Sunday, January 9, 2011

SMS Hazelnut Raspberry Layer Cake

My turn to host Sweet Melissa Sundays! I was so excited and had my recipe picked out months and months ago. I kept my fingers crossed that none of the other bakers would take my selection. Then when it was time to pick, I picked something else! My only logic - this was the only 'fancy' cake we hadn't made.

I began second guessing this decision when I went to pick up raspberries - in January. I didn't have any trouble finding them, and they actually were pretty sweet, but they were also pretty pricey. Second guessing and kicking of self continued when I read the recipe and realized that this was one of Melissa's recipes that calls for fifteen eggs and five sticks of butter. Not exactly what most people are eating at the start of the year. I really began to question my choice, and sanity, when I read further and realized this recipe includes buttercream frosting. I really don't like buttercream - too buttery. Not only is a buttercream, but it is the Italian meringue buttercream I have successfully avoided making in previous recipes.

Thoughts of not following the recipe or making modifications kept popping in my head but I felt I should follow the recipe as closely as possible since I picked it and am hosting this week. The cake is a variation on the nut flour/meringue that we have made a couple of times before. The frosting wasn't difficult either but it did not turn me into a buttercream fan. I was excited about pink frosting (I am such a girl) but wasn't expecting to use the whole raspberries. I did chicken out on making a split layer cake because honestly, I would have cried if I had gotten to that point and the cake fell apart on me.

With the cake made, I was a little skeptical because of the consistency of the frosting and the pieces of raspberry. I ate a slice and was underwhelmed. And disappointed. The kind of odd, kind of pretty cake sat under my beautiful new cake dome for a day untouched. Then, I decided I would try it again and determine if I should take it to work with me. The second piece was much better. I like the nutty flavor in the cake and the hazelnut/raspberry combo works well together. I still was a bit put off by the texture of the frosting but started thinking maybe my last minute choice wasn't so bad.

I don't think I would ever make this again. I like the cake, but think the texture is a bit heavy. I also like the idea of raspberry frosting and think I will play around with a cream cheese version where the raspberries are cooked down and then strained. I'd like to get the lovely pink color and flavor without the chunkiness of the fruit.

Thanks for baking along with me! I am anxious to see how this recipe turns out for my fellow bakers. You can see their creations here!

Hazelnut Raspberry Layer Cake
The Sweet Melissa Baking Book - Melissa Murphy

For the Cake

1 2/3 cups hazelnuts or filberts, toasted and cooled
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 large egg whites, at room temperature

For the Raspberry Buttercream

1 cup loosely packed fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups seedless raspberry preserves, for filling
2 cups fresh raspberries, for garnish

Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the ovent to 350 F. Butter and flour two 9 x 2-inch cake pans. Line each pan with a 9-inch round of parchment paper.

To make the cake:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the hazelnuts with 2/3 cup of the sugar and pulse grind until it is a coarse flour.

2. Transfer the hazelnut flour to a large bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, an additional 2/3 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder, and whisk to combine.

3. Have ready a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat. (The butter will melt first, and then the milk solids ill settle to the bottom. After a little while, the milk solids will start to turn golden.) When the milk solids have reached a nutty brown color, immediately remove from the heat. Using the fine-meshed strainer, strain the butter into the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Discard the butter solids. Stir in the vanilla.

4. In the very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the very clean whip attachmetn, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks, In a slow steady stream, with the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 2/3 cup of the sugar. Increase the speed to high. Beat until there are firm - not dry- glossy peaks of meringue.

5. Using a rubber spatula, briskly fold one-third of the meringue into the batter to lighten it. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold in until just combined.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spin the pans or use an offset spatula to level the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto the rack. Cool completely before filling or frosting.

The baked layers may be stored tightly wrapped at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks. Do not unwrap before thawing.

To make the buttercream:

1. In a small bowl, combine the fresh raspberries with the raspberry liqueur.

2. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the 2/3 cup of sugar and the water and cooke to 240 F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the 3 tablespoons sugar and beat until there are medium stiff - but not dry - peaks of meringue.

4. When the sugar syrup reaches 240 F, decrease the speed of the mixer to medium, and immediately but slowly pour the hot liquid sugar in a steady stream down the side of the bowl and into the meringue. (Or, if the syrup is not yet 240 F when the meringue is ready, turn off the mixer until it is. Then turn the mixer to medium and add the syrup.) Beat together until stiff glossy peaks form.

5. With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter in pieces to the meringue. The mixture will break, but just keep beating and it will come together beautifully.

6. Pour the raspberries and the raspberry liquid into the buttercream and beat on medium-high speed until combined.

If using the buttercream immediately, set aside at room temperature. If not, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. If the buttercream has been chilled, let it reach room temperature before beating it with the electric mixer. The buttercream will break, but then it will come together beautifully.

To complete the cake:

Split the cake layers. Add a layer of raspberry preserves and frosting between each layer.

This cake keeps very well in a cake saver at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, store in a cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It should come to room temperature before serving.
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  1. Thanks for hosting this week! I'm still working on my post, but I liked the cake :) I was skeptical about the chunky raspberries in the frosting, so I used a puree instead. That said, I think yours looks pretty with the specks of raspberry throughout the frosting so now I almost wish I'd tried the recipe as written!

  2. OMG! This looks so delicious! I love cakes that have fruit in the frosting or topping...yum! Plus, the hazelnuts sound like it gives the cake depth. Great post!

  3. No matter what you went through, you have a pretty cake.

    I didn't make it because this kind of cake does not go, in our house. I thought about cupcakes but this cake did not call for playing around, in my opinion.

    I am sure someone else did it though and I am curious to go looking.

    Thanks for hosting.

  4. oh this cake looks so nice and delicious. I like hazelnuts and paired with raspberries must be awesome. Nice blog !!!

  5. This looks so delicious and beautiful. Thanks for hosting. Unfortunately getting used to a new computer took all of my energy. I am still going to try and make some version of this soon!!

  6. Love how pretty and yummy the cake looks. I share your feelings toward italian buttercream...I had never tried it before and had a challenging time trying (unsuccessfully)to get it to work. Thanks for picking the recipe though...overall, I liked it.

  7. I'm sorry I didn't bake along with you. I totally forgot SMS started back up today. Your cake looks great!

  8. Your cake looks beautiful! I loved this cake, but then I am a huge fan of buttercream icing.

    None of the recipes in the book are exactly health food, so the amount of butter and eggs didn't bother me.

  9. Great choice for this week, thank you for hosting. I am not a buttercream frosting nut but this is the closest I have ever come to actually liking the frosting. Your cake turned out beautiful~!

  10. The cake looks delicious! Sorry it was not your favorite but sometimes you don't know until you try.

  11. Thank you for the recipe. This cake turned out to be delicious! I ended up blending the raspberries. The butter I used for the buttercream was a bit soft and made the cream a bit runny; otherwise, the cake was great!


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