30 July 2008

Praline Cake


This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Chris at Melecotte. Chris was the best host every and so supportive when I emailed her (multiple times) about the recipe so I really want to say thank you to her for helping me get through this one. At first I had a mini panic attack about all the components (jaconde, syrup, buttercream, praline cream, whipped cream, glaze and ganache- my heart rate is rising just typing it out again) but once I realized that most of the components are very similar to those of the Opera Cake I calmed down a bit and the cake actually started to sound good. Plus, it would give me a chance to use the Shrubb orange liqueur that my friend C- recently brought us from Martinique.

The base flavors of the cake are hazelnut and chocolate, with a hit of citrus with some lemon zest and the Shrubb, along with a tart apricot glaze. The directions Chris gave are really detailed (another reason for my worries- if a recipe goes on for more than a page, I have doubts about my abilities to follow it) but my breaking the cake down into it's component parts and taking two days to put it together it wasn't so bad at all (although Zach might disagree since I dirtied nearly every pan/bowl/dish in the kitchen in the process). I did make a few minor substitutions, like using lime zest (3 for a dollar) instead of lemon ($1.25 each) and Nutella in place of the praline cream. Although Chris gave directions for making praline cream, it was one thing I didn't think my blender could handle and since the only item even resembling praline cream in the grocery store was marzipan I decided to use Nutella to flavor the buttercream since it's a least made with hazelnuts.

For the glaze, I added a tablespoon of lime juice to the apricot preserves instead of water since everything I had made up to that point (the cake, buttercream and whipped cream) was so rich, I thought they really needed a strong and slightly sour fruit flavor to balance them out. Once I had put together the cake with the cream fillings and the apricot glaze, I let it chill for a day before topping it with a rich bittersweet chocolate ganache and attempting to decorate it. I say attempting since you all can see the strange hydra-like creature that is inhabiting the top of my cake. In my defense, I will only say that I don't own any piping tips so it was all done with a ziploc bag with one of the corners cut off.

Well, after piping both the cake and I needed a bit of a break, so it spent another day in the fridge before we gave it a try. This is, by far, my favorite Daring Bakers challenge so far. The chocolate and hazelnut are really the dominant flavors in this cake but the citrus and apricot provide a background fruitiness that keep it from being boring. The jaconde stands up really well to the both the sugar syrup and the creams and remains moist without becoming mushy.

Will I make this cake again? I think so, but only after I get in a bit of practice with piping tips!

I haven't posted a recipe here since Chris's explains everything so well but I did halve the recipe so if you would like a copy of the halved recipe with my substitutions send me and email and I can send you a copy.

21 comments:

Chris said...

Great job Jen! Looks fantastic. Thanks for a great challenge. And, I welcome your emails any time! :)

Ann said...

Your cake looks great!

Veron said...

great job on your cake. I love the swirly decorations!

kat said...

your cake looks lovely. i know what you mean about being intimidated by long recipes, i printed this one & it was 7 pages! I guess I'll get used to that after a few more challenges

giz said...

Your cake is a winner - I love the learning with each recipe.

Isabelle said...

Your cake looks really delicious!!!
Congratulations! :)

amysingbaker said...

Beautiful! and made with Nutella?... wow, another version I will have to try someday! Great job!

Natalie... said...

Looks fantastic, I've got to agree with giz every challenge is a new learning process. I love DB!

katskitchen said...

Congrats on accomplishing this month's challenge! Looks great!

Kim said...

Looks good and great suggestion on the lime addition! I'll definitely need to try that.

JMom said...

You did a great job! I actually like the decoration :)

Kate said...

Jen your cake looks fantastic!! Great job, it's really beautiful!!

Katy said...

lovely! it was kind of similar to the opera cake -- except i used whipped cream to fill my opera cake layers, so i preferred this recipe by a lot. can't wait for next month!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks great and I really think your piping is great - better than what I could do any day! :)

Tartelette said...

Chris picked my brain to help you out with the praline part and I suggested you use almond or hazelnut butter with some honey but the Nutella must have made it wonderful! Your cake turned out fabulous!

Jen said...

Thanks everyone for your comments-- I really appreciate them.

Tartlette- my grocery store only had peanut and almond butters and I really wanted to keep the flavor consistent (and I happen to love Nutella) but I did get your suggestion through Chris so thank you for your help.

una donna dolce said...

Good idea with the lime. Did it help cut the sweetness?

Dee said...

I love Nutella so your cake sounds like a bit of heaven! And it's pretty even without the piping tips. Good job!

Lauren said...

Your cake looks wonderful!!

Jen said...

Donna- the lime did help to cut the sweetness but I wish I had put more glaze on the cake or maybe made little fork holes so the glaze could have sunk in a bit. My favorite part was the edge since it had extra glaze on it!

Thanks Dee and Lauren-

glamah16 said...

Forgive me for not commenting earlier! Great job. I didnt particpate but Im impressed by the effort that went into this.