Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July and Buttercream.. Two Bitter Lovers

Chris from Mele Cotte was our hostess this month - and a lovely hostess at that! Chris chose Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream as our Daring Baker challenge for the month of July.

I had mixed feelings.. I won't lie. Since my "lifestyle change" is still in effect, when I saw the cake included buttercream and chocolate, well I could feel my adrenaline start pumping and there seemed to be an instant bounce in my step.. CHOCOLATE. OHMYGOD HOW I MISS THEE SO MUCH.

On the other hand, as much as I love the buttercream, ugh.. I've had enough of it to last me a good long while AND the temps in NE Ohio are pretty high with the mugginess at about 593% - just a smidge uncomfortable in these parts. ;) I'm a lucky gal as we've got central air but I wondered if it'd be enough to keep my buttercream thick and workable.. Mmmm hmmm..

I present to you the answer to that question:

Filbert Gateau OHMYGOD

Allow me to fill ya'll in on the July Kitchen Disaster of 2008.

I was on vacation the week I decided to make the cake - it was the perfect time because we were going to a sleep over at 2 of my bestest friends' house and I knew I could unload the fat/calorie laden cake on them.. so I started on Monday and made the pistachio (Bless Chris' heart, she gave us lots of room to personalize this cake.. changing the nut being one of them) flour and pistachio praline. Both went off without a hitch.

I got back to the cake on Friday.. making the cake was, again, no problem.. my 2 layers puffed up nicely and were quite pretty in an green kind of way. hee! I decided to go with my go-to buttercream recipe from Jacques Torres because I'm confident in my ability to make that frosting without problems and wasn't really up to trying yet another buttercream recipe in the heat and humidity of my kitchen. Well, I guess it didn't matter what recipe I went with.. my house was just too warm and sticky even with the A/C BLASTING at Antarctic temperatures. I couldn't get this stuff to thicken up for the life of me. So I threw it in the freezer - and by that I mean, I literally threw the KA mixing bowl full of delicious buttercream soup into our chest freezer. :D

Saturday morning.. I OF COURSE get side tracked on DB stuff and email catch up duties.. so I've got about 2 hours to crank this cake out and make the 3 snackers I had planned on bringing. You know, I've been in this position more times than I can count.. actually every time. I am late for everything - the quintessential procrastinator extraordinare. Seriously. And it doesn't matter how many times I rush to finish something before the deadline - it doesn't matter that I'm a heaping sack of nerves, angst and perspiration as I bolt out the door to get where I'm suppose to be within an hour (or two) of when I was suppose to initially be there. It doesn't matter how I call myself names and then give myself the silent treatment for being such an ASSHOLE every single time. I conveniently forget all of that the next time I'm procrastinating about something.. GAH.

So this shouldn't come as a shock, but the very second I stepped foot in my kitchen that morning, the sky started to cloud over, I could smell the smoke from the firey depths of hell tickle my nostrils, I could sense pending disaster in the air.. yet I actually ignored it all and sliced my two layers into 4 layers. I added the praline to my barely thawed buttercream that barely thickened up after the deep freeze. I made a so-good-you-could-drink-with-a-straw soaking syrup of sugar, orange juice and Grand Marnier. I got out my brush, my offset spatula and my plastic lazy susan thingie that cake decorators use and I bravely began assembly.

First layer of cake and buttercream looked good! I had hope! Second layer.. not so much.. buttercream started to thin again.. but that's okay because my plan was to throw it in the fridge the very second I had all 4 layers together so it could set up while I started my antipasto salsa (mmm mmm good, btw!) and brie/strawberry jam filled phyllo cups (swoon).. third layer? Well.. the leaning Tower of Pisa came to mind.. and I started looking for my bamboo skewers.. fakk it, it won't take but a second to get that fourth and final layer on! Instructions said to soak the cut side of that final layer with the syrup and then flip it over so the even side was on top.. at least that's what I thought I read - to this day I'm not really sure if I was imagining that step or not.

Anyhoo.. soaked she be.. carefully flip her over on the top of the lean-to and then.. and then I'm holding a piece of the layer in each hand and the rest of it kinda just flooped onto the top of the cake.


