Daring Bakers in July: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

by Holly on July 30, 2008


Prepare yourself for one of the strangest analogies concerning baking that you may ever hear from me. Before I get to that though, let me take care of some formalities. This month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge put before us was chosen by Chris over at Mele Cotte (which is where you can find the recipe as well). I can completely see why she chose this cake because it looked fabulous – and thoroughly complicated. Many components, many skills needed. The end result – well, it really was nothing short of fantastic – and surprisingly different than the Opera Cake from May, which is the only other nut based cake I have made before. The flavors all blended and complimented each other perfectly and the texture was amazingly light and airy.

However, this recipe, in all of its 9 pages of printed glory, task after task and component after component, had me swearing up and down that this cake would most likely never be made by me again. This is the cake that took large portions of two whole days to make, we had to make a cake, a glaze, a ganache, a whipped cream, toast and skin the hazelnuts, make caramel, make nut brittle, make it into praline paste, make a swiss meringue buttercream, make a sugar syrup, torte the cake, use all of the above components to put it all together – along with appropriate waiting, cooling, chilling, wrapping, decorating, etc, etc.

Add on to that trying to make it in a strange kitchen with plenty of challenges (long story short – well, environmental conditions, unknown oven and wrong pan size all contributed to my cake basically falling apart – thus why the layers look so awful and crumbled!).


In other words this was basically a complete process in craziness to make. While I enjoyed the challenge – since I decided to make this at my parents place – they basically thought I was nuts. For two days I just heard “is it done yet?” “You still have to do what??”

So… the analogy that occurred to me as I sat tonight thinking about what I had to say about this cake? Well, it is no secret that pregnancy is not easy for me. I have long believed that women must have some switch in their brain that as soon as you get that sweet baby (or not too long there after) even though the pregnancy itself was (for me anyway) an awful, painful, life threatening experience that I didn’t think I would ever be able to or want to repeat – then you find yourself thinking about going through it all over again, because the end result is so worthwhile.


So… while I don’t think this cake is near as wonderful as my babies – and I know I couldn’t go through making this cake often, its siren song is already calling to me to try again. It really was a delightful new experience to eat (if not entirely to make).

Make sure to check out the amazing creations of all the other Daring Bakers and their adventures.


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Manggy July 30, 2008 at 7:10 am

Aw Holly, it does look really good. I’m glad it tasted good too 🙂 (I kind of cracked up at your parents’ comments.)

Mary Ann July 30, 2008 at 12:09 pm

great job on the cake. I love your analogy about this cake and pregnancy. 🙂 I already have a request to make this one again as a birthday cake, though. lovely piping!

culinography July 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm

When I told my parents that I’d spent six hours making the cake… slices of which we consumed in fifteen minutes… they had similar reactions. 😉

Lovely… in spite of it all. 🙂

Di July 30, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Your cake looks lovely. I’m really impressed that you made it somewhere other than your own kitchen.

~Amber~ July 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Your cake looks beautiful. I am glad you had success with it even though it took so long to make.

Ann July 30, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Your cake is lovely… and your photo compositions are awesome!

Teanna July 30, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Even though you had a tough time, your cake is deliciously gorgeous! It looks so moist! Well worth the work!

slush July 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

WOW! Im amazed Holly. You did an amazing job!

bakersbakery July 30, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Beautiful Holly!

Lisa July 30, 2008 at 2:52 pm

No matter the problems along the way, the finished cake looks gorgeous and the cut slice looks delicious too. I really like your photos. Great settings for this pretty cake!

Madam Chow July 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm

It looks great – I’m impressed that you got through it. I made the buttercream (cursing all the time) and then discovered that my whipping cream had soured. I did not have the time or the patience this month to go on, but I’m so impressed that you did!

Erin July 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Your cake looks great! Some people were surprised when I showed them the recipe and told them how much time I spent on this cake. It was a lot of work, but it was so delicious that I think it was worth it!

Katie B. July 30, 2008 at 8:34 pm

As time consuming and tricky as this cake was, you’re right, it was a totally satisfying accomplishment! Great job!

Rigby July 30, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Your cake is beautiful. I understand the love/hate relationship with the recipe. I vowed I’d never do it again too, but now I’m looking at the large bag of almonds I have and wondering what that would taste like….

Cynthia's Blog July 31, 2008 at 1:38 am

I could never do this in a strange kitchen, EVER!!! I too am in Utah. This was my second challenge. See Ya! Oh, the Ganache is the Panache!

Bumblebutton July 31, 2008 at 3:04 am

Well it looks just fabulous–I’m most jealous of your shiny ganache!

Jules Someone July 31, 2008 at 3:35 am

If I actually liked hazelnuts, I would eat this.

Allergy Mom July 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm

That’s the thickest ganache I’ve seen! Beautiful cake! (And if we mommies didn’t have that little switch in our brains, we would have died out a long time ago!) Libby

Deborah July 31, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I think your final cake turned out wonderful! It had me quite upset and tired by then end as well, but it was a challenge!! Now if only I could have eaten more than a bite of it!

Jenny July 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Now people thought I was brave making Dorie’s Party cake in a strange kitchen, but that was playdough compared to this cake. Holy cow!
So did the switch kick in and you are now willing to make it again? 🙂

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen July 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Well done! It’s always difficult baking in someone elses kitchen!

rainbowbrown August 1, 2008 at 12:08 am

Oh man. The loved ones thinking your crazy is an all too common theme in my cooking life. I love your cake, the slices remind me of when a cat starts to fall asleep and just lets its head droop to the floor so that its nose rests gently on the floor. It’s a compliment, really. 🙂
Great job.

Veron August 1, 2008 at 12:57 am

Looks to me you did a fantastic job despite all the challenges you encountered. Great job!

Hannah August 1, 2008 at 2:28 am

Good things come to those who wait, right? Personally, I think it was totally with the effort, and yours looks like it was too! Trust me, a little crumbled slice is nothing in the scheme of things. 😉

Clumbsy Cookie August 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

You have a perfect looking buttercream! Glad you suceeded!

Stephanie August 2, 2008 at 12:14 am

Nice job on the cake!

I thought the directions were a bit…confusing, at times. Doesn’t require mommy brain, either. Matt had a difficult time sussing them out, too!

broadcasting from a knitting parlour August 2, 2008 at 1:06 am

Nice writing! And that glaze. Crikey. Makes me want another piece right now! It does go down all too easily, nay?

Tartelette August 3, 2008 at 5:35 am

I love how your cake turned out even with all the difficulties encountered. Your parents’ comment cracked me up too!

Lauren August 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Ooo, your cake looks wonderful, even if it wasn’t that easy to make!

Jaime August 9, 2008 at 2:53 am

hahaha… i know what you mean about that analogy – the baking, i mean (never had a child before). i laugh at your comment though b/c i have heard soooo many women say they never want to be pregnant again but then somehow right after the baby is born they want to do it all over again!

your cake is beautiful! i agree that this cake, while similar at first glance to the opera cake, was so different (and better!)

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