Wednesday, July 30, 2008


July's Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Chris. The recipies came from Carole Walter's book Great Cakes. The cake was delicous, my husband devoured it!!

As a professional pastry chef I buy already skinned hazelnuts, hazelnut flour, and praline paste ready to use, but as a DARING BAKER I wanted to make this cake like everyone else "the hard way"!! So here is my procedure:

First of all a filbert is a hazelnut and you need to skin those babies!! This is not an easy task, it is time consuming, but someone has to do it to make this cake.

Take a pound of hazelnuts and roast them in the oven at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes. Take them out of the oven and put them in a clean towel. Roll them back and forth to rub as much of the skins off as you can. Mine did not come off well so I took 1 1/2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda and brought it to a boil. I threw the roasted hazelnuts into it and boiled them for one minute. Drain and rinse them, then back into the towel and rub rub rub until all the skins come off. Some of the skin will still have to be rubbed of by hand. Put them back into the oven at 275 degrees for another 10 minutes to dry out. Let them cool completely before using. WooHoo your ready to make your cake.

The bowl of hazelnuts on the left are the ones I rubbed the skins off of right out of the oven. Out of a pound of them that was my yield. The bowl on the right are the hazelnuts I boiled in the baking soda water and then roasted. This procedure was much faster and less time consuming.

For the Filbert Genoise
1 1/2 Cups Hazelnuts (toasted & skinned) (If using hazelnut flour you will need 2 1/3 Cups minus 1 Tablespoon of it)
2/3 Cup Cake Flour (unsifted)
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
7 Large Egg Yolks
1 Cup Sugar (divided 1/4 & 3/4 Cups
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest (grated)
5 Large Egg Whites
1/4 Cup Warm Clarified Butter (100-110 degrees)

Grease, flour and line with parchment paper a 9" round cake pan. Set aside.

In a food processor, process the nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch until you have a fine powder. Pass this mixture through a tripple mesh strainer and toss any large pieces of nuts. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer and using the whip attachment whip for 3 - 4 minutes. Rub the lemon zest into the 3/4 cup of sugar and slowly add this sugar, one tablespoon at a time, taking 3 minutes for this step. Add the vanilla and continue to whip until the mixture makes a ribbon.

Put the egg whites in another bowl and with the whisk attachment beat on medium speed to soft peaks. Increase to medium high and slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar taking 15 - 20 seconds. Continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Add the yolk mixture and whisk for 1 minute.

Start folding by hand with a spatula the sifted nut mixture into the yolk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Be careful with your folding so as not to deflate the mixture. Once you have all the nut flour folded in take out 1/2 cup of it and mix it with the clarified butter. Fold the butter mixture into the batter and immediately turn it out in the prepared 9" cake pan.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.

Let it cool for 5 minutes then invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

Sugar Syrup
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Chambord Liquor

In a small saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liquor. Let cool to room temperature before brushing onto the cake layers.

Praline Paste
1 Cup Hazelnuts (skinned and toasted)
2/3 Cup Sugar

Put the sugar in a heavy 10" skillet. Heat on low flame until the sugar melts and turns caramel in color. Do not stir the mixture. Wash down sugar crystals if they form. Swirl the pan to achieve even caramelization. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and stir until the mixture bubbles and the nuts are evenly coated with the caramel. Turn out onto a silpat or lightly greased parchment paper. Let the mixture cool completely then break up into pieces. Put the pieces in a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes a paste. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Swiss Buttercream
4 Large Egg Whites
3/4 Cup Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 Cups (12 Ounces) Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Place the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the 5 qt bowl of a stand mixer. Put the bowl over a bain marie and then heat the mixture to 141 degrees. Put the bowl on the mixer and with the whisk attachment beat it at high speed until it is thick and cool. It will look like whipped marshmallows.

Place the butter and vanilla in another bowl and with the paddle attachment cream the butter.

With the mixer on low speed slowly add the butter mixture to the egg white mixture. When all the butter has been incorporated turn the speed to high and beat for one minute.

Praline Buttercream
1 Recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 Cup Praline Paste

Blend 1/2 Cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on medium speed to combine.

Red Currant & Raspberry Jelly

Abour 4 Tablespoons
Or any other jam or jelly of your choice.

