This month I did not procrastinate on my Daring Bakers challenge.
I actually had an occasion early on in the month to make this fancy pants cake for friends, who all gave this recipe their very enthusiastic two thumbs up. Finally – I can swipe my hand across my forehead in happy relief that I was not rushing at the last minute to make a veganized version of a ridiculously complicated and dairy-laden dessert.
This recipe was originally a filbert gateau but, as usual, I wanted to put a tropical spin on the challenge so I replaced the hazelnuts and cointreau with macadamia nuts and coconut rum. The makeover was a success: the result was a cake that would fit right in at the luau!
This cake has lots of steps, but it can be done in one prolonged baking session. I promise you: the praline buttercream alone is reason enough to make this cake.
Thank you to Mele Cotte for hosting this month’s challenge!
Macadamia Nut Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
1 Macadamia Nut Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Strawberry Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
12 whole macadmia nuts
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 1⁄2 cups macadamia nuts, toasted
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 tbsp canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon rind
¾ cup vanilla soy yogurt
1⁄4 cup warm Earth Balance
Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.
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.
Use a hand mixer to mix together the canola oil, sugar, vanilla, lemon rind, and soy yogurt until well blended.
Pour the warm EB 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 and fold it in. 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 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm EB over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected EB 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.
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake
1 cup water
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. 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.
1 recipe Buttercream (I used the Fluffy Vegan Butercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
1/3 cup praline paste
1 1⁄2 – 2 Tbsp Malibu coconut rum
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.
1 cup (4 1⁄2 oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
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 min 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.
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick straewberry 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.
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
6 oz. (3⁄4 cup coconut cream (place a can of whole fat coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Skim off the cream and save the water for another use)
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Malibu coconut rum
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 coconut 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 1⁄2 – 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!
Divide the cake into 2 layers and place the first layer top-side down on your serving plate. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. 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. Place the second layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich 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 strawberry 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, spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake. 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. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.
To garnish the cake, use a pastry bag to pipe the remaining buttercream onto the cake. Starting 1⁄2 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 3⁄4 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 macadamia nut garnish. Place one macadamia nut between each row of frosting along the cake’s edge. 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.