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daring bakers: filbert gateau with praline buttercream

Recipe: filbert gateau with praline buttercream

It is Daring Bakers time again, kids. This month’s challenge was hosted by the lovely Chris of Mele Cotte. She chose a filbert gateau with praline buttercream, by Carol Walter. Thank you, Chris, for hosting this month! Be sure to have a looksee at the rest of the Daring Bakers’ creations!

the daring bakers: we knead to bake

I am quite the fan of hazelnuts, so I was pleased to see a hazelnut-based recipe for the challenge. Of course, I only skimmed the recipe before getting started. It goes like this every month. I skim the recipe and think everything looks pretty good. Then I select a day when I have the time to devote to the challenge. Then I get started.

if you can buy them skinned, do so

pulsing the hazelnuts with flour and cornstarch

The hazelnut genoise had several steps to it. I used to be all about following the recipe. Now I know better. I am all about making my life not suck. I like to purchase hazelnuts that are already skinned if possible, because I have skinned hazelnuts before and it drives me to insanity.

pretty yellow yolks

beaten to ribbon stage

The genoise required pulsing the nuts into a meal, beating egg yolks to ribbon stage, and beating egg whites to a meringue. Then all of this was incorporated together in the most annoying little itty bitty steps. I think Carol is all about little itty bitty steps. The woman has too much time on her hands. I think if she had been in the kitchen standing next to me during my challenge, I would have throttled her.

fold this into that

fold the nutmeal into the batter, one itty bitty bit at a freaking time

Carol is really into adding ingredients a little at a time. Her recipe made me cuss a lot, not to mention it was a very hot day, so I cussed some more. Then I took the blasted cake out of the oven and I had some choice words for no one in particular.


The cake cratered in the middle, although it was completely set. I’m sure it was the altitude as everything folded just fine and I had no settling or stratification of nuts from the egg. And when I inverted it (after loosening the sides and most of the base), the center still stuck to the bottom of the pan. When I was greasing and flouring the pan, I did give pause and considered using a parchment base like I do with every other genoise I make, but I stupidly trusted the recipe. Goddammit. Instead of a 10-inch cake, I had to scavenge the damn thing for as many 3-inch layers as possible. This was starting to piss me off. At $10 a pound for hazelnuts, there was no way in hell I even considered baking it a second time. Screw that.

swiss meringue buttercream, my way

When I read the recipe instructions for the Swiss meringue buttercream, more profanity ensued. By now I was no longer in a mood to entertain following the instructions anymore. The cake had cratered, it was hot, and I still had what? a gazillion more steps and Carol Walter had it in her head to add the sugar to the egg whites one microgram at a time? No thanks, lady. I used the Swiss meringue buttercream technique I learned in my pastry class.

Call me pissy, but I wasn’t going to make praline paste either. Did I mention that the heat makes me cranky? Yessireebob, it does. I had hazelnut butter in the fridge and I used that to make my praline buttercream. Not only does Carol Walter appear to have infinite time to add sugar to egg whites or nut meal to cake batter in tiny little increments, but she must also enjoy generating and washing thousands of dishes. I hate her.

piping whipped cream

glazing the cakes

I had serious issues with the structural composition of the cake(s). Whipped cream on top of buttercream in between layers? Carol doesn’t say to add a crumb coat, but that is exactly what we needed instead of applying warm apricot glaze to the whole cake. Why? Because that warm apricot glaze just melted the buttercream on contact and refused to adhere to the sides. Great idea, Carol. GREAT. I was only able to glaze the tops of the cakes with apricot glaze. And for the chocolate ganache glaze, I did a 1:1 chocolate to whipping cream because I was fed up with the recipe.

In the end, I thought the concept was a nice one, but the recipe blew. Maybe if it were winter, I would have been more receptive. But the execution of this whole thing seemed to be far more complicated than it needed to be to achieve these results. I am not one who likes to make my life more difficult than necessary, and Carol Walter made my life more difficult than necessary. She is forever banned from my kitchen. Overall, I thought the cake was okay – not awesome, not terrible.

it wasn’t easy getting here

verdict: meh

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
[print recipe]
from Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tbsps 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 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 tbsps cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided 1/4 & 3/4 cups
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
5 large egg whites
1/4 cup warm, clarified butter (100–110°F)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10×2-inch round cake pan. [Jen’s notes: use a parchment circle in the bottom of the pan and butter over that.]

