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Castana Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Because of my busy schedule I forced myself to jump right into making this cake at the beginning of July. I was so ambitious, I decided to take it to a Fourth of July party where it was happily eaten.

I chose to use the Brazil nuts instead of almonds because of their availability and cost. I am always amazed at the fact that the nut alone is not very tasty, but makes for a delicious moist cake. The syrup and buttercream were infused with a coffee flavor, the syrup by adding coffee beans and coffee liqueur and the buttercream only liqueur.

In making some of the decisions about the buttercream, I thought I would try the same buttercream as from the Perfect Party Cake only to have it flop miserably! I tried the recipe as written and while it was usable, I was not pleased. Both came out rather waxy instead of creamy. Now, the thing I am wondering (and would love input on!) is the butter…before I have always used salted butter because it was available but recently found unsalted butter and have tried to use it in a number of things. I suppose I am wondering if I actually like the salted butter version of the buttercream instead of the unsalted. I know you cannot give me any input on what I liked or didn’t like, but maybe you can share your thoughts or experiences?

Instead of the fruit flavored jam, I decided to try using dulce de leche as a spreadable glaze. The ganache gave me a bit of trouble and I fought back by melting some chocolate chips and strirring them in in order to thicken it faster since more than 30 minutes had passed and I still had chocolate soup. I felt as though the ganache really overpowered the entire cake though. Because of my chocolate soup troubles, my time ran out and I could not decorate with the cream on top so I just sprinkled extra praline powder.

Overall, I was not overly impressed with the flavor and textures. But, it was a great challenge for me to practice the nut based cake and another buttercream recipe with the praline idea. I hope all of you enjoyed your cakes! I am posting this from the jungles of Peru and will not be able to visit nor comment on your blogs this month. Sorry!


Castana Gateau with Praline Buttercream is being served up for the July Daring Bakers Challenge. The Gateau was chosen by this months host, Chris from Mele Cotte. Please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see what other Gateaus are being served up today!

Other Daring Baker Posts:
Apple Danish Bread – June 2008
Passionfruit Opera Cake – May 2008
Cheesecake Pops – April 2008
Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake – March 2008
Julia Child’s French Bread – February 2008
Lime Meringue Pie Stars – January 2008
Christmas Yule Log – December 2007
Tender Potato Bread – November 2007


30 Responses to “Castana Gateau with Praline Buttercream”

  1. Sorry to hear that this one gave you some trouble… but your cake turned out beautifully in spite of it all!

    Posted by culinography | July 30, 2008, 7:48 pm
  2. Your cake still turned out nicely! I would love to try it with Brazil nuts. I hope all is going well for you in Peru!

    Posted by Erin | July 30, 2008, 7:49 pm
  3. It looks very nice. Not sure if unsalted butter would have more than an affect on the taste, can’t see why it would affect the consistency. Course if it is a different brand than you normally use, maybe it had a high water content?

    Posted by Jenny | July 30, 2008, 9:13 pm
  4. Brazilian nuts…yum! although there were bumps, it turned out great! Thanks for completing the challenge!

    Posted by Chris | July 30, 2008, 9:26 pm
  5. Your cake looks terrific. Salt is VERY important in a buttercream–it really improves the flavor. I know this because I left it out of my favorite buttercream recipe once and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste as good until I looked at the recipe again and saw that I had forgotten the salt. What a difference it made! Nice job! And have fun in the jungle!

    Posted by Bumblebutton | July 30, 2008, 9:53 pm
  6. Gretchen, I’ve found that baked goods taste about the same with salted vs unsalted butter, but I’m sure some would insult my lack of refined palette if I told a pro that! But really, I just don’t notice that much of a difference, though I now bake with almost exclusively with unsalted butter. I had the same problem with a runny ganache. I could have let it thicken in the fridge, but I didn’t feel like waiting any longer. I also agree with you in that the end product wasn’t stellar, though the practice on technique was good.Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

    Posted by Christina | July 30, 2008, 10:04 pm
  7. I’ll be curious to see what comes from the butter discussion, and how salt may effect the texture of the buttercream. Cake looks great. But I’m with you, wasn’t impressed with the flavor and textures of this cake.

    Posted by dobetter | July 31, 2008, 12:44 am
  8. Gretchen, I’m always amazed by your adaption of the recipes of all the groups you bake with to the local Peruvian available ingredients. Take care of yourself in the jungles!

