After months of drooling over other people's Daring Bakers challenges, I decided last month that it was time for me to join this amazing baking group. If you're not familiar, this is a group of food bloggers who bake a challenging recipe once a month, and then all post them on the same day. I've seen them make pastries, cakes, and breads, and I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for me to bake more in my own kitchen.
Testing out my new piping kit.
The first challenge was a rich, nutty layer cake, and it had six different components that came together in the final cake. It was a challenge, but I learned a lot as I put together my masterpiece. I had a chance to try piping, which was a lot of fun. I didn't have any real skills to show off, but I enjoyed playing around with the different tips to see what I could design. I made a ganache for the first time. And, most important to me, I managed to make a cake with three layers that looked pretty darn decent.
I had trouble getting the sugar to melt for my praline paste, so I had to leave that out of the icing. I did add ground up hazelnuts, though, to keep that flavor going throughout the cake. I used dark rum where ever liquor was called for, and I made a different buttercream recipe after reading about other bakers' struggles with the Swiss Buttercream.
I did what Chris, the host, suggested, and made buttercream with 12 oz softened cream cheese, 2 sticks softened butter, about 4 cups of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Once it was blended smoothly, I added about 4 Tbsp of ground hazelnuts.
Some Daring Bakers complained about having to make yet another layered cake with buttercream, but as this was my first challenge I did not have a problem with the chosen recipe. I had a lot of fun putting this cake together! My only complaint-- I only made this for us to eat at home, when I should have planned a reason to share it with others!
For the original recipe, check Chris's blog here.
To see what other Daring Bakers did with the recipe, click here.