Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers July: You Mean I Can't Have Cake for Dinner?

This Pistachio Gateau with Praline Buttercream has a power. The Power of Magnetic Deliciousness. I took my time this past weekend preparing it - and didn't cut into it until Monday night with friends. But yesterday? I spent almost my entire Tuesday thinking about this cake. I wanted to have it for dinner. And then again for dessert. Forking a bite was the first thing I did when I got home. (This obsession is starting to sound a little weird, isn't it?) I am not alone, however. A bite of cake was also on my husband's short list upon arriving home - I got a smooch and then off he went to the cake. At least he got it in the right order. ;)

I started this challenge this past Saturday night with the cake. I only have 8-inch cake pans, so I opted to use my 9-inch springform pan instead. The Daring Bakers that braved this challenge earlier in the month suggested using a round of parchment paper in the bottom, so I thought that the springform action would be an added help. I used pistachios instead of hazelnuts (the hazels were twice the cost for half the amount of shelled pistachios at the store - and I want to marry pistachios.) I was more than a little nervous that the cake wouldn't turn out - because the way the instructions read, it seems to indicate that we are to mix the nut flour into the butter - when it really means to fold it directly into the batter... so I ended up trying to delicately fold in the dense buttery nut meal into my light and fluffy egg mixture... A moment of panic, indeed, but it worked out in the end - the genoise seemed no worse for wear and baked up nicely. Cooled and wrapped up, it spend the night in the fridge.

Sunday afternoon, I started with the praline - pistachio, of course. Such a simple combination of sugar and nuts created a most delicious brittle. (I even made a second batch to snack on!!) While it cooled, I prepared the buttercream (with its three sticks of butter!!!) I was lucky in that it came together easily for me - I've read countless horror stories of failed buttercreams... I made sure to have extra of everything, just in case. Layering the cake was a little of a catastrophe, because I mangled the middle one - the center of the cake is mostly crumbly bits... I figured if I doused it with enough of the sugar syrup, it would just bond together, right? I'd like to think that worked - and if I slice the cake when it is still cold, it mostly stays put... but whatever - it all tastes the same, crumbly or not! :)

Final assembly: glaze, ganache, garnish. I am a big fan of glazing before ganache-ing. It acts like something of a crumb coat, allowing the chocolate to flow a little easier - which is terrific. I don't often ganache a cake, and I'm starting to wonder why. I find it remarkably easier than icing a cake, and it looks so spectacular in the end, too. Consider me a convert. I have also never ever not once used a piping bag and tips to decorate a cake. I own a set, yes, but I'd never used it. I picked a basic star tip and as you can see, went with a basic dot pattern. If this has been any other cake (not a challenge) and if it was only Dave and I eating it (instead of having friends over), I might have been a little more bold... but I didn't want it to be a major flop. I also prefer spare simplicity, so I was happy with the result. I considered using some of the second batch of brittle as garnish, but didn't want the hardness of it to detract from the cake itself. Texture issues and all that. Into the fridge to wait for Monday night.

Soon enough, it was time to have some cake! I boldly cut us all giant pieces and we all dug in. I don't think a single one of us finished our slice. Smaller is certainly better. This cake is rich rich rich and a little goes a long way. A long way I'm happy to take for breakfast, lunch or dinner! The buttercream is by far my favorite part. I really enjoyed the flecks of nut/crunch in it and it provided just the right amount of both. The cake was moist and light. I can't sing the praises far or wide enough for this cake. I am considering buying the book it is from: Great Cakes by Carole Walters - because if this recipe is any indication, I will love trying the rest!

I really enjoyed making this cake - all eleventy billing elements. I gleefully whipped, frothed, caramelized and folded every last bit. I skipped off with tastings of every stage for Dave and my excitement grew with each accomplished step. Not only that, but I never felt overwhelmed by this challenge - which is new for me. Yes, there were a lot of moving parts - and some of them were new - but I felt like, if I just followed them in order, took them as an individual piece and not a giant behemoth of a cake, I could do it. I did, and I loved it.

Thanks to the lovely Chris at Mele Cotte for a delicious challenge. Head on over to her post for the recipe and then pop over to the Daring Bakers Blogroll for more inspiration!

19 comments:

Bridget said...

I love how green it is from the pistachios! So pretty.

Lore said...

Great job! I only wish I can have it for breakfast too ;)

Courtney said...

i think i could eat this cake all the time also!

Dayna said...

My first guess was pistachios.
What a colour.

Hannah said...

What, you mean it isn't meal-material? I convinced myself that it was a great source of protein from all the nuts and ate it for breakfast! ;)

Laura said...

Your cake looks great! Great job being adventurous and trying to add a different type of nuts!

Y said...

That definitely looks like a lovely cake to come home too! :D

kellypea said...

I absolutely LOVE the color of that cake. Unbelievable. I'm always surprised when pistachios create that intensity. And you are so right about the directions and the nuts. I had trouble figuring that part out! And that cake is perfect for breakfast. YUM.

Lina said...

your cake looks yummy! I love pistachios but I used almonds instead. I want a bite of yours!

Dharm said...

Your cake looks simply fabulous! Great job!

Grace said...

i'm pretty sure the praline buttercream would be my favorite part, too.
and of course you can have this cake for dinner! justification: pistachios have protein and good fats. so there. :)

linda said...

You did a great job! Love that you used pistachio's. And the simplicity of the decoration is just elegant.
I loved the buttercream a lot too :)

Deborah said...

I love the sound of pistachios! If I would have made the whole thing instead of a mini, I would have switched out the nuts - even for the mini it cost me a small fortune! Your cake looks wonderful, and it's so good that you enjoyed it so much!

Ruth said...

Great cake!!! Looks fantastic. The ganache looks great

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Great job! I'm sure it tasted wonderful with pistachios!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I just love ganache too and I agree, I really need to use it more. I did hazelnut and pistachio, I bet your all pistachio was wonderful! it looks great Katie!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

If I were to make this cake again, i would defenetly try it with pistachios! Very nicely done!

Stephanie said...

Nice job on the cake!

It was so good, my nut-loathing five year old (who was not told it was made with hazelnuts) ate a rather large piece, then proceeded to tell me I needed to make it again. Preferably twice; one a normal size, and another giant one for him!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks amazing, and I love the pistachios!