grand Marnier and Jamaican rum, most of which made its way down my throat and into my belly, but some of which was brushed across the genoise to keep it moist and glisteny. Anyway, once all the layers had been assembled, I wanted very little to do with the eating of the cake. The piece I had was delicious and complicated, but again it tasted a lot like Nutella. I actually gave the whole cake, minus my piece and Chris’s piece, to the same pulmonologist who barfed on my stairs. This was the week BEFORE he barfed, or I might have thought twice.