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 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 1/4 cup 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.

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 tablespoons 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
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsps 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 [Jen’s note: I used hazelnut butter]
1 1/2-2 tbsps Jamaican rum (optional)

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

swiss meringue buttercream
[Jen’s note: I didn’t use this method, I followed the quantities, but used this method for swiss meringue buttercream instead.]

4 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 1/2-2 tbsps 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 tablespoons of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120°F) 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 tablespoons 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.

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
[Jen’s note: I skipped this process and subbed hazelnut butter.]

1 cup (4 ½ oz) hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
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 minutes 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.

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

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. heavy cream
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/2-1 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!

Assemby: 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 tablespoons of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a 1/4-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with half of the whipped cream, leaving 1/4-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.

80 nibbles at “daring bakers: filbert gateau with praline buttercream”

  1. peabody says:

    I went for my own recipe of Swiss buttercream as well. I laughed when I read hers. And yes, there were many a step…one too many.
    I did like the flavor but agree that this would be better as a winter cake…mine liked sliding all over the place.

  2. zorra says:

    Wonderful fil(i)bert gateau and awesome step-by-step pics too!

  3. Kitt says:

    Just meh? That’s a lot of work for meh! It sure looks good.

  4. Rosa says:

    I also would have prefered to bake that cake during the winter… Anyway, yours looks fantastic, perfect and dainty!



  5. manggy says:

    Omigosh… It took me a few seconds to figure out what POS meant. You’ll hate me for this but reading about your journey is hugely entertaining :) Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you just gave me a mental image of Kylie Kwong throttling Carol Walter. And there is the matter of separating egg yolks and egg whites for genoise too– something Flo Braker disagrees with. I yearn for a catfight between the two. You just know sweet Braker has all this pent-up rage inside of her. Meow!!! It’s been a looong time since I’ve had a cakesaster, I have the uneasy feeling that my time is coming.

    Can we be friends again if I say that your petit gateaux look really cute? Because they do!! :)

  6. Christy says:

    Your photos are so beautiful!! And I love how you’ve documented the whole process!! Everyone seems to be getting even, straight lines with their whipped cream and buttercream filling…I must’ve done something to upset the gateau gods..Stunning photos!! (I feel that I have to say this twice because they are just too gorgeous!!)

  7. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    I love how you photograph the process. I’m always curious about how many shots you take to get the one you want.

  8. Mrs Ergul says:

    It might not have tasted fantastic. At least, it looked fantastic! I’m sorry you didn’t quite enjoy the process of baking this! I’m sure the next one will be better! xxoo

  9. Ann says:

    I loved this cake, but also thought it was overly complicated– and left out the whipped cream altogether. Also used a different buttercream recipe! I love the look of your little cakes!

  10. abby says:

    i never pay attention to those little itty bitty steps either – life is too short!

    great cake jen, despite the trouble along the way.

  11. Caitlin says:

    You said everything that I had to censor out of my own post – fabulous. Damned itty bitty steps, I just started dumping things about halfway through the recipe.

  12. veron says:

    I did get a bit annoyed at the amount of dirty dishes this cake produced. And it was darn hot over here too. But I must say, you got all those gorgeous pictures and such a lovely cake!

  13. Sarah says:

    I made small cakes as well…wasn’t too impressed with them and it took too long to make. Yours look great, as usual!

  14. Bridget says:

    I just love your beautiful pictures combined with your hilarious text! That made me laugh! I really felt like I was right there in the kitchen with you! :)

  15. Mia says:

    Seriously – When a recipe calls for me to make my own freakin’ praline, then GRIND IT UP to a “paste”….well, that’s when I find a new recipe. I did it this once, but I think it may have been the last time…

  16. Sonya says:

    Bravo it look so delicious!!

    I love your blog!! IT’s one of my English favorite!!

  17. jennywenny says:

    Ha ha ha!! You always make me laugh, but this was very funny! I dont have enough experience to know a good recipe from a bad one! I did decide to use parchment anyways so that part was good. I found the technique with the whites and yolks gave me something that it was easier to fold in the dry ingredients, but I kind of dumped it in in portions and I certainly didnt count 40 turns!! The part I’m annoyed about is the ganache. There was no way I could get a nice covering if I was to just pour it over the cake with the apricot glaze.

    The praline was totally worth it though!

    Your cakes are beautiful, as always!

