Extraordinary Cakes: Lemon Praline Torte — SweetBites (2024)

Extraordinary Cakes: Lemon Praline Torte — SweetBites (1)

May 02, 2013 by Monica in Baking, Cake, Desserts, EXTC

While I love cooking savory food, my passion really is baking. Through the years, without even striving for it, I have become the “baker” of the family.Do we need a birthday cake? Call Monica.Is a fancy dessert needed? Call Monica.

Yes, sweet nothings are my thing. (Psst.. check the blog tittle)

But, even though I felt comfortable baking, I knew I was not a GREAT baker.There were many things out there in the baking world that were so unknown to me—pies, anything with yeast, techniques, certain flavor combinations—I was never gutsy enough to try them. I had gotten comfortable with my regular dessert repertoire.

Until I started this blog and saw what was out there—the possibilities. And the baking guru inside of me woke up, tapped me on the shoulder, and told me, “Dude, you need to feed me more baking challenges”

So, I joined a baking club – Heavenly Cake Baker.A group of bakers that came together to bake all of the recipes in Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

And I baked and baked for almost a year—50 cakes later and a lot of learning landed me in the “better baker” category—one that does not freak out when the buttercream is separating during mixing or using the (still dreaded) piping bag actually to decorate something and make it “pretty.”

With my new baking skills and experiences, I also gained tons of baking buddies. Sunday and Monday became my favorite days—I would sit and read how everyone fared with the designated cake of the week and soak up the tips and tricks, the personal stories, and the wonderful creativity that this group was willing to dish out.

When the last cake was baked, I think everyone went into a bit of mourning—what were we to do? Some of us started other baking clubs but were never quite the same. I believe that the level of complexity in Rose’s cake is what gave the bakers a challenge, and thus our recaps are always interesting because of the difficulty factor in the cake making and the successes and major failures that each of us experience.

So, when Raymond, a past HCB and a present Gutsy Cook Club member, and I were reminiscing about this, the talk turned to cookbooks, and we were very surprised at how similar our tastes in baking authors were.I happened to mention that I had gotten a new book from Karen Krasne – “Extraordinary Cakes,” and that I was dying to dive into this world of more than three steps-needed-to-create-this cake recipe.

Raymond mentioned that Karen Krasne was a local chef, that he knew her, and that he also tasted some of these creations in her bakery. He was more than willing to join me if I wanted. It took us two more emails before we had a list of cakes and a baking date for the first one.

Our first endeavor?

Behold the Lemon Praline Cake Torte. A torte made from a sponge cake (Génoise) soaked with mild-tangy lemon syrup, covered in exquisite lemon buttercream, and with a French meringue (think macaroon) center for a crunchy surprise.All of this is encased in a hazelnut and almond praline shell.

Extraordinary Cakes: Lemon Praline Torte — SweetBites (2)

2 days of baking and eight steps later, and I’m happy as a clam. My baking guru is jumping with joy.Sometimes you do need to make a complicated cake to be right with the world.

Raymond posted his experiences, and it’s a great recap, so I’m going to direct you to his post so you can read all about it in more detail and check out his décor, much better than mine. As for me, here are my quick thoughts on each of the steps:

Step 1: GENOISE - I had no issues with this step. The cake came together beautifully, the instructions were clear, and her timing was spot on: “Whip the mixture on high speed until light in color and tripled in volume, 7 to 10 minutes,” and in 7 minutes, my batter was tripled in volume and light in color! I love it when recipes do what they need to do.

Step 2: LEMON SIMPLE SYRUP—None.Easy-peasy.

Step 3: LEMON CURD—fasted lemon curd on the east coast!Having done this before in other recipes (I’m looking at you Lemon Canadian Crown) I prepared myself to be stirring over the stove for a longgggg time.It turns out that after about 4 minutes, this was done and it was so delectable, I had to stop myself from licking the bowl, spoon, and saucepan. I dreamed about it for 24 hours while it was in the refrigerator.

Step 4: ITALIAN MERINGUE—Again, this was a revelation for me, I have made so many Italian Meringues, and I always braced myself for a “sure-to-happen” burn from the hot sugar syrup.But again, it all came together beautifully and within the noted time frame.High five to you, Ms. Krasne!

Step 5: LEMON BUTTERCREAM—Another hit. I always had issues with buttercreams, they are not my favorite “frosting,” and I tend to give them a side eye, when I see a recipe that uses them. But this is the first-ever buttercream that worked from beginning to end. I have no clue if past experiences had made me more in tune with the butter being the right temperature, or if the baking gods were aligned that day, but this buttercream rocked it – and the taste…Ohhh, the taste!

Step 6: FRENCH MERINGUE—Think of this as one giant French macaroon, and you pretty much have this component down.Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and all of this placed in the middle of the torte. Ohh, yes.And it was as easy as 1, 2, 3 to make.

Step 7: HAZELNUT ALMOND PRALINE – to cover the cake. Unfortunately, during this step, I lost my mojo and let the sugar cook a bit too long, and it turned bitter on me by the time I realized the toasted hazelnuts and almonds were in the hot sugar mixture. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH HAZELNUTS COST? Yeah, I thought you would agree with me.Next time, I need to really watch that sugar a bit more closely, because I totally love the idea of this coverage on a cake.

Step 8: ASSEMBLY – there is something to be said when a cookbook author really thinks about how to convey steps in print.And I was very impressed with the instructions; the assembly came together in a zilch, and love, love the fact that the cake pan was used as the mold to build it upon.

Extraordinary Cakes: Lemon Praline Torte — SweetBites (3)

I’m totally in favor of this newly learned technique of building the cake in the pan and putting it in the freezer overnight for the whole thing to “set.”The result is an easier cake to frost and decorate and a sure way to avoid a lopsided cake.

So, after all of this work, how did the cake taste?

Superb! I thought that the buttercream, lemon curd, and syrup would yield a heavy cake, but I got a light, fresh-tasting cake.It’s truly a showstopper.It’s also a big cake, so be prepared to share it with everyone because there is no way you will finish it.

Raymond and I cannot wait to bake the next one on the list: The Ivoire Royale.

Note: No recipes will be shared in my Extraordinary Cakes post due to copyright restrictions with the publisher. I encourage you to support our author and buy the book here.To see our creations, we have a Pinterest board and Facebook group to share our experiences.

If you happen to have the book and fancy joining us in our little pack, where we are baking one cake a month, let me know via email.

Extraordinary Cakes: Lemon Praline Torte — SweetBites (2024)
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