It took a few seconds for me to get over the shock of the breakage. I mean, I know I shouldn't have been surprised - this is par for the course when I'm baking - but I was like.. "You've got to be fucking kidding me. WHY NOW?? DEAR GOD, WHY NOW???" And then I started laughing. Kinda like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit when he poured the last bucket of hot water into the tub, causing the tub to go crashing through the floor.. that kind of laugh where you are pretty damn sure you have just lost the very last semblance of your fucking mind and are also expecting Candid Camera personnel to pop out from behind the Frigidaire, pointing and laughing at you?

Filbert Gateau OHMYGOD

Only no one came popping out and apparently I had partial control of my mind because the panic started to set in.. I had less than an hour to finish all this AND get my butt into the shower so I didn't smell like buttercream and goat.

I simply turned my palms over and let the two pieces fall where they may.. I kinda nudged the part that flooped out on the cake over and like a puzzle, tried to put the pieces together. I probably would have had more success if I had chosen to move the pieces with the Vulcan Mind Meld technique than adding the heat from my hands to the buttercream.. but again, there wasn't much of my mind left at this point.

I finally cried UNCLE! And realized this cake wasn't going anywhere.. so the cake, complete with plastic lazy susan cake decorator thingie was thrown into the upright freezer in my kitchen. Course that would be after I opened it's door and half the contents came flying out at me - frozen blocks of tuna, bag of hard lil meatballs, 3 pound sack of sharp strawberry chunks, various ice cubes and I think there was a package of chicken sausage that came at me like a torpedo. So yeah, once I dodged all of that, the cake went in, I slammed the door and decided to stop thinking about it.. LALALALALALALALAALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU! YOU DON'T EXIST FUCKING SPLOOGEY MELTY BROKEN CAKE LALALALALALALALALAAAA

I didn't think about the cake the rest of the night and managed to at least accomplish the goal of getting completely hammered. I was suckin' down jello shots through a turkey injector, people! YEEE HAW!!! I have no recollection of saying good night to my fine hosts.. I have no recollection of finding the guest room.. getting into bed.. nothing. All I know is that I woke up the next morning and WANTED TO DIE. My hairs hurt. My clothes hurt. I hadn't been that hung over since way back in my drinking days say.. oh.. 10-15 years ago? Holy mother of a hairless Chin. I thought for sure I was going to meet my maker at any second.

Filbert Gateau

So as you might imagine, the thought of that cake didn't enter my mind AT ALL on Sunday either. Monday night rolled around and I was still hung-over, I shit you not. But now I was hungry again and nothing was going to cure what ailed me other than chocolate and buttercream, so I took that frozen bitch out of the freezer and whipped up a delectable ganache. I sliced the uneven (to say the least) sides off and poured that sweet sweet nectar over the top.. I even salvaged a lil buttercream from the other freezer and made a pretty decoration...

Filbert Gateau


Okay, horror stories aside, ultimately I'd like to make out with Chris for chosing such an amazing cake.. the taste was phenomenal. I'm not sure if it was the flavors I chose (pistachio, orange, chocolate and raspberry [the preserves I slathered all over it before pouring the ganache]) or if it was because I truly SOAKED the layers in that syrup.. but it was sooooo moist and the orange/choc/raspberry together was just over the top.

Filbert Gateau
Did I mention that I SOAKED the cake in the syrup? NOM NOM NOM *slurp*

I did NOT take this cake in to share with the co-workers. NO. I. DID. NOT. I sliced her up and froze the slices :D Oh yes my friends.. Lissee will not share this cake with anyone, cellulite be damned. As of today, there are 8 slices left.. let's see if I can make it through the entire summer before depleting my supply. HAR!

Excellent challenge! Loved it! Will most likely NEVER make it again! At least not in the summer months.. hehee

Ya'll know the drill.. start clickin' on that blogroll and commence with the droolage!


