Hazelnut Filling Rancid (ick) + Driving 4.5 hours with Buttercream Cake
Posted: 26 August 2013 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi lovely bakers,
I am making a wedding cake for next week, and I am getting my game plan in motion. I am making a chocolate cake with a vanilla bean IMBC and a hazelnut filling.
I am super stuck on a couple of things…..and I have been reading and re-reading threads here and elsewhere for hours trying to come up with the solutions. But I no longer have time for that!
1. The couple is super happy with the chocolate cake and buttercream they they tried, but want something more Nutella-esque for the filling. I made my own hazelnut paste for the silk meringue buttercream variation (suggested elsewhere on this forum, using nut paste for half the weight of the praline) and somehow the finished filling ended up tasting a bit rancid. Ugh. Plus neither the couple nor I liked the slight gritty texture (similar to smooth natural peanut butter). I am down to the wire here, and I have read that I can just fold Nutella into buttercream straight from the jar (or with the oil layer poured off first). I am tempted to do that since they love Nutella. Some people even use straight Nutella as a filling. Does anyone have any suggestions? I also bought a high-quality Italian imported hazelnut paste which is very smooth.
2. I have to drive this cake 4-5 hours to a rental house on Saturday, where I have a fridge solely dedicated to chilling the cake overnight before the wedding on Sunday. The cake will need to be set up by 2pm & won’t be eaten until at least 7:30pm. The tiers are 12”/9”/6” and & a back-up 9"x13” or 10” round. My plan is to fully compose the cakes before travelling and transport the tiers separately in boxes, and will stack the tiers at the wedding venue on Sunday.
My question is: Should I have the cake frozen, the defrost in the car on the way down? In other words, can the cakes go directly from freezer to car? Or would it be better if they were just chilled overnight (it’s a commercial kitchen reach-in cooler) before the drive down?
I have read many posts about wrapping the frozen tiers in plastic wrap (and sometimes foil) to prevent freezer burn, but is this necessary for just a day or two? Won’t they be OK in a cake box which is then wrapped? Also, I still don’t understand when/how to take the plastic wrap OFF the fully composed, decorated cake tier without marring the frosting.
If I need to decorate when I am down there I will, but I prefer to finish everything, then bring some buttercream as a back-up only (maybe for cleaning up borders, etc.)
The decorations are all very simple, done with a small offset. For example, this will be the style of the top tier: http://ohhappyday.com/2012/09/styled-eats-how-to-perfectly-frost-a-scallop-cake/
Any tips or advice would be much appreciated!!

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Posted: 26 August 2013 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, you can add Nutella to a meringue buttercream; we’ve done this a few times and had it come out nicely.  I haven’t seen oil in the Nutella, but it incorporates better if it is soft.  Not more than 10 seconds in the microwave if you need to.  If you soften the Nutella you can even spread it on the cake layers, it definitely works better when it is soft for that.

If I were driving a cake that far, I agree that the best course of action is to have the tiers boxed separately, with a finish coat of buttercream on the sides and then stack the cake after it has chilled overnight at the site. If you need to do any touch-up, it will be easier to do that morning and won’t take very long.  In packing the boxed tiers, wrap the boxes with plastic wrap, put them in a larger trash bag or a cooler or insulated cooler bag if you have a large enough one and use gel packs (or dry ice if you can get it) to keep it chilled during the ride. By wrapping the boxes, you won’t get the boxes wet from condensation from the gel packs.  I don’t think you need to have the cakes frozen, but if you did, it’s not a problem.  If you’re using a commercial freezer - one that holds at 0 or below, then yes, you’re going to see some condensation and the boxes will get “wet” if you go from the freezer to the car….but nothing bad will happen to the cake unless the boxes get so soft that they cave in when you pick them up.

Good Luck!

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Posted: 26 August 2013 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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re: hazelnut paste, I have used a wonderful, completely smooth toasted hazelnut paste from L’epicerie for years.  I store it in the freezer and it has never turned rancid.  I have often added it to mousseline (Italian meringue buttercream) along with vanilla extract or white chocolate, it is to die for.  I only suggest it because keeping the filling pale will give a nice presentation against the dark chocolate cake.  It also works just fine to add it to ganache (equal weights dk chocolate/cream) for a dreamy choco-hazelnut filling. 

Good luck with the wedding cake, hope you’ll post pictures!  smile

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Posted: 26 August 2013 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you so so much. I feel better already! And yes I will post pics.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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also where do you typically buy the gel packs?
I can get dry ice but I think the gel packs might be easier to deal with.
Also the temps won’t be ridiculous ly hot. In other words I am more concerned about the cake being too cold in the muddle (the bottom tier anyway) than too warm. I just don’t know whether taking it from the fridge will be too risky.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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If it was me, for the filling’ I would probably make ganache, semi sweet and add Nutella into it. I know we take pride in making everything from scratch (including water if possible), but there are things we simply cannot duplicate.

