This may come as a surprise…

When I started as a Daring Baker there were 5 of us. Ivonne and Lis of course because they are the founders. Then there was my less evil twin Helen. And crazy Brilynn. And me. We made Chocolate Biscotti from who else, Dorie Greenspan.
From there we grew to 7 of us where we learned not only could we make croissants but we could invent new swear words as well. Helen and I lucked out as we were the two who had already made them before. We had many a humorous exchange of emails.
There was the evil crepe cake that I hated more than life itself. The cake itself was a beauty and I knew why Brilynn picked it, but that is where the adoration stopped. For we made that cake in April 2007, and I have yet to make a crepe since! :(
When it was my pick I had us make a Strawberry Mirror Cake which was hit and miss depending on who’s blog you read. I personally loved it, but then again, I picked it.
Out of all the challenges I would have to say my favorite was the Yule Log. As it was something that I had done before but not all that often. And as far as flavor wise, my favorite was the perfect party cake…but I always have been a softy for buttercream frosting. ;)
What is my point of reminiscing you ask? Well, ladies and gentleman, this may come as a shock to you, but this challenge will be my last as a Daring Baker. It’s simply gotten to large for my liking. When I started I went around to every blog to see what people did. As we grew I still did this. I even had a check list to make sure I got everyone. I printed it out each month with the list getting longer and longer, when finally at 500 I stopped. Just a little too many for me. I used to know every Daring Baker there was on the block. Now, not so much. I still love the idea of the group. I am sure I will be jealous seeing everyone’s creations each month but it puts a little pressure off my time clock and pocketbook to bow out. This wasn’t an easy decision, in fact I even cried while writing the post. It’s just time for me to move on.
I want to give special thanks to Lis and Ivonne for making such a great group, I wish the group much continued success!!!

This is a good one for me to go out on. It was of course low-fat :P . It uses enough butter and eggs to make your heart send you an evil note. But oh how it is tasty. Then again, it has buttercream and I do love the buttercream. The only problem was that this cake is not a good summer cake. The layer plus heat equals lots of slipping and sliding. Luckily mine was nice and held together.
So thanks to Chris of Mele Cotte for picking a great challenge for me to go out on.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 ¢â¬â€œ 110 degrees)

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¢â¬â„¢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¢â¬â„¢t any large pieces, don¢â¬â„¢t over-process.  Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar.  It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step.  When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.  Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind.  Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute. 
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter 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 ¢â¬â€œ working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time ¢â¬â€œ folding it carefully for about 40 folds.   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 butter over the batter.  Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.  **If collected butter 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¢â¬â„¢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.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake ¢â¬â€œ split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ 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.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved.  The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue ¢â¬â€œ about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.  Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My  buttercream won¢â¬â„¢t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn¢â¬â„¢t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl¢â¬â€œ making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed  butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ 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 ¢â¬â€œ 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.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot 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.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm ¢â¬â€œ great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm ¢â¬â€œ semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled ¢â¬â€œ can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid ¢â¬â€œ the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 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 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 ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn¢â¬â„¢t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn¢â¬â„¢t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. 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 ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake.  Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. 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 apricot 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, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake¢â¬â„¢s center.  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. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 ¢â¬â€œ 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream.  Stating ½ 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 ¾ 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 filbert garnish. 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.


  1. Your DB contributions will certainly be missed. I understand why you want to leave, though. I thought about joining, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to be a very supportive DB with all the posts to check. I’ll be keeping a watch on all your non-DB concoctions!

  2. Sad, but understandable! It’s not like you won’t still wow us with tasty goodness, though! :P

  3. Your cake is absolutely beautiful! I’m sure with the extra time on your hands we are all in for real treats!

  4. I’m really sorry to see you leave the group. I also get your reasons so no judgement at all. I know you’ll still be doing the circuit – once it’s in the blood, it’s hard to get rid of.

  5. I had to sit out this challenge but I thought you might want to know another DB and I decided to do your first challenge ever, the biscotti, loved the recipe!

    I don’t blame you for getting out. It’s been a bit overwhelming for my taste also. I’m going to try to keep at it though.

  6. Oh no, Peabody, your Daring Baker posts will be sorely missed! Although I have to admit that your announcement did shock me a bit, I do understand your reasons… No matter what you decide to do, I’m certain that your posts will never disappoint. I always look forward to your creations, and perhaps leaving the group will give you a bit more space to breathe and let out your creativity. :)

  7. It’s a shame that as a founding member of the DB you’re not continuing – but I do understand where yuo are coming from. There were about 200 when i joined so even getting round all the blogs then was very difficult! Your blog is still one of my favourites! :0)

  8. Surprised…no. Sad…yes. It was good to have you among the “seniors”. I understand your point and will miss your reveal posts.