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Comments on "July and Buttercream.. Two Bitter Lovers"


Blogger Ben said ... (7/30/2008 1:10 PM) : 

Wow Lis! That was quite a story. I am sorry about the "disaster", but like I've always said, if it tastes good, who cares how it looks? ;) Now with a LARGE cup of coffee at my side I am ready to see what I missed this month. :-p


Blogger Jen Yu said ... (7/30/2008 1:12 PM) : 

OMG, Lis, you have me doubled over with my sides about to split! I'm so sorry this was such a pain in the butt, and yet you managed to pull it off! It looks pretty spankin' and I love the HA! on the cake ;) You crack me up, lady - I love you!!


Blogger Judy@nofearentertaining said ... (7/30/2008 1:13 PM) : 

Wow! I had to bow out of this one and from some of the results that are popping up today I am so glad!!! Your cake ended up great looking and the story behind it is a great read!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2008 1:16 PM) : 

That really sucks about the disaster. However, I LOVE how you decorated it with "HA!" on top. That is classic :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2008 1:18 PM) : 

I enjoyed reading your post immensely :) The main thing is that it was delicious! The HA! on top is priceless :)


Blogger Barbara Bakes said ... (7/30/2008 1:39 PM) : 

Oh my! I thought my cake was a disaster. Good job on the salvage!


Blogger Pam said ... (7/30/2008 1:44 PM) : 

Lis, I feel for you in regards to your cake, but you had my laughing out loud reading this. Great effort!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2008 1:53 PM) : 

Looks like you saved it in the end, and it makes for a great story! I froze my leftovers for myself too :)


Blogger Andrea Meyers said ... (7/30/2008 2:05 PM) : 

Ba ha ha ha ha! My sides hurt.

I had the same problem with the top! After my 5 yo picked up the top layer with two fingers it completely fell apart. What an bloody mess. Thanks for making me laugh. Love your top decoration. ;-)


Blogger Judy said ... (7/30/2008 2:22 PM) : 

Ha, Ha! Love the story. I'd sure love to be a fly on your wall while you're baking! I bet it tasted good, even so.


Blogger Jennywenny said ... (7/30/2008 2:37 PM) : 

Oh gosh! I love the bit where you put 'HA' on the cake!

Mine started to look a bit iffy after adding the glaze, but thankfully it wasnt totally crazy hot here so I seemed to get off lightly!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2008 2:43 PM) : 

Ha! I love how you transitioned from carefully typing "FAKK" to good old "fucking" this and "fucking" that in the middle of your post. You clearly got a little caught up in the memories there. :-)


Blogger Veron said ... (7/30/2008 2:59 PM) : 

Whoa! What a story...freaking buttercream!!! But you prevailed and manage to get the glaze on whooeey! Love ya!


Blogger giz said ... (7/30/2008 3:05 PM) :'m still sitting here in total hysterics. I have this visual of you with one finger in each ear going lalalalalala. The jello shooters would have been good consolation for me too - but not the hurting hair the next day. You did salvage and that's why you are one of the queens of Daring Bakers. Bravo!!!


Blogger Katie B. said ... (7/30/2008 3:11 PM) : 

O no - why did you have to tell us about putting slices in the freezer? Now *I* won't share with my coworkers either - dammit!

My question is this: What WOULD you have done if a dude with a mic popped out of the fridge?


Blogger Peabody said ... (7/30/2008 3:24 PM) : 

Only you my dear, only you! Oh and btw it can't be considered a disaster if you still want to eat it when it is done!:)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2008 3:42 PM) : 

LOL!! My most enjoyed posts so far are the ones with disasters. :) I literally laughed out loud reading your post. Sorry it didn't turn out for you, but at least you gave us lots of laughs today. There's a bunch of pretty cakes elsewhere ;) this is just fine.


Blogger Laura Rebecca said ... (7/30/2008 4:23 PM) : 

You are amazing! :) I think this is my favorite piping job on this challenge yet.


Blogger katylinvw said ... (7/30/2008 4:51 PM) : 

nicely salvaged! thank you for not being perfect, it takes a lot of pressure off! lol!


Blogger Shelby said ... (7/30/2008 4:59 PM) : 

Oh, I am LMAO right now! Awesome post!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2008 5:26 PM) : 

As long as it was tasty, who cares what it looks like. Great post!