  18. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Jen, please tell us how you really feel ;) I always enjoy your post and your stuff always turns out gorgeous even when you swear at it.

  19. Lezel Safi says:

    Way too many friggin’ steps for this amateur! Kuddos to you for sucking it up and finishing, that baby would’ve been a special treat for the doggies after it crumbled in my kitchen…possible my nerves are thin when three little ones are running around me wanting to help when I’m in the kitchen, ummm? Yea, that’s it! Regardless, your version looks stunning!

  20. Sweet Tooth says:

    You spoke (some of) my mind. The recipe is clearly written for someone who has never attempted such a cake. I also switched the buttercream process to avoid the dishes and I almost always add the sugar all at once right away (who has the time, I agree).

    Still smiling about your comments.

    Alexandra, who will let Carol Walters back into the kitchen as long as I can skip right to the procedures I prefer.

  21. Alexa says:

    Amazing pictures. It’s like seeing a master at work… Hazelnuts are the best and way under-used in my opinion.

  22. John says:

    OMG, I laffed till I peed, well not really that would have been one step too many like in this cake!!!! I will forever remember adding sugar “one microgram at a time”!!!! Thank for a very hardy laff, I kinda needed one today!!! Very nice job on a cake you weren’t too fond of!!!

  23. Bridget says:

    How funny. I think I’m not experienced enough in pastry to realize that the fussiness of the recipe was exceptional. Oh, except for the clarified butter – that made me roll my eyes.

    Making mini-cakes was a great way to salvage the cake though. I hadn’t thought about the effect altitude would have on a cake like this, but I guess I’m not surprised, in retrospect.

  24. Madam Chow says:

    Your “duds” look like my very best stuff! Don’t ban Carol from your kitchen yet – her coffee cake book is terrific, and does not trigger cursing. I gotta tell you, though, I’m really hating buttercream. That’s as far as I got this month, and in 90+ degree hit, it was a bear. I’m really praying that we do not have buttercream again for a while.

  25. jillian says:

    I am glad that I wasnt the only one shouting expletives while baking this cake :) It looks great though.

  26. Kelly says:

    It’s refreshing to read your post and review of the recipe. Your pictures are stunning as usual and make what you consider to be an okay dessert look like a work of art.

  27. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    I though your post was interesting, but it was hard to concentrate on it as your pictures were so ethereal–particularly the yellow of the eggs.

  28. marye says:

    hey ….your cake is amazing! it must be all the profanity… scared it perfect.

  29. lauren says:

    your cake looks great!
    i also like that picture of the egg yolks!

  30. Danielle says:

    Well, it looks good! I’m laughing at “POS” as I named my old Jetta that a few years before I finally kicked it to the curb.

  31. Nemmie says:

    Hee! Glad to know I was not the only one cursing this recipe. Your finished cake, however, is stunning. Fabulous job!

  32. Michelle says:

    Sorry you had problems but your cake turned out so cute! I honestly think the minis are stealing the show this time.

  33. diana banana says:

    i’m more of a “mix…mix…combine…bake” kind of gal, and just scrolling down that insanely huge recipe list to get to the bottom of this page sort of made me ill. i can’t believe you had the patience to get through all of this! the cakes look beautiful though!

    p.s. i almost licked the screen when i saw those egg yolks.

  34. Judy (Judy's Gross Eats) says:

    In spite of everything, the cake, as usual, looks terrific. I’d agree with you on the instructions. I read the buttercream one, and decided to make it in a much more straightforward way. Love the photos.

  35. Amy says:

    Beautiful mini cakes, Jen!! Well done. You said what I was thinking in my head about the recipe at the time…it WAS too complicated for the end result. You did the right thing buying the pre-skinned hazelnuts…I will never get back the time I spent on that. Ugh.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    Shame it was a pissyfying experiance (although, funny as hell to read about) but thanks for your honest opinon. It will save me from even thinking about wasting my time and money on a MEH cake. My theory is that some recipes are made more complicated to pad the ego of the chef. “I PRODUCED THIS MAGNIFICENT AND HIGHLY COMPLICATED CAKE” [complete with grand gestures] To flag these ego building, time wasting, recipes is a service to all. so, Keep up the Good Work. ;)

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Chef = Author of Recipe….not the average innocent victim who stumbled across this recipe thinking it was the only way to the desired result. (not meaning to slam all who made this cake…yikes!)