  9. I am such a coward – I wasn’t an original but I was an early member – and I bowed out a few months ago without telling anyone. I had other issues with it mostly having to do with time – but the size is definitely daunting! Will miss checking in with you to see what the DBs are up to!

  10. It has been a long haul, baking with you, starting with those yummy croissants, but I think I understand. I used to copy over the blogroll into a word document and then change the color of the blog once I’d read it. I was still reading every one for a long time, but now barely know who people are in the DB anymore. Oh how I miss us being small!
    And just so you know, you were a daily read of mine before we became DB’ers together, and you are going to remain a daily read of mine – you can’t get rid of me that easily! =P

  11. I’m sorry you’ve found that the group is too big…but it has opened up to many bakers who otherwise would have been a bit on their own (like me! this is only my 5th challenge!). I’m sure you’ll be missed!

  12. I can honestly say I can see why you have to move on, you have so many wonderful things going on. I’ll miss your DB posts, but of course I’ll still be back here all the time! Your cake looks gorgeous!

  13. I get it. I’ll still read your blog of course, it wasn’t really the daring bakers that made you interesting, it was just you.

  14. Well, what to say? You and Brillyn were the reason I ‘found’ the DBs, went through Martha’s revenge with you and the early DBs,completely understand the sense of too big…and then I read the first DB post of a new member at amyzingbaker. Such enthusiasm is contagious.
    Yours will STILL be the first blog I go to when I visit blogs, especially if time is limited…but challenge post day will not be the same without the anticipation of seeing what you’ve done with the recipe. Maybe you’ll change your mind…who knows? Girls have that right :)

  15. I’m sorry you won’t be a Daring Baker anymore. I will miss seeing your posts on posting day. I still want to make the Strawberry Mirror Cake that you chose last year. Your gateau looks beautiful- you went out on a great one.

  16. It is hard to think of the daring bakers and not have you in it.; o )

  17. Well, that does look delicious. I can’t imagine how many dirty dishes you made while creating it.

  18. Very sad to hear that you’re leaving the DB group, but if it means more time to pursue your other things, then so be it. Beautiful cake, by the way!

  19. Sorry you’re leaving the DBers, but I will still be by to check out all the other delicious nibblies you will create. You never know when I may show up with a cheesecake in hand! :)

  20. Well, we will definitely miss you. However, I have this small feeling ;-) that you will continue baking fantastic things…things I would HAVE to be challenged to make! I can’t wait to see what else you’ve come up with.

  21. Aww, Pea!! The strawberry mirror cake was my first challenge.

    You’ll be missed…but I understand what you mean…the group has got too big indeed. The only reason i’m sticking to it is because of the recipes, which force me to go beyond my comfort zone.

    Take care…will still keep visiting :-)

  22. Your cake looks delightful and delicious. I understand what you mean about it not being a summer cake – I felt exactly the same way. I wanted something light with fruit, not more buttercream. The DBers have lost a valuable member for sure!

  23. We’re going to miss you Gracie! :)

    Your cake is gorgeous, as I knew it would be!

    Oh hell, who am I kidding.. I won’t miss you.. I’m here every other day and we chat in email! So I always get my Gracie fixes. :D


  24. I hear you, on the size of the group, I toss around the idea every time as well. I came in at the Strawberry Mirror cake and enjoyed the intimate group, it was easy to see everyone’s challenge, everyone did it with grace and excitement and there was not a whole lot of bitching! I will definitely miss seeing your DB challenges, you are always at the top of the group in my book. Hope to still see you at TWD!


  25. You’ve gone out on a high, your cake is beautiful!

  26. nooooooooooo~!!!! I always look forward to checking out your perfect creations every month. YOu will truly be missed…

  27. Oh Peabody, sorry to hear this will be your last post as a DB. But I don’t blame you. I sat out this challenge and have been thinking about whether or not to continue as a DB. You definitely went out with a delicious bang! :)

  28. Oh sorry to hear this but I will still be popping by to visit you. Your cake looks delicious.

  29. Wow, you will be missed! But I will still visit your blog regularly to see your great ideas.

  30. Peabody – I totally understand the agony of deciding the leave the group. It was the same for me but the relief I felt without the pressure of the commitment and the lack of time to read other blogger’s posts indicated it was the right decision. I’m sure you’ll feel that way too. I’ve decided I’m sticking to more one off type challenges such as HHDD.

