Daring Bakers Challenge: Faux Filbert Gateau

Guess what, y’all!? I’m a Daring Baker! For over four months now, I’ve been jealous of the members of this tasty fraternity. I’ve seen cheesecake pops, breads, braids and cakes. I don’t bake much (except for my beloved biscuits) but when it’s time to bake great things, I think I do it well.

I’ve only made a cake once in the past seven months and I thought it time to brush up on my baking skills. I’ve heard that cooks don’t bake and bakers don’t cook, but I can do both, so here we are!

This month’s challenge was hosted by Chris at Mele Cotte. She chose a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter. A filbert is a hazelnut, a gateau (Ga-TO; plural is gateaux but pronounced just the same) is French for cake, a praline is a caramel covered pecan and buttercream is a type of frosting.

Since I am deathly allergic to tree and groundnuts, this challenge really started out being a challenge. I don’t substitute or attempt to compensate my recipes with nuts. I simply go without. I shy away from sesame and granola because more often than not, their tastes and aromas are reminiscent of nuts.

I don’t like the feeling of my throat and mouth constricting. I can’t work in a restaurant or other food establishment because of my allergies. If I could find a generous benefactor, I’d totally start a nut allergen-free restaurant or bakery. My world is scattered, covered, smothered and chunked with nuts. Living in the Southeastern United States, nuts are a part of daily life. North Carolina is a lead producer of peanuts, (it’s actually a legume, but we’re not going to split hairs nor start arguments here) and they are listed on every menu in almost every restaurant. You find them in salads, drinks, desserts, and even thrown on the floor as decoration. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

I think of my gluten/casein-free and vegan friends and I realize that they have to overcome challenges in every day life to enjoy food and the lifestyles they lead. If they can do it, I can do it, too!

I won’t post the original recipe as is because I had so many substitutions. I won’t post the procedure either, unless it’s germane to something specific. If you’d like the recipe, I’m sure 1000s of my fellow DBers have it on their blogs. I halved the recipe because A) it was allowed B) I wasn’t sure how the substitutions would affect the overall outcome C) I wanted to make a mini-cake. My mom’s birthday is on Friday and she is in love with chocolate the way I’m in love with bread.

This gateau recipe has many parts that have to work together to make the whole.
1 Faux Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup
1 recipe Soynut Buttercream
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons soynuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

What? Soy nuts? What are those? They're roasted soybeans. I discovered soy nuts almost a year ago. A friend was snacking on them and gave me a small bag to try. They can be used just like nuts. They act like nuts, taste like nuts, and can even fool that most die-hard nut fan. They come shelled, raw, roasted, boiled, salted, unsalted, and in “butter or whipped” form. They’re available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other specialty retailers but you MUST be careful because many of the packages say: May contain wheat, eggs, nuts or parts of nuts, because they might be manufactured in plants that use those items.

If you’re allergic, sensitive or have any doubt to your allergen state, DO NOT eat/buy those products labeled as such. Too many times have I been tricked into eating such an item and I got a no-expense paid trip to the emergency room with an Epi-Pen stuck in my leg. Not fun. Not cool. Adrenaline rush, my ass. Adrenaline is no joke and not fun when it’s rushing artificially to your heart to prevent you from dying.
OK, sorry…I just want you to know how serious it is.

Faux Filbert Genoise
1/2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup oat flour
1/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3.5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar, divided in half
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2.5 lg. egg whites
1/8 cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

I had no problems making, scaling, or baking the cake. It turned out sweet, uncharacteristically moist, and oh-so delicious. I was quite surprised. The oat and wheat flour gave it a textured mouthfeel that I assume is akin to a nut-made cake.

Sugar Syrup Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar

In a small, yet heavy 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. *Can be made in advance

Soynut Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup soybean butter

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the soybean butter, then add to the remaining buttercream.
Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.

I am so glad I didn’t have to make the praline paste for the original cake. The only paste I’m comfortable making is garlic paste. I cannot tell you how glad I am. The only reasonable facsimile other than tahini (which I cannot stand; it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth) I thought I could use was soybean butter. It’s like peanut butter, but better because I can eat it! I had some Soybean Butter from Trader Joe’s and it was easy to use.

Well…it wasn’t easy at first. The soy nut butter is supposed to be refrigerated and so I had to warm it up a bit in order to blend it in the Swiss buttercream. I used the microwave, pressed the POPCORN button and went over to the mixer to fret over the buttercream. The scent of peanuts filled the air. “Oh, wow. The microwave is doing its job. Let me check on it.” This is what I found:

I’m slightly embarrassed about this. Go ahead, laugh. I did.
The soybean butter was burned with crusty bits in the middle, and had burned through the bowl. I thought it was microwave safe….I guess not. Or maybe I shouldn’t have pressed POPCORN. Fifteen seconds would have been suffice.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 tsp. vanilla
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 toooooo 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.
Buttercream is a precarious fellow. If it’s too hot, it melts; Butter contains water and the slightest movement can make those water molecules come gushing out, ruining your hopes and dreams. This happened twice this week. I used dried egg whites because I hate saving yolks for something I’m never going to use them for.

Apricot Glaze Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy 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.

