Hazelnut cake is a classic recipe for the fall and winter, but it is, of course, delicious all year around. It is a very nostalgic cake to me as throughout my young age, there was more often than not one „Nusskuchen“ (hazelnut cake) adorning the „Kaffeetafel“ (traditional afternoon coffee time in Germany during which cakes and coffee and tea are being served) as family parties assembled or children’s birthdays were to be celebrated .
Despite the nostalgia, I deviated from the typical pound cake recipes that are usually used in Germany for hazelnut cakes and instead, challenged myself into realizing this French sponge cake. Why? Well, it has to do with my not very happy relationship with sponge cakes – I kind of mess them up more often than not. So I just need to go on trying (this recipe actually took me two attempts). And, of course, I love French pâtisserie. And, finally, because I made the German version only the other week… sadly (or not?), it had somewhat magically disappeared before I had the chance to take any pictures. Which does not mean that I have doubts that the same fate is imminent for the cake in this recipe – I just tried it… 🙂
Ingredients (for a Ø 20 cake pan):
- 125 grams of ground hazelnuts
- 110 grams of butter
- 2 tablespoons of hazelnut oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of creamed honey (preferably buckwheat)
- 4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
- 130 grams of brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 tablespoons of hazelnut liqueur or dark rum
- 60 grams of flour
- 1 package of baking powder (14 grams)
- For decoration (optional): 1 tablespoon of icing sugar, some caramelized hazelnuts (see here for a recipe: Baking Basics: Caramelized nuts)
- Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
- Spread the ground hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Shift regularly.
- At the end of the oven time, remove from the oven and let cool down. Increase the oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius.
- In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once completely melted, increase the temperature to medium to high. Sear the butter until it just starts browning, then remove from the heat immediately. Add the hazelnut oil and the honey and mix well (be careful – the butter is very hot). Let cool down.
- Beat the egg whites with 30 grams of the sugar until stiff peaks form (should not be too firm, though). Set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks together with the rest of the sugar, the salt and the seeds from the vanilla pod until creamy and light.
- Then gently fold in the ground hazelnuts (should have cooled down completely), then the butter and honey mix (cooled down or just slightly warm) and finally, the hazelnut liqueur or rum.
- Pass the flour and the baking powder through a fine mesh over the mixture and fold in gently.
- At the very end, carefully fold in the egg whites until you obtain a smooth batter.
- Pour into a buttered Ø 20 cake pan. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 50 to 60 minutes. Do not open the oven during this time, or you risk that the cake collapses!
- You can use the baking time to prepare the caramelized hazelnuts. For a recipe, see here: Baking Basics: Caramelized nuts.
- Let cool down completely. Before serving, dust with some icing sugar and decorate with caramelized hazelnuts (optional).