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Puff Pastry……..Just Chill!

Posted by vivnidhi on September 27, 2009

Puff pastry is the most delicious thing to eat….all the buttery goodness and crisp flaky layers…..I can always drool. I would not have imagined making those in this life if it wasn’t the Daring Bakers……..prompting, coaxing, luring, guiding and what not. This bunch is really out there to make you daring in life.

In India, puff pastry with spicy potato & mixed vegetable filling were called patties and they were the most delicious things you could lay your hands on. It would always be the first item to finish in a get-together. Even the soggy ones would be gone before the rest of the stuff. These are usually bought from either a canteen or a local bakery and I somehow associate it to my college days. For some strange reason (maybe the egg wash) I never remember eating it at home. Those are my memories associated with the puff. After coming to the US, a friend of mine told me how easy it was to get frozen puff pastry here and make patties. Well! when I got shopping, I bought phyllo dough :-). No matter how hard I tried …….I would not be able to make patties…..whatever I made was delicious but not THAT. I do not even remember if I made the real thing for my in-laws when they were here (or maybe I did on my last trip) …..they too are very fond of it like me… But some years back, I discovered the puff pastry in the grocery store and I attained the joy of finally making Patties at home. I have a killer filling recipe (Thanks to my Mother in law) who taught me the Samosa filling and I use a similar method for this filling. My Dad was really pleased when I made it for him and it’s no easy job pleasing him, he has a very keen sense of taste.

BUT I hardly ever make it……..all that butter…..I think my life is more precious than patties. OK, haven’t I been talking a bit too much of patties? Obviously doesn’t end here……the saga continues…….

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!” 😉  These are pronounced “vo-o-voh” (Let me make use of High School French 🙂 )…….it’s ok to not pronounce “Hors-de-oeuvres” correctly for the longest time ;-). The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

No dessert vols-au vent here, masala filling as always 😉 .

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Spicy Vegetable filling Vols-au-vent

The Recipe:

Equipment:
-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-fork
-oven
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to “glue”). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

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Puff Pastry dough……..before rolling out & 1/4 of the dough rolled out

Steph’s extra tips:

-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don’t want the hard butter to separate into chunks or break through the dough…you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don’t roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).

You can find lots more general tips for making puff pastry on-line, including here:
http://www.baking911.com/pastry/puff.htm

I encourage everyone to watch the on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book:
http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Spicy Filling Recipe:

  • Potatoes 1 or 2 (depends on your inclination) chopped in small cubes 
  • Mixed Vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas ..) 1 1/2 cups (I used frozen mix as I was in a rush)
  • Fresh Ginger washed, scrubbed and minced  2″ piece
  • Green chilli minced 1 (optional)
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp. (Vegetable oil is fine too)
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander seeds dry roasted and ground coarse 2 Tbsp.
  • Amchur/Dry mango powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala 1/2 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves torn 1/4 cup (optional)

Heat oil in the wok. Add cumin seeds & asafoetida. When the spices seem to sizzle, add half the ginger and green chilli (if using). These do taste good when a little spicier than usual. Add the potatoes and mixed vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the wok.

When the potatoes & the vegetables become tender, add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well and cover again for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and finally add the cilantro leaves and mix well. The filling’s ready!

The video is a must watch. I can’t call my tryst with puff pastry a complete success. You must check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see the real stuff. But this has tons of potential. I need some more practice and better butter 🙂 to make the perfect puff pastry. So, you can see I do not have high standards for myself on this one. I am quite pleased. I took some at my Son’s preschool potluck (oh yeah 😉 ) and they were very well received. I brought none back. I made a crude galette with spicy peas …of the leftover dough scraps for  friends…….again everything was gobbled leaving none for me..(everybody forgot :-)) ) Anyway, I couldn’t be happier…..not being able to taste the final product gave me the kind of joy that eating the whole thing wouldn’t have.

Expenditure is left for tomorrow …….I need to sleep.

Tomorrow is here already!!

Expenditure:

Cake Flour………From Kroger……………………….$ 3.14

Butter…………..From Walmart……………………..$ 1.98

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Total…………………………………………………..$ 5.12

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Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Asafoetida, -Butter, -Cake Flour, -Canola Oil, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Garam Masala, -Ginger, -Green Beans, -Peas, -Red chili powder, Eggs | 13 Comments »

I am a Daring Baker too!

Posted by vivnidhi on July 30, 2008

This post is long.