OK, so I used strawberry preserves and I used the microwave again. This time I checked to make sure the bowl was microwave safe. It was. Thank God.

Ganache Glaze Makes about 1 cup
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
3 oz heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Set vanilla aside. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and chop finely with a heavy knife. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently 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 ½ - 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!

OK, so I didn’t do any of that either. My boyfriend for the evening, Microwave, came in handy. I put the cream in another microwave-safe bowl on high for about 3 minutes, added the chocolate, covered it with Saran, and waited 5 minutes. I then whisked in the vanilla to combine the chocolate and cream. I worked in a restaurant where I had to make ganache nearly every night and there was no microwave. I had to heat cream on the stove and then add the couverture pieces to it.

"I got the golden ticket!"

If all chocolate tasted like Ghirardelli, I'd eat it more often. Most American-made chocolate tastes awful.

Assembling The Cake
Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of buttercream and set aside.
Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch 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 night with an 8-ich 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 inches 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-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Starting ½ inch 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 ¾ inch 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-inch 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.

We were allowed to decorate the cake anyway we wanted and I was so happy about that. I could only find my #826 tip. I couldn’t my shoebox full of tips, needles, disposable pastry bags, and offset spatulas.
I could not get that buttercream on the cake fast enough. As a matter of fact, the piping was kinda shotty. I just wanted it to all be over at this point. I was still pissed about the soy nut butter burning up my little bowl.

Originally, crushed, chopped filberts are to be sprinkled in the middle. I took roasted soy nuts and did the same.

Here it is! My Faux-Filbert Gateau with Soynut Buttercream

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

Leave a reply

  1. Great adaptation Nik. Be careful with that allergy. I am trying to figure out why I have to choose between being a cook or baker? Why cant you do both well . Im going to look at us as food artists working in many mediums.

  2. Beautiful job Nik! And I'm sure it tasted fabulous with all your adaptations!

  3. Congratulations Nikki. I think you did a great job. It looks fabulous, just like you.

  4. Your faux hazelnut gateau recipe sounds so good I'm going to make it for itself, not as a substitute for anything. Of course I love anything with oats in it :)
    Your adaptations are brilliant & I'll bet the soybutter made a great combination with the buttercream. Your cake is really pretty, too.glad you are a Daring Baker!

  5. I like how you made a bunch of substitutions and changes but still stayed true. Anyway I can save on the amount of dirty dishes or stove top boiling I have to do, the better. Great idea with the roasted soybeans, they sound like a winner to me.

    See you next month for the challenge.

  6. Wow, this really was a challenge for you! I hope you enjoyed it after all you went thru to make it! Great job and you get many thumbs up for this!

  7. I love your adaption! Soybeans taste amazing, so I know the flavor of this cake, along with the oat and whole wheat flours, was really good. Excellent job on this challenge!

    LOL, most American chocolate is horrid, but Scharffen Berger is amazing. Yes, it's acquired by Hershey's, but they don't get any say in the production or aspect of what makes SB brilliant.

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

    Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

  8. Congratulations you did a grat job and the cake not only looks beautiful but delicious.

  9. i sooo pass on making this. i'll eat it but i'm only baking biscuits...lol

  10. NICE job! I am so glad you figured out such a great creative way to make this cake!

  11. What a magnificent looking cake! Congrats on your first challenge.

  12. Courtney: I've had this allergy since the age of 14 and every year it gets progressively worse :(. Hey, who says you have to choose! I think you're a great cook/baker!

    Joelen: Thank you!

    Teresa: You make me feel good about myself, thank you so much!

    Elle: Thank you! This cake tastes so awesome that I want to make it every week just for the great taste. I hate making buttercreams but this might be an exception. Then again....I don't know..

    Adam: I HATE washing dishes. I'd rather scrub a floor on my hands and knees.

    Honeyb: I did enjoy it! I'm so glad I'm a Daring Baker now! I feel like I could pin a badge of honor on my chest.

    Christina: I'll have to check out that Scharffen Berger...thanks for telling me about it!

    Faery: Thank you!

    Darius: LOL I'd bake a biscuit before a cake any day. But on the real, this cake is dank.

    Jenn: Thanks! I cannot wait for next month! I really think being an alternative baker is right up my alley: switching up traditional ingredients, making it work, and taste good, too!

  13. Emiline: Thanks a bunch! I hope there are lots more challenges to come, for me.

  14. Lovely! And I'm totally not laughing about that microwave thing. Swear. Welcome to the group :)

  15. Good for you doing this despite your allergies & having to do all the substitutions. This was a hard recipe on its own so you get extra points in my book

  16. Hmmm... soy nuts! I love soy nuts, I chose to use pinenuts for mine because my sis has a nut allergy; but maybe I'll try soynuts next time! Great job on your first DB challenge :)

  17. lunchbuckets: I'm glad you're laughing. I'm dumb. I should have known better.

    kat: Yay! Thanks! I think you're a totally awesome cook, so that means a lot coming from you.

    silverrock: I know pine nuts aren't real nuts, but I stay away from them because I think I have "sensitivities" to them. I figured out today that they don't keep after about 2 days in the fridge. They can get soft and soggy.

  18. Great Job making it nut free! Your cake looks great!


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