1 Hazelnut Sponge Sheet Cake
For the Buttercream:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 batch pastry cream (1 and 1/4 cups), at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cups apricot jam
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts, for garnish
For the Apricot Soaking Syrup:
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup very hot water
For the Faux Fondant:
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk, plus 2-3 tablespoons more if needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Cut the hazelnut cake into 4 even strips, 4 inches wide. Trim the edges of the cake if necessary.
To make the Apricot Soaking Liquid, combine 1/2 cup apricot jam with 1/4 cup hot water and mix well.
To make the buttercream, combine the butter, salt, vanilla, almond extract, and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a tabletop mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin beating on low speed until everything is combined then increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy.
Add the pastry cream, a few tablespoons at a time. It is very important to make sure that the pastry cream has come to room temperature. This can be done by microwaving it or warming over a double boiler. If the pastry cream is cold, the butter will solidify and will produce a very lumpy buttercream.
Beat the buttercream until it is completely smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
To make the Faux Fondant Icing, combine the confectioner's sugar, milk, and butter in a bowl, and whisk together until smooth. If the mixture is still clumpy and dry, add some more milk. Just add enough that it is easy to whisk. Adding too much liquid will cause the fondant to become translucent. Set aside.
Carefully melt the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Place the melted chocolate in a piping bag and but a very small opening at the bottom.
Warm the 1/4 cup apricot jam so that it spreads easily onto the cake.
To assemble the cake, spread the apricot jam onto one strip of cake. Pour the faux fondant over the jam.
Pipe 4-5 thin lines of chocolate the length of the cake. Using a toothpick, create a feathered effect with a toothpick, by drawing lines the opposite direction of the chocolate. (see video)
Place one of the cake layers on a serving dish lined with some strips of parchment all around the edges.
Brush with the apricot liquid. Pipe one third of the buttercream over it.
Repeat these steps with the other two layers, saving a little buttercream to lightly spread on the sides of the cake.
Place the fondant covered strip of cake on top.
Spread the remaining buttercream all around the sides of the cake and press the almond slices onto the cake.
Allow the cake to set for at least one hour or up to overnight before slicing. This can be done by chilling it in the refrigerator.
This cake tastes best at room temperature.
chocolate buttercream: add 7 ounces melted chocolate to the buttercream and beat until smooth
chocolate hazelnut buttercream: add 1/2 cup or more Nutella or your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread to the buttercream and beat until smooth
raspberry buttercream: add 1/3 cup or more raspberry preserves to the buttercream and beat until smooth
cherry buttercream: add 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry liquid to the buttercream
Add thinly sliced strawberries in between the cake layers, under the buttercream