  38. Cynthia says:

    I like your little cake, I followed the directions to a tee and it about killed me and took me 2 days. Hazelnuts are my least favorite nut. Honestly, the family did not want seconds.

  39. BC says:

    Tee hee, flat cratered cake just begs for a fake flan stuffing like mine!

  40. Hannah says:

    Your layers and ganache-coating all look so even, I would have never imagined you has any difficulties. Kudos for pushing on through the frustration!

  41. Mollie says:

    I think this month should be renamed pissy bakers. :) Looks pretty tho… but like so many pretty, picky things, not always worth the effort….

  42. Carly says:

    Great job on the challenge! Your mini cakes look so cute! And your pictures are very beautiful, well done:)

  43. Dana says:

    I had some choice words for Carol myself at many times through this challenge – good point about it being more complicated then needed.

  44. Lori says:

    You kill me. I can always count on you for the uncensored blog that tells it like it is. And yeah I definitely wondered why we needed whipped cream on top of buttercream. It didnt really add anything for the taste or texture. As always love your eye candy pics!

  45. Tartelette says:

    Oh God…I am seriusly holding my ribs over this one! Yes, there was a lot of unnecessary steps and ‘xplanations. We liked the cake just not everything around it :)

  46. Y says:

    Great photos, as always! I wasn’t a big fan of the recipe either, after trying it out. But it’s all about embracing the challenge, isn’t it? And I think your cake turned out really well despite the problems you encountered!

  47. Holly says:

    My cake did the same frakkin’ thing. I wanted to just say forget it, but went through with it. I definitely couldn’t make it often, but someday I’ll probably try it again. Your mini cakes look darling though!

  48. Katie B. says:

    Beautiful photography!!! While I really like the cake itself, the instructions couldn’t been more annoying or sillierly (I made that up) arranged.

  49. E L R A says:

    these are very good looking photographs!
    By the way, where did you get (buy) the skinned hazelnuts?

  50. Kevin says:

    Your cake looks great even after the collapse. Nice shot of the egg yolks.

  51. Erin says:

    Sorry it was so problematic- you mini cake still looks very cute. I love your step-by-step pictures- they are beautiful as always.

  52. Courtney says:

    Beautiful mini cakes.I always love your words and pictures.

  53. dayna says:

    It’s in cases like these that creativity is of upmost importance.
    Obviously yours is not “meh”. Lovely cake none the less, great post! You made me smile — many times.

  54. kj says:

    LOL!! I almost drew the line at clarifying butter for a cake. For goodness sake – pedantic or what. Luckily I loved the end result.

  55. Karen says:

    Wow, I love that picture of your egg yolks in a hexagonal closed pack formation! haha, so dorky, but that’s all I could think of looking at it =P

  56. Jacque says:

    Seriously, at the risk of sounding like a 15-year old rock and roll groupie… your post, your pictures, your site all ROCK! Wow, girl you have some talent. phew… (whistling under my breath) (I need to stop before I embarress myself, lol)

    Love your adorable little cakes.

    BTW, I am so not into apricot glaze… what is up with that? besides not sounding good, it just doesn’t make sense… covering a crumb-prone cake with sticky thick syrup? sounds like a headache in the making. Anyway… great job!

  57. Sathya says:

    Your gateau looks gorgeous! You can see all the seperate layers so clearly, mine moulded into one. Well done (I wish I’d bought skinned hazelnuts! Urgh what a chore).

  58. Christina says:

    I completely agree, Jen. The directions were a bit drawn out and rather unnecessary for a cake that wasn’t super. Parts of it were good, but I probably won’t be making this again. Luckily, I didn’t even attempt the apricot glaze.

    Nice save!

  59. Ivonne says:

    Your pictures make me want to slather myself in that buttercream!

    (Did I just say that out loud???)

  60. Foodie Froggy says:

    Wow ! Absolutely gorgeous !

  61. Lisa says:

    Your photographs are heaven in a frame, girl!

    And that’s a frikkin’ hilarious tale. Gotta admit (even though I actually thought the cake was delicious and elegant in the end) Carol did one spectacularly badly written recipe. Just LOVED your observation: “I used to be all about following the recipe. Now I know better. I am all about making my life not suck.” See, me, I used to be all about taking the easiest route from A to B (read: avoiding cookies that involve creaming the butter for ones that involve melting…) So joining DB was all about forcing myself into tougher recipe-land, even if it is only to learn that recipes are there to be improved on…

  62. Lisa says:

    Oy, Jen, your post made me laugh! I would never have guessed from the final photos that there was anything wrong with the recipe. I love the way you’re so blunt and honest. :)

  63. marion says:

    “Meh” :)))))
    It looks great ! as usual here ;) I’m out this month but I’m glad to see all those fantastic cakes !
    ANd just … congrats for the end of radiations !!!!!!