Blogger Cynthia's Blog said ... (7/30/2008 5:43 PM) : 

Yikes, when a pro like you screws up it makes us all feel so much better?!

The taste is what counts...


Blogger Julie said ... (7/30/2008 6:03 PM) : 

AHHHH! My jaw dropped! But you pulled it together in the end! I read that bit about soaking the top, too, before putting it on the cake. I put the top layer on first before soaking it the same way I did the previous three layers.

Great post, too! I've done that Money Pit laugh many a time.

I hope your liver's recovered! ;)


Blogger Heather B said ... (7/30/2008 6:11 PM) : 

woo hoo! You pulled it out! Great job! Mine was unsalvageable. I'm so jealous!


Blogger Marce said ... (7/30/2008 6:18 PM) : 

hahaha awesome recap! And the "HA!" on the cake is priceless!


Blogger Unknown said ... (7/30/2008 7:02 PM) : 

Holy crap that was the funniest thing I've read in a LONG time! That's really some serious skills to take what it looked like in the first picture and transform it to how it looked in the last, I would have given up for sure!

I give you serious props!


Blogger PheMom said ... (7/30/2008 7:36 PM) : 

OH NO!!! You are a real trooper for going through with it all!


Blogger Helene said ... (7/30/2008 8:59 PM) : 

That cake decoration is the best! :)Lisa, once again, a well executed challenge, Ha!
Looks like it would taste absolutely awesome!


Blogger glamah16 said ... (7/30/2008 9:14 PM) : 

It all worked out! Great idea to freeze the slices as little treats for later.


Blogger Jenny said ... (7/30/2008 9:45 PM) : 

You know, I didn't have the nightmare you had, but ended up with a cake I didn't like. How about you ship by frozen air a slice of yours and let me have a piece of amazing cake, cause I need one!
It's a good thing I had warning about you story or I'd have choked myself with laughter and peed my pants.


Blogger Camille said ... (7/30/2008 10:04 PM) : 

I laughed my butt off reading your post! Thank you for that and for sharing despite the outcome.

I labeled my photo file for this: The Cake from Hell. This caked kicked my butt.

I'm right up there in the procrastination department. Usually I'm throwing stuff into my sink as I'm grabbing my keys to take one of the kiddos to their sports or music. (Mind, my house is on the market and a full sink is a no no, but oh, well.)

Good job finishing the cake!


Blogger Dharm said ... (7/30/2008 10:14 PM) : 

Great Post as always! Sorry it was a bit of a disaster but I LOVE the HA on the cake!! Incidentally, its my DB birthday! Can you imagine one year has gone by so quick? Thanks for all the laughs, all the fun and increasing my baking skills my dear!


Blogger Cara said ... (7/30/2008 10:16 PM) : 

So funny! Way to salvage the cake at the end. Love the piping!


Blogger Y said ... (7/30/2008 10:57 PM) : 

Hahahahha!! Oh dear, what a story! I hope your mind, if not the cake, is still intact after such an adventure!


Blogger Chris said ... (7/30/2008 11:13 PM) : 

Oh Lis! I am sorry my pick gave you issues. Thanks for pluggin' through, though! I didn't mean to laugh again...really! :)


Blogger Megan said ... (7/31/2008 12:21 AM) : 

Sorry about the disaster but it made for a damn good post! And I'm glad to hear there is room in a "healthy lifestyle" for cake and buttercream!!! :)


Blogger Michelle Dargen said ... (7/31/2008 12:34 AM) : 

OMG! Your story is absolutely brilliant!!! I am so glad you kept with it until the very end. HA!!


Blogger Elle said ... (7/31/2008 1:06 AM) : 

Ha! What would the world do without you and your fabulous posts? Still dusting off the dog hairs from rolling on the floor with laughter. Sorry the cake had a mind of its own, but at least there was chocolate.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/31/2008 2:43 AM) : 

And this is why I adore you so much my luv! You are the only person I know who can describe breaking a cake and then watching it slide down each side of the cake on a flowing river of melting butter cream and make spew wine on my computer and then say to myself I want to do THAT exactly the way Lisa just did!!

