My very first step was waiting for my hazelnuts to arrive, via an order through E-bay (they really do have everything). I didn't order them as early as I should have, and they took awhile to get to me (according to package tracking, the hazelnuts had an extended stay in Chicago....) so it pushed my timetable for baking a little closer to the end of the month....which made me nervous.
The first interesting moment for me was with the cake. I baked mine in an 8-1/2 by 1-1/2 pan, but realized when I had most of the batter in the pan that perhaps I should have opted for something a little larger. I was so freaked out about the batter that in my panic, I reached for a loaf pan and dumped the excess in there. So then I had a round cake, and a rectangle cake. Now, I had the foresight to flour and line the round pan, but the loaf pan had been a moment of desperation, so when I tried to remove the hazelnut loaf, it wouldn't come out. Too make an already long story short....I ended up accidentally dropping the loaf cake in the sink. That should have been a sign for me. I did end up with a round cake, but the middle seemed a little less then satisfactory (stupid oven).
By the way, if you drop a measuring spoon in the mixing bowl while it's running, it will eventually spin back out. It is a little messy though.
I don't know if any of you had trouble when you went to make your hazelnut praline, but for some reason, I am unable to melt sugar. I used two different pans, and lots of time (and a little patience), but I never could get my sugar to melt nice and slow like the recipe said. I ended up cranking up the heat considerably, but then instead of melting on the outside first and then the middle, mine melted in the middle first, but not on the outside. I, of course, stirred. Don't stir. It is not pretty. The hazelnuts did find their way in and were coated, and it did make a brittle in the end.
Assembling the cake was a hoot as the cake was not very tall. The top layer was the nicest because it actually came off in a nice coherent pieces. The middle and bottom layers were not so nice. My praline buttercream ended up becoming a "glue" that conveniently helped to shape and hold these layers of cake together.
I loved making the Ganache. It was the best part of the recipe, and something I will definitely try again. This was my first time working with this kind of technique, and I loved the way it looked and tasted. My form is very sloppy, so the top of the cake looked nice, but the sides, well at least they taste good.
I topped the cake with lots of hazelnuts. Eating a slice is like eating pure sugar....which is a bit much for me. It reminds me of the fancy cakes you see in the expensive bakeries that cost lots of $$$ and you only get a very tiny sliver. Well, there is a reason that the sliver is so tiny. If you ate anything larger you might enter a sugar induced coma!
I enjoyed making the cake and learning the processes, but I think I will be more apt to make last months Danish Braid again before I would attempt this dessert.
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