What do you think the weather temperature be when you drive ? I once made a 5tier butter cream wedding cake and drove for about over three hours, from Sacramento to Sonoma for the wedding. It was fine when it got there. As long as the temp is not 100+ degrees, that should be fine.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Was it chilled or frozen when you left? It won’t be too hot. We are driving from the bay area to SLO and the max temp expected is in the 70s.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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You mean San Luis Obispo right ? That was in October. Temp was about high 70s. No it was not frozen but it was very cold.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 03:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I just got back from the wedding weekend and had to post right away before I forgot. Mainly because I had to thank you all for your supportive responses and suggestions! Thanks Jeanne, Julie & prettycake!
Of course, I had unexpected problems and challenges, but also of course, everything turned out well in the end. I realize that many of the precautions and stresses beforehand are necessary, but this time I promised myself I wouldn’t make myself (or my husband or friends) miserable over things I can’t control. OF COURSE there was an extra hour of traffic delay on the drive. Of course it was 15 degrees warmer than forecasted and the fridge at my rental house was only turned on a few hours before we got there…. and there was a blanket stuffed in the freezer preventing air flow from cooling the fridge! And of course the venue had no fridge space. I just tried to not let anything get to me because I wanted to look cute and enjoy the wedding. I guess that’s my advice to anyone embarking on a wedding cake project and driving it a long distance. Prepare as much as possible, but also prepare to roll with the punches. smile

I solved the Nutella filling and can post my recipe later, but I essentially mixed Nutella into the same vanilla IMBC used for the outside of the cake (made with Madagascar vanilla bean paste so there were visible flecks), and then added imported Italian hazelnut paste (Pariani Pasta di Nocciola) to intensify the hazelnut flavor and make it less cloyingly sweet. I will probably never make my own hazelnut paste after tasting the Italian version. This also allowed the nice light mocha color to contrast with the dark chocolate cake and white frosting. I am so happy with how it turned out. It was very soft and fluffy, so I was sure to pipe a good buttercream dam.

I ended up travelling with the cake tiers (which had chilled overnight in a reach-in fridge) boxed separately (6”, 9” and 12” + 9"x13” for 110 ppl) with nonskid shelf liner inside the boxes and the outside of the boxes triple-wrapped in plastic. We placed freezer gel packs around them in the car, and my husband put opaque white plastic sheeting (a cut-up white bag) over the back windows to avoid sunlight hitting the boxes directly. Even though it was nerve-wracking it worked well. Our real issue turned out to be not having a cool fridge at our destination as we had expected. I knew the cakes would be safe to eat even at room temp. I was just concerned that they would slide en route to the venue or that the designs I swirled into the buttercream with a spatula would just soften into blobs. The day of the wedding, it was much hotter than expected, and after a night in a barely cool fridge, I was starting to worry the cake would melt before it was served. I pictured people biting into the buttercream and getting oily/greasy instead of silky/fluffy. Luckily, everything worked out really well. A later afternoon breeze sailed through the barn and about 6pm, I knew it would be OK. People loved the cake.

I wish I had a photo of a slice out, but unfortunately the servers pulled me away to slice and serve the cake because they didn’t feel comfortable cutting the cake. Generally the cake baker does not do this and I was less than thrilled to cut 120 pieces of cake in my chiffon dress and heels. But hey, it had to get done.

Here are some pictures of the cake table setup in the barn, the full cake and a detail shot of the top tier.

I couldn’t have done it without you guys and this wonderful forum. xoxo

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Posted: 03 September 2013 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Wow, your cake is gorgeous!  Perfectly designed and suited to a lovely upscale barn wedding.  You did an exemplary job of planning and executing the cake, that is one lucky bride.  From testing and tasting to storing, wrapping and transporting, you took care of every detail.  Congratulations on a job very well done!

I’m totally with you on the Italian hazelnut paste- only way to go, it is divine and keeps well in the freezer smile

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Posted: 03 September 2013 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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that is so pretty and looks so delicious!!  I want a slice. So glad it worked out.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 09:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Beautiful cake, very elegant. Sorry to hear about your ordeal on the weather and traffic. But regardless, you delivered what the customer wanted like a real pro w/out having second thoughts of whether to give what the customer REALLY wanted or not in spite the kind of icing you like to work with based on personal preference. It is what the customer requested, simple as that, not what you want or don’t want to put in your mouth or feed your family, which would not make sense. But fabulous and skillful cake designers like you would never do that non sense. Great job. One more happy customer. Was the frosting the crusting kind ? grin grin grin would love to see more of your very beautiful and presentable work.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 02:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thanks everyone!! And prettycake, the frosting was certainly not the crusting kind. (Not my favorite.) It was a meringue buttercream, which is why I was so concerned about the temperature during the drive and in the barn during the wedding. The bride wanted a white cake (meaning no ganache) and didn’t want fondant (I am not a fan either, but it does keep cake protected) so it’s the risk I/we took.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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StartfromScratch:  Would you mind posting your recipe for the nutella IMBC?  I’m making our wedding cake next month and have been searching for a good IMBC flavored with nutella.  Thanks!

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