    Your strawberry mirror cake was one of the outstanding successes of my participation in the DBs and people at work still talk about it.

    I love the look of your latest creation – beautifully presented as always. Did you save me a piece?

  31. Whoa! You did an amazing job and while I am sure it was such a difficult decision, you are right about making a fantastic cake to bow out on at this time. Not to worry, you are one of the best!!!!

  32. Peabody – I am so sad you’re leaving us! You always have one of my favorite takes on that month’s challenge!

  33. As always, this looks perfect, Peabody. I’ll be the selfish one who says I’m not too sad you are leaving DB – because I’m hoping it means I’ll get an additional, different recipe from you each month which makes me happy :)

  34. Wow… I had never thought of the starts of Daring Baker when there weren’t… ehrr… 500 members! And how sweet of you to make a list and print it to be sure you checked everybodies challenge.
    I’ll miss checking your blog each month for the DB challenge, but I guess it’s the best for you :).
    And the cake looks great!

  35. You will be missed! Big kiss!

  36. The cake is gorgeous! I admire all you Daring Bakers b/c I just don’t think I could do it! I’ve enjoyed all your DB entries – thanks for sharing with those of us who live vicariously through those more talented! :)

  37. I’m sorry you’re leaving but I understand. The growing group changes the dynamics.

  38. i never imagined this group would one day become so gigantic. Its amazing and nice to know that so many people have dared to bake !!! Your cake looks gorgeous and i’m sure your group will miss you .

  39. Hi Peabody! Long time, no visit!

    Your cake is lovely, and I completely understand what you’re going through. I’ve been in DB a year now, and it was just about manageable then. Since…well, I, too, have considered dropping out. It’s HUGE. There’s no way anyone can realistically visit every blog, is there? Not if they have anything resembling a life, that is.

    Sad to see you leave, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you were one of many…

  40. Gorgeous cake!! I will miss you in the DB blogroll but of course will continue visiting you regularly – you’re so inspiring as a baker and I love your voice in your posts!

  41. Pea, I can totally understand that decision. I gave up long ago, as a blog reader, trying to keep up with the DB postings. And I love them and avidly look for the posts!!! I still only keep up with the few originals. Not enough time in life to try and look at more. You will be missed amongst them, but I will keep visiting to see your gorgeous and inspiring blog! Hugs, Colleen xx

  42. Aww Pea I’m so sorry to see you go! Your Mirror cake was the reason I joined in the first place! When I saw that cake I thought “that’s something I’d have never made unless I had to” so I joined the DB’r to make myself try new things. You’ll be missed for sure!!
    Well I look forward to seeing what you create now that you’ll have all this free time;)
    Love your cake btw. It’s beautiful!!

  43. Well poo on you! :P I always look forward to your DB’er posts… But its OK… you do plenty of posts to keep your blog stalkers happy!

  44. Well, you have managed to screw up my routine. See I do my challenge and then I check yours to see how close I get to what it’s supposed to look like. I’ll live though. :) Especially if you keep posting all your other luscious creations!
    I wish I could look at everyone’s post, but there’s just too much.

  45. I came in at about the 200 people mark. It was the mirror cake that caught my eye at the beginning (for me). I love being a DB but I dont go to everyones site. It’s impossible!
    I have my favorites which included you, and I find a few new ones occasionally. This was my first challenge I bowed out of.
    You will be missed but at least you didnt say your quitting blogging. Now that would be horrible!

  46. Oh no! You are #5 of 1000 and some. Thats amazing. Even if you don’t participate any longer, I hope that you still are part of the group in spirit if nothing else. Maybe you’ll make your own group? Or via an alias, create a new something. I don’t know, I’m a bit shaken up.

    Anyways, I wish you well regardless of your decision, making it this far is pretty huge! And, your cake looks wonderful. Truly beautiful.

  47. sorry to see you go :( i believe it was through your blog that i learned of the daring bakers, when i first saw the mirror cake….

    you’re an extraordinary baker and i guess you don’t really need to be part of the daring bakers to be considered a ‘daring baker’ :)

    your cake is beautiful, looks like you included some chocolate between the layers too? great idea.

  48. Aww Peabody I’m gonna miss you! You’ll always be a daring baker. :)

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