Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Hazelnut Torte

It's our birthday! Almost everyone in my sweetie's side of the family has a birthday in either July or August, so once a year we have a joint party to celebrate everyone's birthdays. I was elected to make the cake this year.

This is probably my favourite cake of all time. It can also be gluten and dairy-free (although the icing is another question, and providing you use oil instead of butter to grease the pans.) To make it gluten free, check your baking powder to make sure yours is gluten free, and then replace the flour with 1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch and 1 tablespoon fine rice flour in each layer. It may come out a little flatter than with wheat flour, but will otherwise be just fine.

You can buy hazelnuts that have been ground already - maybe. I tried to buy some for this cake at Bulk Barn and discovered they only carry them closer to Christmas, so I was obliged to grind my own. I was a bit concerned about this, but I was able to grind them in my food processor without difficulty. I first toasted the hazelnuts lightly in a dry skillet, then rubbed them in a tea-towel to remove some of the skins. Then I measured out 2 cups of hazelnuts and ground them. Somewhat to my surprise, they expanded as they were ground, and I ended up with more than 2 cups of ground hazelnuts, so once they are ground, you should re-measure them.

The hazelnuts after their first grinding
It's vital for this recipe that the hazelnuts be finely ground. If your cake sinks in the middle and it has been well baked, it is almost certain that the problem is that the nuts were not sufficiently finely ground. When I first started making this cake, I could use purchased ground hazelnuts without difficulty. Lately though, I have found that they need to be ground some more before proceeding with the cake.

The hazelnuts reground with the sugar
After the nuts have been ground and re-measured, add the sugar and grind them again. Or if you have bought ground nuts, measure and add the sugar and grind them both together. I find this is necessary for the sugar as well as the nuts since I use organic sugar which is quite coarsely granular.

The decorated hazelnut torte
Not surprisingly, the freshly ground hazelnuts made a particularly tasty cake. I put a layer of White Chocolate Frosting between the layers and on the top, and a layer of apricot purée in the middle. The whole cake was then frosted with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting, and decorated with some leftover ground and whole hazelnuts and chocolate syrup. I served Apricot Mousse and blackberries with the cake.

12 servings
50 minutes - 20 minutes prep time, does not include time to cool and decorate

Hazelnut Torte served with Apricot Mousse and Blackberries
2 cups ground hazelnuts (125 grams)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons unbleached pastry or other flour
2 pinches of salt
8 extra-large eggs

Butter 2 round 9" cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, butter it as well, then dust the pans with flour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put half of the hazelnuts, half of the sugar, half of the baking powder and half of the flour, and a pinch of salt into a food process. Process for several minutes - the hazelnuts should be as well-ground as you can get them.

Add 4 of the eggs and process again. Scrape out the batter into one of the prepared cake pans.

Wash and dry the food processor bowl and blade, and repeat the above steps with the remaining ingredients.

Place the two filled cake pans on a tray and place them gently in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown and firm, and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for about 15 minutes, then remove them from the pans to finish cooling.

Fill and ice the cakes as you like - I always seem to use a chocolate icing of some sort from a simple Cocoa Buttercream Frosting to the more elaborate White Chocolate Frosting and Chocolate Whipped Cream Icing I used this time. A layer of rasperry or apricot jam in the middle is good. I think a coffee-flavoured icing would be great, but I have never done it since my Sweetie doesn't like (hates, in fact) coffee.

Chocolate Glazed Hazelnut Torte with Marzipan Flowers
Here's a picture from another time I made this cake. The flowers on it are made of marzipan, rolled as thin as I could get it, then cut out with a simple scalloped flower cookie cutter and pinched into more three-dimensional shapes. Some of them were single cut outs, some two layers and a couple I think were even three layers of marzipan. Get a good Danish or German marzipan if you are going to do that - no sense in wasting time with the cheap stuff.


Anonymous said...

Wow, party time! How can a cake that looks that good be dairy free? Thanks for giving me the heads up for this recipe. I can definitely improvise an icing that is dairy free for this one. I only hope I can make it look as enticing as yours! Mmmm.

Anonymous said...

that torte sounds (and look!) absolutely delicious. i'm going to have to give it a go and pray that it comes out looking almost as good as yours :)

Elly said...

What a great looking cake!! By the way, Happy Birthday Jenny! I hope you are doing well?