This month's challenge comes from the book "Great Cakes" by Carol Walter. When I first saw it I had a mix of thoughts. First, it seemed so similar to other cakes we had recently been making. Then, it's been damn hot in Sacramento. We had the heat wave last week with 105+ and my house does not have air conditioning. (I survive locked in my bedroom with the window unit.) So I had no desire to turn on an oven. I debated sitting out. But I love a good cake and who can argue with a hazelnut and praline flavored cake?
The heat wave finally cracked. Because I was again blessed with a recipe that could be done in stages, I went ahead on day 1 and made the clarified butter and the hazelnut praline paste. My only problem was that I couldn't grind down the finished praline as fine as I wanted. I only have a mini food processor and it could only do so much. This didn't effect the taste, but it just made the praline buttercream have chunks that were too large to go through icing tips for decorating at the end. The praline buttercream called for 1/3 cup of the praline paste but I thought it looked too light, so I added a 1/2 cup.
The layers of this cake are as follows:
-hazelnut gateau - although I cheated and used almond meal instead. got tired of nut grinding
-the cake layers are brushed with a kahlua sugar syrup
Day 2 involved baking the cakes in the morning while it was still cool. Luckily it was still a low 90's day that day. So no ill effects of lingering heat in the house. I also made the sugar syrup. This was a near disaster because I forgot the first batch on the stove and soon had a houseful of smoke and near fire. Almost ruined my pot too.
Day 3 was making the buttercream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, assembly, and ganache. So you see the cake was very involved.
The recipe actually calls for an apricot glaze, but I hate fruit/chocolate as a combo. Don't give me a chocolate cake with a raspberry jam center. Yuk. I'm a nuts and chews gal. That's why I opted for the caramel glaze.
Overall review of this cake. Of course it was delicious, but I was not impressed by the cake itself. Seemed on the dry side. So if we piece together things we like from different cakes, I'd take the actual cake from the Perfect Party Cake and then I'd definitely use the praline buttercream again. In fact, I liked the base swiss buttercream recipe for this one a lot. And I have another cup or so of praline paste in the fridge for something else. You can see I crumbled a bit of the it on the top for decoration.