  64. Dharm says:

    Jen, Your cake looks great even with the ‘crater’ you had. I too thought about making the buttercream the ‘usual’ way but followed the recipe anyway. Have I told you I LOVE your pics? So amazing! Great Job and I too did some cussing with this cake!!

  65. Michelle says:

    Definitely a winter cake. I wish my baking nightmares turned out to be as good looking as yours. ;)

  66. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Jen, I think your little cakes look adorable, but I would never give this recipe a try after reading all you went through with it…

  67. Aparna says:

    You may hate Carol, but I love your cake.:)
    And the pictures, too, especially the egg yolks.

  68. Lisa says:

    Hmmm.. you know, I thought that I was hearing F-bombs dropping one day not too long ago.. I’m sure Carol felt a shiver or two go up her spine too. heeee!

    Well for all the arse pain, you sure did make it look effortless.. :)

    Congrats on your last day – YAY!!!!!


  69. dagmar says:

    Beautiful layers! The mini cakes look wonderful.

  70. Erik says:

    Awsome site. Awsome photos. Awsome cake. Keep up the good work.

  71. Clumbsy Cookie says:

    Lol! I was laughing reading your post. I think Carol has someone to do the dishes for her! I love your yolks flower and the little cakes, dispite all the “nice” words you sayed during the making, turned out adorable!

  72. Andrea says:

    Agreed, I think Ms. Walters has some kitchen elves to clean up after making these cakes! I sure could have used a few. I always buy the skinned hazelnuts because I hate how the little skins go all over the place.

    I think your cake turned out awesome! And congrats on your last day of radiation!

  73. Aran says:

    Jen- i have been in colorado all week and haven’t had a chance to see what you did with the Db challenge. absolutely stunning photos as always. brilliant blog you have here!

  74. Wendy says:

    Your photos of your process are wonderful and your cakes look fabulous (if I hadn’t read your post, I never would have known your frustrations). I wondered too about the lack of parchment and went ahead and did it anyway and I have read around about other genoise sticking issues. I too did not add the butter to the Swiss meringue according to the recipe (no more dirty dishes, I thought). Your cakes look great. Wendy

  75. Jyotsna says:


    The cakes look fabulous!!! Great job despite the hurdles :)

  76. Khan says:

    Hello, I have hazelnut flour but I don’t have hazelnut. Obviously 1 and 1/2 cup hazelnut n 1 and1/2 hazelnut FlOUR is not the same. Can you tell me how much hazelnut FLOUR should I use in cup measurement or in grams? How can I make hazelnut buttercream with hazelnut flour? I cannot find whole hazelnut in my country.

  77. jenyu says:

    Khan – from google, 1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts weighs about 172g (on average). To make the buttercream, you could try placing a cup of hazelnut flour in a food processor and processing it until it turns into a paste (maybe add some honey to help it along if it’s too dry). Then measure out the amount of paste you need for the frosting.

  78. Stephen says:

    Personally I prefer Italian buttercream. (instead of beating the whites over heat, you beat the white, and melt the sugar to soft ball and mix that into the beaten eggs) It’s really not all that different from swiss, I suppose its more complicated but I’ve been making Torrone so often that to me it was…make torrone but instead add butter. I’ve left it plain, added chocolate, peanut butter…you name it…but oh so good.

  79. Sonya says:

    I love your honesty! I wanted to share a tip for peeling hazelnuts that actually works. It used to drive me nuts toasting them and rubbing them between towels to “remove” the skin, which was only about 20% successful and therefore absolutely infuriating! I came across a tip by Alice Medrich that works! Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add 3 tablespoons of baking soda and your hazelnuts and boil them for 3 minutes (the water will turn black). Pop the hazelnuts into ice water to stop the “cooking”, and peel under running water. It is still messy and somewhat time consuming, but the skins come RIGHT off at the touch, with none left behind. I no longer dread hazelnut recipes :)

  80. jenyu says:

    Sonya – Thanks for the tip! I will definitely try it the next time I make anything with hazelnuts :) xo

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