Ganache Glaze

6 Ounces Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate (good quality)
6 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Tablespon Light Corn Syrup

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl. Bring to a boil the cream and corn syrup. Pour over chocolate. Let sit for one minute then stir with a whisk to mix and melt all the chocolate. Stir gently so as not to create any air bubbles. Set aside to cool to 90 degrees F before glazing the cake.

Assembling the Cake
Divide the cake into 3 layers. Put the bottom layer on a cake circle and brush it with the Chambord Sugar Syrup. Spread on a thin layer of the red currant & raspberry jelly. Spread on a 3/8" thick layer of praline buttercream. Continue with the next layer in the same manner and the final layer of cake just brush with the syrup. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to harden the buttercream.

Take the cake out of the refrigerator and trim the sides of the cake to make the sides as straight as possible. Frost with a thin layer of praline buttercream. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill the cake at least 30 minutes.

Put the cake on a glazing rack and pour the 90 degree F ganache over it making sure the sides are completely covered. Let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before decorating.

I decorated mine with a #104 rose tip.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


This man has been my friend and mentor for 9 years. We worked together 12 hours a day 6 days a week and shared so much over this time. I was looking forward to working with him for the rest of my career. We talked many times about how we would be friends forever even after we retired. But he passed away yesterday and I am saddened from the bottom of my heart. He was a great executive chef and a very special man. My heart goes out to his wife, all of his brothers and the rest of their family. I will miss him so much. I love you Bob!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


No, I didn't get to meet Francois Payard but I did get to go to his new pastry shop at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

I bought some Red Currant & Raspberry Jelly and some Macarons and we ate breakfast at his restaurant which is next door to the pastry shop.

In the center of the dining room, which only has about 20 tables, is the cook above and his ovens and grill etc. where he makes your breakfast. Beautiful breads and pastries are displayed here as well as in the shop. Gellato too!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


My husband buys Cobblestones from Panera Bakery quite frequently. When he brings them home I tell him they are very similar to monkey bread. What is monkey bread he asks? So today I made it while he was at work.

This recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook.

2 Large Eggs
Warm Water (to make 2 cups)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Cup Non-fat Dry Milk
2 Ounces Unsalted Butter (softened)
5 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (may need a little more depending on humidity)
1 Tablespoon Salt

1 Cup Golden Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
4 Ounces Butter
1/2 Cup Raisins
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt

To Make the Dough
Break the eggs into a two cup measure and add enough hot water to make two cups. Pour into the mixing bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer and whisk. Add 1 Tablespoon of the brown sugar and whisk to dissolve. Add the yeast and whisk to dissolve. Whisk in the dry milk, the remaining brown sugar, and the butter.

Put the bowl onto the mixer and attach the paddle attachment. Add one cup of the flour and mix to combine. Add another cup of flour and the salt and mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook and continue adding flour 1 cup at a time until you have 5 cups added. Knead with the dough hook about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle some of the remaining flour onto the work counter and turn the dough out onto it. Knead by hand, only adding flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and silky. Put into a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Meanwhile, grease or spray a tube pan or bundt pan. Set aside.

To Make the Glaze
Put the Butter, Cinnamon, Salt, Raisins, Brown Sugar, and Maple Syrup into a saucepan. Over low heat cook and stir constantly to melt the butter and combine the ingredients. (You do not want to melt the sugar.) Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

When the dough has doubled punch it down. Cut off 1 inch pieces and roll into round balls. Dip into the glaze mixture and put into the prepared pan. If there is any leftover glaze pour it over the monkey bread. Cover the pan with plastic and let rise about an hour.

Bake the bread at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then turn down the heat to 325 and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn out onto a platter.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I had some over ripe bananas that were smelling so sweet I decided to make banana bread. This is a staple at work as we always have extra ripe bananas on hand and to help with the food cost I make as many items as I can out of them. I am at home now for the summer so this banana bread is just for my husband and myself. Yum, I can't wait until it cools off.

4 ounces Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/4 Cups Mashed Ripe Bananas
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Walnuts
Cream together sugar and butter in a 5 quart mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift all dry ingredients together. Mix buttermilk and banana together, add alternately with dry ingredients. Stir in walnuts.
Put into paper lined loaf pan and bake at 350 deg. About 1 hour.