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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

You bet, I am a Daring Baker too! Otherwise why would anybody with such limited skills and equipment attempt this…………:). I am so glad I am a part of Daring Bakers now……..because I learnt a lot from one challenge itself and learning  is a lot of fun. So, this month’s challenge was hosted by  Chris of Melle Cotte and the challenge was : Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. I was really glad that my first challenge turned out to be a cake. I love cakes, so I was really excited about making it.

Even though a little expensive, I wanted to try the recipe as is with hazelnuts. The husband remarked ” Didn’t we stop buying mixed nuts cause they have hazelnuts in them” Yeah! but nutella has plenty of hazelnuts. I had made my mind so we bought a pound:). Thankfully, the husband had dark rum and orange Curacao in his bar otherwise that would have added to my expenditure too……

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

  1. 1 Hazelnut Filbert Genoise
  2. 1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
  3. 1 recipe Praline Buttercream, flavored with dark rum and Orange Curacao
  4. ½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  5. 1 recipe Strawberry Glaze
  6. 1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using, flavored with Orange Curacao
  7. 3 tablespoons filberts (hazelnuts), toasted and coarsely chopped

The 1st day I prepared the sugar syrup, toasted and tried to skin the hazelnuts as much as I could and coarsely chopped the few I could. So item no. 2 & 7 were done. I toasted the hazelnuts in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Removed and immediately put them in a wet towel and rubbed to remove as much as I could. Not a lot of success there. Earned a blister too trying to take the hazelnuts skins off. What is with cakes and my blisters?

Day 2  Tried to skin more hazelnuts and I succeeded!! Thanks to a fellow Daring Baker who wrote about boiling them with Baking soda, skinning and toasting again. That worked, Phew!! So prepared the praline. Mine got darker than it should but it was so…….. good with the buttercream. Guess the praline flavor came out well because of the darkness.  Prepared the strawberry glaze.

Day 3 : The genoise day. Everything was fine until I dropped the butter I was trying to clarify. Not a lot fell but some did. So 2 Tbsp was the clarified butter and 2 Tbsp. was ghee I had at home. The cake took longer to come off the pan but thankfully it did, without breaking. Made the buttercream. Chilled the bowl in which I made the Swiss buttercream. This is the star!! The best buttercream I have ever made. Mixed with praline, its heavenly.

Day 4 : Finally, assembled the cake. Could not slice the layers uniformly. Used floss to cut the cake.  Whipped heavy cream, prepared the ganache. And yes, I got to pipe anything seriously for the first time. Not impressive but good for me:) . All is fun, that is fun when done, right ??

Here goes the detailed recipe with my comments in black:

Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 large egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10” X 2” 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 ¾ cup 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.  Remove and 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 ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.*  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.  **If collected 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.
*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.

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Genoise:Straight out of the oven: surface becomes uniform as it cools

This Recipetips link is a very good help in understanding how eggs should be beaten for the cake. It would be a good idea to use parchment paper under the cake as it was difficult to take it out. I used a 9″ pan to bake the genoise.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

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.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup 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
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a large/ bowl of a electric 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 degrees) 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 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.
Wait! My  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.
Wait! My 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 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

It helps to have the bowl chilled in which you make the buttercream.
Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch 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 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 paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place.  Do not refrigerate.

Praline is easy to make, as long as you are patient. It gets burnt easily, thankfully mine didn’t even though it got darker than it should. The consistency of the praline paste becomes like peanut butter when processed. This is necessary so that there are no pieces in the buttercream and it is smooth enough to pipe with.

Strawberry Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick strawberry 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.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm – great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.
Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket 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 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!

Assembling 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 praline 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-inch 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.  Stating 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.

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The last layer : Thinning out in the middle:)

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One last look, not too bad, eh!

Expenditure:

  • Hazelnuts- 1 lb $6.69 from Trader Joe’s (about 1/2 a cup left)
  • Cake Flour – $3.19 from Kroger Lots left
  • Unsalted Butter-$3.09 from Kroger half a stick left
  • Semisweet Chocolate 8 oz  $3.30 from Kroger 2 oz. left
  • Heavy Cream-$1.50 from Kroger
  • Lite Corn Syrup-$1.99 from Kroger lots left

Total: 19.76……not too bad.

Before I forget , this cake is dedicated to my mother whose birthday was on  the 18th and who loves cakes flavored with Rum. It just incidentally so happened that this cake had rum in it.

Even though I didn’t like the nutty texture of the cake initially, it matured on us and we liked it more after a day. It took us 11 days to finish the cake between the 3 of us and it was great till the last day. I know, sounds weird but it took us that long to eat it. I am glad I tried it.

Check out Daring Bakers’ blogroll for much more beautiful pictures and cakes.

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