And then I saw the HA!

OMG I laughed so hard I think just woke up half of the Sun Valley Resort...

Thanks for reminding me of WHY I do this every read your posts.


Blogger Aparna Balasubramanian said ... (7/31/2008 5:13 AM) : 

I had the same experience of a half in my hand and the other half assembled cake for the Opera.
I'm now convinced that all the ganache and buttercream slathering over the cakes is not just for "prettying" the cake but the improvisation of geniuses who knew that hiding these "accidents" was important!
I think your cake looks interesting but your post blew me away.:)


Blogger BC said ... (7/31/2008 8:07 AM) : 

Booze solves everything! Glad to see you both got soaked.


Blogger BC said ... (7/31/2008 8:07 AM) : 

Booze solves everything! Glad to see you both got soaked.


Blogger Kelly said ... (7/31/2008 8:57 AM) : 

Fantastic post - just what I needed to start my day. Although I think co-workers are looking over at me curiously (and with some concern!) to see what's causing all of the laughter!!!


Blogger pixie said ... (7/31/2008 10:38 AM) : 

That was just hilarious! The funniest write-up I've come across!!! And i do love the HA! It's always such a pleasure to read your blog!


Blogger Faery said ... (7/31/2008 11:26 AM) : 

Oh I am sorry about the problems with the cake, but I think the final resul looks really yummy and I love "ha!" at on the cake the cake is beautiful, you overcame this battle. I did too, you know challenges with so much butter are not a good idea for people in Venezuela...I think


Blogger Deborah said ... (7/31/2008 11:53 AM) : 

You are too funny! How it tastes is the most important thing - and the fact that you have 8 slices waiting in the freezer for you!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/31/2008 1:09 PM) : 

I almost peed myself reading this post. You pulled back the baking curtain for all the world to see the ugly truth of what goes on in kitchens all over the world!


Blogger Clumbsy Cookie said ... (7/31/2008 5:11 PM) : 

LOLLLLLLLLL! You are so funny! I love you first photo, ahahah! Disasters apart I'm so sure it tasted great with the flavours you chose!


Blogger una donna dolce said ... (7/31/2008 7:14 PM) : 

Oh no! I love your triumphant decorating though - it may have won a battle but that cake lost the war! I love your idea of pre-portioning and freezing - I need to do that - otherwise I will either eat it all or it'll go bad...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/31/2008 9:10 PM) : 

That cake looks so good! I've had so many cakes fail, I don't bake anymore. I give you a lot of credit for trying it and even more for fixing it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/31/2008 10:32 PM) : 

Haha, what a way to recover from a "disaster!" Sorry you had so much trouble with it, but really, I'm just impressed that you forged ahead and still finished. I would have thrown a temper tantrum and tossed it in the trash the moment things went awry!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/01/2008 9:09 AM) : 

Ab-so-fricken-lute-ly hysterical!!! I luz ya, I luz your SOAKED layers and I luz the fact that you too are a QPE!!!!


Blogger Deeba PAB said ... (8/01/2008 11:35 AM) : 

Definitely not a summer cake...what a tale Lis!! I think we can exchange horror stories of hot kitchens & humidity...but yours takes the cake!! ooooooooops, I mean gateau! LOL...great stuff!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/01/2008 12:58 PM) : 

Wow! That is one of the best kitchen disasters I've ever read about. To be fair, the last picture looks absolutely delicious, even if it isn't what would typically be described as "pretty" as far as food pictures. I still want to launch myself onto that cake...


Blogger Stephanie said ... (8/01/2008 2:34 PM) : 

I love you for your bravery and willingness to prove not every trip to the kitchen is a winner!

There are times, as I'm about to set dinner or whatever on the table, Matt asks 'aren't you going to take a picture?', and I have to acknowledge my mortal-ness and admit that said food is not even close to photo-worthy!

