July 30, 2008

DB Pecan Gateau with Praline Buttercream

For July's Daring Baker Challenge, Chris from Mele Cotte picked a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter. I have to admit I wasn't as enthusiastic about making this cake. This seemed like another fussy layer cake with a nut-based cake and an egg-based buttercream. I knew that Alex and John wouldn't be thrilled about it and it seemed too similar to May's Opera cake.

I tried not to give in to my doubts and so I went ahead and made a half recipe cake. I choose to substitute pecans for the hazelnuts since I had a bag of pecans from my recent shopping stops in Georgia. The praline paste was my first step. You can't go wrong with caramelized sugar and toasted nuts. It was delicious! I moved on to making the gateau (cake). I went ahead and used eggs but substituted warm canola oil for the clarified butter in the original recipe. The cake was very light and airy. Despite my troubles with the Opera cake buttercream, I attempted making the Swiss buttercream with Earth Balance. It really wasn't a smart move. The Earth Balance was too soft and the frosting while tasty wasn't pipeable even after extensive chilling. I knew I could sacrifice flavor and beat in shortening to stiffen things up but my principles wouldn't let me. I made do and froze the cake between steps. To cover the cake, I used a new ganache recipe per another alternative Daring Baker's suggestion. Little Rosa posted a link to this recipe from David Lebovitz. It uses butter (Earth Balance in my kitchen) and water instead of heavy cream for the ganache. It worked well and set up nicely. Decorating the top went badly but I covered the shapeless blobs of frosting with toasted pecans and tried to make the best of the sloppy frosting.

The finished cake was good. The praline paste in the frosting tastes wonderful. I just need to find a way to work it into a dairy-free frosting that will be stiff enough to pipe. The pecan flavor in the cake wasn't as noticeable as I had hoped. I think I preferred the jaconde from the Opera cake in both taste and texture. Perhaps there is some magical combination of the two cakes and my own frosting that could work. I just think all the syrups and layers aren't worth it in the long run when I'd much rather be eating a spoon of the praline paste straight up. The cut slice was a big hit with my kitten Abbie though. She just refused to stay out of the shot! I hope this distracts you from the fact that the bottom layer was oversoaked in syrup and got stuck to the serving plate. Oh well...

Until next month, please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see some other successes and failures and come on over the Daring Bakers Kitchen to chat with us.
The full original recipe is available in Mele Cotte's post here.

P.S. I'm not sure if I typed in the date incorrectly or if there was an error on the part of Blogger future post but I really didn't mean to have a copy of this up on Tuesday. I'm SO sorry!