Luscious Layers

Layer cakes are one of my favorite desserts to make, perhaps because they’re more like craft projects than most baked goods. Always a crafter at heart, I can’t help but see the plane-jane cake rounds as being like the sewn lining to a jacket; the frosting and filling make up the outside, to be displayed for all to see; the careful piping closely mimic elaborate embroidery; dragees and sprinkles themselves could almost pass for beads and buttons. Every cake is its own masterpiece and work of art… And that’s not even saying anything about the fun of demolishing and eating it! That’s why I was quite happy to see that the next Daring Baker challenge was to be another intricate layer cake, with plenty of bold flavor to boot.

Three layers of hazelnut cake, multiple glazes and syrups, praline buttercream, and did I mention chocolate? Yep, it’s got pretty much everything you could ask for in one cake! There wasn’t a ton of wiggle room for variations on this one, but I did opt to remove the rum syrup. My cakes were plenty moist, and it was going to a birthday party with kids who would be mighty disappointed if they couldn’t have a slice. Lightening up this hefty assembly was top priority beyond choosing the glaze, so I kept the buttercream on the outside and sandwiched some conservatively sweetened cooked frosting between the layers. That would have been one tooth-achingly sweet cake otherwise! Homemade lemon jam took the place of apricot, which brought in a wonderful citrus bite that seemed to perk up the whole flavor profile just a bit. Most notable, however, is probably how I decided to ultimately finish off my cake.

No, I didn’t misread the instructions, I know that the cake is supposed to be fully covered in ganache… But damn it, I didn’t want to! The original picture didn’t really catch my eye in terms of design so I threw cation to the wind and went for the “dipped” look. My only disappointment in this whole challenge was my shortcomings on the decorations… I had my heart set on caramel-dipped hazelnuts, with long, graceful stems of glass-like cooked sugar, but the humidity had other ideas.

Another winning recipe, if I do say so myself! My favorite part of this one was the hazelnut praline buttercream- Ridiculously addictive, and stupidly easy to make. Essentially a caramelized and whipped peanut butter, it was tempting to just spread it on toast and bag the cake! But really, you wouldn’t want to forget about that moist, tender filbert gateau. Like all the other individual components, it’s very simple to whip up, but presented all together, it becomes a show-stopping grand finale.

71 thoughts on “Luscious Layers

  1. WOW WOW WOW! That cake looks truly outstanding! I agree that your “dipped” look with the ganache looks much more appealing than it would had it been fully covered. Once again, I’m amazed with your ability.

  2. Oh. Wow. That looks so good! I love the “dipped” look. Incredible!

    And this has me very excited to see what the August DB project will be as that will be my first! :)

  3. Look fabulous! I like the ganache only going part way down….:) And the praline? I am suprised I had enough after all my nibbling. Thanks for a great interpretation of my pick!

  4. lovely layers my dear! I actually prefer the dipped ganache look you did instead. The cake is already too sweet as it is and doesnt need the added chocolate ganache…. wait, did I just type that?! oh my. Ms. chocoholic here must be nuts.

  5. Oh Hannah,
    I wish I could come over and have a piece of cake with you. It’s so gorgeous and it sounds just amazing. I have been snacking on some extra roasted hazelnuts I made a couple of weeks ago… and just reveling in what a delicious and unique flavor they have. This cake is like a vision from my dreams!

  6. Love the way you decorated the top despite the lack of caramelized hazelnuts ;) And it looks much better not totally covered in ganache.The inside looks gorgeous too.
    And the buttercream…..I totally agree on that one!

  7. That looks gorgeous – well done! I totally agree about layer cakes being more like craft projects… I thought of this one as a sort of model aeroplane. I was so excited to see whether it would fly… and it did :-)

  8. Your cake looks stunning! I love the dipped look – t really gives it that extra original touch. And the nutty buttercream is indeed addictive!!

  9. gorgeous! and I love how you described making layer cakes, I so feel the same way. It’s not really baking so much as, well… art! Mmmmmmm…. and after reading the cake for breakfast entry on cakespy I’d REALLY love a slice of this with my coffee!

  10. Your cake looks wonderful.
    The “dipped” look is certainly visually appealing. And yes, these cakes are like craft projects.

  11. Oh My Gosh! That cake looks to die for! I was licking my computer screen! Wonderful sounding cake! I wish I could have a piece of that cake right now!

  12. Oh my, this is absolutely stunning! I definitely prefer the dripping look over the all-over one, I love how the cake peeks out.

    Hmm, this daring baker thing looks like fun, perhaps I should join in. :-)

  13. As a “newbie” part of the fun has been seeing all the different version of the same basic recipe. I never thought of lemon – what a great choice! And I loved the dipped look!

  14. Hannah, I love your decision to cover the exterior in buttercream, and then partially cover that with chocolate ganache – it looks totally awesome. And you finished it off so nicely with the crushed hazelnuts and perfect piping – I bet it was a huge hit!! :)

  15. You are so talented and this cake just looks amazing! All the flavors sound heavenly together and I’m sure everyone enjoyed every last bite =)

  16. Beautiful cake Hannah! I love making layered cakes too, probably my favorite thing to bake. Love the dipped look. So sad about the humidity…. that always makes candy making a bit finicky.

  17. Besides the fact that your cake looks luscious I love the fact that you didn’t completely cover it with the ganache. It looks much more elegant and the simple design on top just makes it perfect . Congrats on a great cake!!!

  18. Fabulous take on the challenge! I fought the humidity gods all day long on that one and got caramel so stay presentable for a mere 20 minutes.

  19. Your cakes looks wonderful. Love the ganache oozing over the edge. The use of the lemon jam in place of the apricot is an interesting idea, bet it tasted great.

  20. Your ganache is so thick and your cake is so….fluffy. I am in complete awe. (And I will send you boxes of vegan goodies if you will reveal your secret to getting such a great rise!)

  21. As a fellow rule breaker I commend your decision to give the dipped effect. It looks stunning, and decadently delicious. I really wish I could be there baking with you, drawing/crafting while it baked and then having this baby to enjoy…heaven! :-)

  22. Hi! I really enjoy reading your blog and the variety that you have (as I love crafts as well!). I think it was a good call on the “dipped” look for this cake, it is definitely different and unique.

  23. Holy moly. Chocolate, hazelnut, and lemon in a cake together sounds ridiculously divine. And the presentation is drop-dead gorgeous. Nice work!

  24. This cake looks insanely gorgeous – some cakes just look too “good” to eat, but this one wouldn’t stand a chance alone in a room with me and a spoon. I can’t even imagine what it must taste like to bite through all those layers, but I’m sure it would surpass most deserts I’ve ever tasted!

  25. Let me be the bazillionth commenter to drool over your cake here… These baking challenge posts drive me crazy with envy!

  26. Amazing. Incredible. And now I’m speechless. I think I’ve finally found a cake to make for my husband’s birthday!

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