I would so make this with pistachios, should I ever want to go cross-eyed figuring out all the steps for this again. Good job, humidity, and all!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/01/2008 4:04 PM) : 

I'm so sorry about the 'disaster' but it looks like it turned out ok in the end, I love the "ha" too.


Blogger Kelly-Jane said ... (8/01/2008 5:17 PM) : 

I had as many mishaps with this cake, which I did own up to :) :) Hee hee.

As long as it looks deceont and tastes fab, that's all that matters in the end.


Blogger coffee and queso said ... (8/01/2008 6:03 PM) : 

Hillarious; I love it! Isn't it great when something that looks like an utter mess in production ends up looking and tasting great!? Sadly, I often can't pull off the same: my stuff usually looks great when I start and it looks just okay when I'm done! Still tastes damn good, though. ;)


Blogger Sara said ... (8/02/2008 1:36 AM) : 

jesus, you are too funny.
OMG my word verification for this comment is pubecz!
ok, i better go to sleep.


Blogger Brittany said ... (8/02/2008 2:32 AM) : 

Ugh. I am cringing at the thought of you poor brave bakers making buttercream in the heat. My heart goes out to you all.

Sounds like a pretty grubbin disaster though : )


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/02/2008 1:49 PM) : 

Lis you are killing me..."I shit you not". You are way to fun. We should cook together but the kitchen might blow up. And I love the decoration..."Ha!". Absolutely perfect. I also have an attitude of 'it wins or I win' and being a woman, I always win even if I must change the rules. Mine looked beautiful in slices and tasted perfect. And I will make it again when I have a week. Have a great month.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/03/2008 12:03 AM) : 

Funniest post ever! I think if it tastes good then it can't be called a disaster. ;)


Blogger Mary said ... (8/03/2008 3:32 PM) : 

Your story is so funny! I love how you were drinking jello shots from the turkey baster!
And I think you have the best buttercream decorations around!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/04/2008 3:26 AM) : 

Last read before bed on a Sunday night. BWAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHA. Floop? OMG. And the stuff flying out of the freezer. Um. No. Of course that's NEVER happened to moi. And you are so right. The flavor was amazing. YUM.


Blogger Lauren said ... (8/04/2008 10:15 AM) : 

Well at least it tasted good. Isn't what it's all about anyways? The finished cake looks great!


Blogger Wendy said ... (8/05/2008 2:06 PM) : 

What a great first photo - it sets the tone for your post wonderfully. I don't know how to kick that procrastinating thing either! Enjoy eating that cake. Wendy


Blogger MsC said ... (8/06/2008 11:39 AM) : 

Oh dear, I am so sorry it didn't work for you. And I thought I had it bad with the humidity and NO air conditioning when I tackled mine. Still, your finished product looks fab. Love the buttercream decoration. Glad you kept the cake all for yourself. I shoulda done that with mine.


Blogger Brilynn said ... (8/06/2008 1:43 PM) : 

Your disaster stories never fail to entertain! I can't tell you how many times I've ended up holding cake halves in each of my hands and cursing my stupidity at thinking I could just pick it up and throw it on top of the cake.

And I need to get myself one of those little lazy susan gadgets, maybe it would help some of my disasters be less so.


Blogger Lori said ... (8/06/2008 4:40 PM) : 

Ha! I love it. What a sense of humor. You crack me up.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/07/2008 7:07 AM) : 

uummm delicious cake love it...feeling hungry..pls give it 2 me.


Blogger crunchLin said ... (8/11/2008 5:22 PM) : 

hahaha, considering how it turned out, you would never know the fantastic or... maybe horrific... story behind it.! haha great entertainment! Im sure it tastes wonderful!


Blogger Faery said ... (8/20/2008 11:13 PM) : 

I have a surprise for you in my blog, please come see.


Blogger cezca said ... (10/13/2008 10:11 PM) : 

YUMMMMMY! How it Looks? i think it still looks yummy, and i bet it is, nice blog


Blogger smileyzulu said ... (10/14/2008 6:32 AM) : 



Blogger cali chic said ... (10/15/2008 8:44 AM) : 

Okay, I can't read any more of your blog posts, the pictures are making me HUNGRY! kudos


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