    Posted by breadchick | July 31, 2008, 1:54 am
  9. Nice choices! Dulce de leche as layer sounds great. And who would not like extra praline powder on the cake? Chocolate ganache and it’s quality depends so greatly on what kind of chocolate one uses. I used high quality chocolate (because, believe it or not, I had it “lying around”) and made the lucky choice of starting with a lower amount than what the recipe called for. Otherwise mine would have been concrete within minutes I guess. Good troubleshooting with the extra chips.

    Posted by Sweet Tooth | July 31, 2008, 7:07 am
  10. castanas! that must make such a moist cake! very intriguing!

    Posted by pixie | July 31, 2008, 7:53 am
  11. Oh yum!! Looks great and I love the idea of using Brazil nuts too :)

    Posted by culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess | July 31, 2008, 10:50 am
  12. I love the praline sprinkled on top! I rarely use salted butter, so I can’t help you on that!

    Posted by Deborah | July 31, 2008, 1:38 pm
  13. Your cake looks great despite all the problems you had with it. I had a gut feeling I had to skip this challenge and so I did:) I just didn’t like the recipe from the first glance, too buttery, too chocolaty, too rich, just not what I wanted so I skipped:)

    Posted by farida | July 31, 2008, 1:49 pm
  14. Sorry this wasn’t the challenge for you, but I’m glad you still tried it anyways, even with your tight schedule. :)

    Posted by Hannah | July 31, 2008, 4:44 pm
  15. Your cake looks good! I like the sound of Brazil nuts and the dulce de leche.

    Posted by Kevin | July 31, 2008, 7:49 pm
  16. I absolutely love the idea of using brazil nuts! Great!

    Posted by Clumbsy Cookie | August 1, 2008, 5:55 am
  17. I love how creative you are about substituting and making beautiful desserts with what’s available to you. I’ve never tried baking with Brazil nuts. They’re not readily available here, so it’s interesting to hear that they bake up well.

    Posted by Cookie baker Lynn | August 1, 2008, 3:22 pm
  18. The end result is lovely. Brazil nuts are one of my favourite nuts – my mother buys them every Christmas as a treat.

    Posted by Cakelaw | August 1, 2008, 6:55 pm
  19. Your cake looks nice, even if some of the components didn’t want to behave themselves. I only use unsalted butter, so I can’t really help with your question.

    Posted by Di | August 2, 2008, 7:54 pm
  20. Ooh, Brazil Nuts sound wonderful! Your cake looks beautiful!

    Posted by Lauren | August 3, 2008, 11:42 am
  21. I thought the exact same thing… that the chocolate was overpowering.I don’t know that I’ve ever tried Brazil nuts.

    Posted by Jacque | August 5, 2008, 10:43 pm
  22. i always use salted butter too – and omit any salt that is called for in the recipe. i also used dorie’s buttercream in this cake – i enjoyed it much more than the opera cake. i too had chocolate “soup” but added 2 more ounces of chocolate and that seemed to fix it!

    Posted by Jaime | August 9, 2008, 8:17 pm
  23. Oh my goodness! Now I have been away I see what I have missed out on! So glad I am back, this looks delicous, I am craving some right now! mmm

    Posted by bbaking | August 12, 2008, 7:10 am
  24. Enjoy your seclusion in Peru. It’s always good to head into the wilderness with a satisfying dessert!

    Posted by Dana McCauley | August 13, 2008, 9:07 pm
  25. This might sound weird, but I prefer salted butter in frosting over unsalted. To me, unsalted butter makes frosting taste like a stick of butter, although techinically that’s what frosting is. Salted butter makes buttercream a little less sickly.. at least to me, but I always add more sugar.

    Posted by Steph | August 15, 2008, 6:46 am
  26. I hope you have fun in Peru!

    Posted by Garrett | August 16, 2008, 11:09 am
  27. Wow Mouthwatering and tempting.

    Posted by Kitchen Flavours | August 17, 2008, 12:46 am
  28. I’m a little late in my congratulations on finishing the challenge. I kept meaning to, and never even started (silly me!). I hope you’re having a great jungle adventure.

    Posted by chou | August 20, 2008, 6:48 am
  29. I went to Peru for the first time in April/May of this year and was just amazed by the country! I’m so impressed how they are really modernizing into a real force in Latin American and the Western Hemisphere while holding on fiercely and proudly to their rich heritage. I spent quite a bit of time in Lima and the Sacred Valley and am just awed by the people, the culture and the food! How lucky you are to experience on a daily basis! Te saludo!

    Posted by Anonymous | August 20, 2008, 10:51 pm
  30. Enjoy your time in Peru!your cake looks delicious..you have an award waiting for you on our blog ;)

    Posted by Arabic Bites | August 24, 2008, 5:05 am

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