Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Daring Bakers

The August 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge is brought to us by Chris of Mele Cotte

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

I have had Great Cakes by Carol Walter for a long, long time. Its one of those cookbooks I am a bit fearful of. Honestly. The cakes are so lovely and elegant, I am not worthy. Heee!! When the opportunity to host the DB challenge came along, I knew exactly where I would head to choose a recipe. This Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream is one cake that I have looked at with a raised eye brown because it looked perfect. Just look at the picture! So, I am excited to see what everyone comes up with for this month.

To download the recipe in .pdf format, click HERE


1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
1⁄2 cup / 120ml heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using 3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Yield: 1 x 10″ / 25cm layer cake
Preparation time: several hours
Baking time: 35 minutes
Cooling & chilling time: several hours
Recommended: preparing over 2 – 3 days

Filbert Genoise

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

1 1⁄2 cups / 215g / 7 1/2 oz hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2/3 cup / 85g cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup / 200g granulated sugar, divided 1⁄4 & 3⁄4 cups / 50g & 150g
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp grated lemon rind
5 large egg whites
1⁄4 cup / 56g / 2 oz warm, clarified butter (100 – 110°F / 38-43°C)


Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350°F / 175°C Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a 10 x 2” / 25 x 5cm inch round cake pan.

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. You’ll know 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.

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 3⁄4 cup / 150g of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Set aside.

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 1⁄4 cup / 50g of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another 1⁄2 minute. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

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. 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.

Note: If any separate butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know 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. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

Note: 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 1 cup / 240ml, good for one 10″ / 25cm cake, split into 3 layers. Can be made in advance.

1 cup / 240ml water
1⁄4 cup / 50g granulated sugar
2 Tbsp dark rum or orange flavored liqueur


In a small, heavy-based saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.

Praline Buttercream

1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup / 80ml praline paste
1 1⁄2 – 2 Tbsp Jamaican rum (optional)


Blend 1⁄2 cup / 120ml buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream

4 large egg whites
3⁄4 cup / 150g granulated sugar
1 1⁄2 cups / 3 sticks / 340g / 12 oz unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 1⁄2 -2 Tbsp Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp vanilla extract


Place the egg whites in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). 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. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120°F / 49°C) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.

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.

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 too soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Note: If the buttercream won’t come together, reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The 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.

Note: If 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.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 x 16oz / 500ml plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste

1 cup / 5 oz / 140g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2/3 cup / 135g granulated sugar


Line a jelly roll pan / rimmed baking sheet with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10″ / 25cm 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. 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. 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.**

Then pour 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. To make past, process for several minutes.

Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze

Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup / 200g thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp water


In a small, heavy-based 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.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. 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

Makes about 1 cup / 240ml, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10″ / 23 or 25cm layer cake

6 oz / 170g good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
3⁄4 cup / 180ml heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
3⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 – 1 tsp hot water, if needed


Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1″ / 2 1/2cm pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reaches a gentle 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.

Carefully blend in vanilla mixture.

If the surface seems oily, add 1⁄2 – 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 the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer upside down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup / 120ml of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the moistened layer with a 1⁄4″ / about 1/2cm thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with 1⁄2 of the whipped cream, leaving 1⁄4″ / about 1/2cm 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 knife with an 8″ / 20cm 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″ / 25cm 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″ / 30 – 35cm pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Starting 1⁄2″ / 1 1/2cm 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 3⁄4″ / 2cm 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″ / 5cm 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.

Great Cakes
Carol Walter

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