I survived my 2nd Daring Bakers Challange!!

Chris from Mele Cotte honestly tried to kill the Daring Bakers this month! She choose the Filbert Gateau for July’s Challenge from Great Cakes by Carol Walter. I had never heard of a “Filbert Gateau”. I read the directions OVER and OVER and OVER again and I was still baffled! So I had my darling husband read them(our children haven’t sucked his brain out like they have mine!!)

After I got all of my ducks in a row, I did the cake a few steps at a time over 3 days!

I have to say I did not like the taste of the cake at all! It was a bit dry and boring in flavor! I must say the Praline Swiss Buttercream was to dye for! However, when I brought my sister one of the mini cakes to try, she was outside at the pool and all of the ganache and the buttercream literally melted and slid right off the cake. It was amusing to watch!

The decorating was a pain in the ass. Probably because I cut the 10″ cake into 6 mini cakes. I tried everything to get those damn sides smooth, but nothing worked. The tops were as smooth as glass, but the sides were far from perfect!

I hate to say this but I threw all but 1 of the cakes in the garbage. First I didn’t like the taste and second I didn’t like the way they looked! I blame it in my perfection gene!

I am glad that I was challenged to make this cake, however I will not be making it again!
View all the other BEAUTIFUL DB’s creations here!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup 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
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 cups1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. 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.

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 lg. 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 lg/ 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.

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 cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

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.

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.


  1. 1
    Michelle says:

    Your minis are adorable. I made my first minis too and I really enjoyed making a small cake.

    I really like how you decorated yours too. Great job!

  2. 2
    Emaline says:

    Leslie I think that your cakes looked great! It sounds like a French recipe (am I right?) European pastries are not as sweet as americans are used to and the cakes often have a bit of a different texture . . . it looked great though!

  3. 3

    Your little cakes are adorable! They sure LOOK tasty, but I’m sorry you were so disappointed. I’m kind of glad I opted out of participating this month. I knew I wouldn’t have the time. Great job!

  4. 4
    Dhanggit says:

    i love the way you gorgeously rendered this filbert in mini cakes!! such a brilliant idea!! you are indeed a great baker my sweetie!! i love it!!

    but your sleeping beauty cake is my favorite LOL!!

    have a great day!!

  5. 5
    Speedbump Kitchen says:

    The mini cakes are awesome, great job!

  6. 6
    VeggieGirl says:

    Not only did you survive the challenge, but you produced PHENOMENAL results, Leslie!!! Look at those stunning cakes!!

  7. 7

    I love the mini cakes! Sorry you didn’t like the taste, but at least they look fabulous, right?

  8. 8

    Beautiful job on the challenge. I’m taking a short break from DB but will be back shortly, wish I had a slice of your cake!

  9. 9

    Love the look of your little minis! So adorable!

  10. 10

    Luv your mini cakes and the way you have decorated them.

  11. 11
    noble pig says:

    Cute idea with the mini-cakes! So adorable…this was a monster recipe or collection of recipes I should say.

  12. 12

    Sometimes it’s just as important to learn what you don’t want to make again 😉

    No one can say this month’s recipe wasn’t a certifiable CHALLENGE, huh? LOL

    Have a delicious day!

  13. 13

    They look sooooo delicious! So beautifully decorated, I don’t know that I would have the patience to decorate those but your hard work has paid off as it looks great : )

  14. 14
    Cathy C says:

    The Mini Version is great – This looks amazing and wow you did a lot of work here and you did survive!! Great Job!!!

  15. 15

    Beautiful work. I just couldn’t bring myself to make this in the summer. I wanted to, but I need to wait till I need a really special dessert-like maybe Christmas.

  16. 16
    sleepingbearinthekitchen says:

    Despite your thinking this cake was a PIA I really think you did a marvelous job!!! Your ganache looks flawless!!! Very nice job!!

  17. 17
    jillian says:

    You mini cakes look awesome!

  18. 18
    genkitummy says:

    your cakes look great! they are so cute!

  19. 19
    shellyfish says:

    I did minis, too! But your decorating job really takes the cake! So beautiful…

  20. 20
    Prudence - Cake Chica says:

    Great job, girl!! You are always SO funny!! My brains are gone too!! We both survived this one. Thank goodness.

  21. 21

    i’m super impressed, leslie! very, very nicely done!

  22. 22
    Anjanette says:

    Love the mini cakes! I agree….I loved the “challenge” of this challenge, but I didn’t love the result.

  23. 23

    Very nice! I really like the minis. If I ever joined Daring Bakers and posted what I made I would probably be kicked out:)

  24. 24

    Whew! I’m tired reading your post–that looked so hard. You really did a fantastic job. I’m glad I didn’t join the club, yet as I would cry because it’s too hot for the diva to bake something that hard.
    Maybe in the fall I will join. I know you keep pushing me to join, but for now I’d rather watch you! Ha ha. Nice job sweetie.

  25. 25

    Great photographs and fantastic decoration Leslie!

  26. 26
    una donna dolce says:

    Your cakes are so cute!

  27. 27
    Michelle Dargen says:

    Wasn’t the buttercream to die for?!?! I have a feeling I will be making that a lot. Praline buttercream filled cupcakes or even just by the spoonful. YUM!

    Thanks again for introducing me to DB’s. So far it has been an absolute blast. I am really looking forward to next months challenge.

  28. 28

    You are brave making mini-cakes… too much work for my lazy self. But they sure are cute!

    I thought the cake was kind of boring in the taste department too. But hey, there’s always next month 🙂

  29. 29

    I saw your mini cakes on the forum! I love these!

  30. 30
    MaryMary says:

    Mine didn’t get eaten either…but they sure were a stretch on baking and decorating skills eh? I think yours look fabulous!

  31. 31

    your mini cakes are scrumptuous!

  32. 32
    Proud Italian Cook says:

    Sorry you didn’t like the taste, I didn’t either, mine tasted very bitter. Unfortunately mine ended up were yours did! I thought your ganach looed great! A challenge it was for sure!

  33. 33
    The Stressed Baker says:

    Wow those look delicious! I love that you did the minis!!! You have given me some ideas for when I do it in the future.

  34. 34
    Clumbsy Cookie says:

    As I’ve told you before, I think they’re adorable!

  35. 35
    Bridgett says:

    You did a beautiful job, Leslie! I do not have the patience to work on a cake that long, so kudos to you. The recipe was unbelievable!

  36. 36

    Your mini cakes look great! Its too bad they did not taste as good. I would really have like to try the praline buttercream.

  37. 37

    I love the variations you made for your mini cakes!! I thought about doing that too but it would mean that I have to buy mini metal cake moulds which I really can’t afford right now.. Great job on your 2nd challenge!! Love it!!

  38. 38
    Southern Plate says:

    Oh my!
    I am speechless, it looks divine!!

  39. 39

    Beautiful job! I whimped out on this challenge, not really my cup of tea. We seriously need to do something other than layer cakes! Yours looks stunning though!!!

  40. 40

    Your mini cakes are so sweet (no pun intended) looking. Sorry you didn’t care for the flavor of the cake.

  41. 41
    jodycakes says:

    Wonderful JOB!!!! Most excellent with all the different shapes and sizes

  42. 42

    Love the way you decorated your cakes! They’re very cute. Too bad you threw most of them out!

  43. 43
    Venus ~ Vi says:

    OMG!!!! Your mini cakes are so loveable! Yup, coming up with ways to decorate was a challenge….

  44. 44

    Ooo, your cakes are adorable! I love the decorations!!