July's Daring Baker challenge was a doozy. It was a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. The host for this month was Chris of Mele Cotte .
The cake is an almond genoise with a rum syrup, praline buttercream, a layer of raspberry preserves and topped with chocolate ganache. I feel that I am a pretty decent baker, but from the get go I had problems. The first challenge for me was switching from hazelnuts to almonds since I have a food allergy to hazelnuts. As I read the recipe I saw that I needed to have my almonds skinned and toasted. The almonds I had in the house were raw, so I decided to skin them by pouring boiling water on the almonds and then popping off the skins. I then dried and toasted them in the oven. This was my big tactical error. When I blanched the almonds I only did it for 3 minutes, but doing that changed the texture of the almond. I put them to dry in the oven, but could not seem to get them to toast up. Maybe due to my impatience or to the fact that I waited to the last day to due the challenge. Either way this seemed to be where my problems started. When I went to grind up the almonds, I couldn't get them fine enough due to some of them being not toasted. From there on I went decidedly down hill. I didn't clarify the butter and I didn't put all the almond/flour mixture through the sieve. So my cake turned out bumpy and didn't really taste like almonds.
The Swiss buttercream was also a challenge. As I was beating away on the buttercream, it started to look like a curdled mess. At this point I turned off my mixer and checked with the Daring Bakers. Thank goodness for all you DBer's. I read the thread about buttercream and took the DBer's advice. I went back and turned on my Kitchen Aid mixer and walked away. When I came back it came together nicely. Finally success! The rest of the recipe seemed to go well. The praline buttercream turned out nicely and I used raspberry preserves instead of apricot. I loved the raspberry and chocolate flavors together. Overall, I learned a lot. I learned not to be in such a hurry when baking and to buy blanched almonds next time.