Hungarian flourless hazelnut torte, light nutty sponge layers filled with simple hazelnut buttercream and topped with chocolate swirls. With a hint of apricot jam.
What’s Hungarian about this cake?
The cake is a riff on the famous, elaborate Esterházy torta, a cake invented and popularised in the times of Austro-Hungarian empire. It was named after Prince Paul Esterházy, a 19th century Hungarian aristocrat, him obviously of a sweet tooth.
This isn’t nearly the same confection: Esterházy torte has several layers and boozy buttercream filling. But the common element is the flourless hazelnut sponge, which might suggest the Prince was gluten intolerant, maybe? Just joking.
This, as mentioned, is a far more modest rendition and so I call it a Hungarian cake rather than Esterházy.
It is just two layers, filled with a simple nutty buttercream. Still, it’s delicious enough to tempt a prince, I promise.
How to make the hazelnut sponge?
Ground hazelnuts are not as easily available, at least in the UK, as almonds for instance. I guess ground almonds, or almond flour (which really is the same thing) is more commonly used in recipes.
But you can easily grind your own, using a food processor or a coffee grinder.
The latter does not even need to be meticulously cleaned before or after grinding the nuts: neither a little coffee flavour in the cake nor slight nuttiness to your next portion of coffee are anything bad.
If you grind your own hazelnuts, I advise to go for unblanched ones. The flavour and the colour in the baked sponge will be immeasurably better.
Mill them to as fine a powder as you can, adding a spoonful of flour to prevent producing hazelnut paste instead of flour.
Measure out a small portion for the buttercream and don’t fret about the flour addition – it won’t be at all discernible in the frosting.
The rest of the process is standard: beating egg yolks with sugar, adding the hazelnut mix to them, then folding in egg white meringue, stiff-beaten in a separate bowl.
This is a light, butterless sponge and not very sweet either, which is why the buttercream balances out the sugar content of the whole cake perfectly.
The easiest, simplest buttercream is made by beating softened unsalted butter until fluffy, then beating it with gradually added icing sugar, in a copious quantity. It is a buttercream after all, and if you cut down on the sugar, it will all disappointingly taste like butter.
The buttercream is made with the reserved ground hazelnuts and I like to toast them until crunchy and golden, for a boost in texture. You may use them as they are since they had been toasted whole in the first place, it’s entirely up to your preference.
Either way, the nuts are folded into the buttercream at the very end.
Assembling the cake
Cooled sponge should be sliced horizontally in half.
I am always reluctant to bake two separate sponge layers because sliced surface absorbs and melds with the filling much better than a crusty, separately baked layer.
It is easily done in this instance with either a cake wire, a large bread knife or simply a very sharp kitchen knife.
Once sliced, it is good to spread some apricot jam over the base, not just for an extra flavour hit but to smoothen the crumbs before adding the buttercream frosting.
The finishing touch is a little more jam spread over the top, so the decorative chocolate whirls, should you choose to sprinkle them, stick to the cake better.
More nutty cake recipes
Devil’s food cake with hazelnut praline and mascarpone cream is unbelievably good. Just the recipe for the next birthday occasion.
Flourless sponge cake with ground walnuts and a layer of apricot jam with grated dark chocolate topping: exquisite, elegant, delicious and gluten free.
Hazelnut ricotta cake with apricot and chocolate glaze is smooth with a poppy crunch, like velvet dipped in glitter. It is rich but tastes light, so you‘re tempted to have another slice.
More flourless cake recipes
Lemon polenta cake, tender and not too sweet, wonderfully crunchy on the bite. It’s gluten free, easy to whip up and it looks like a round of delicious sunshine on the plate.
King Oscar II cake is also known as Swedish almond tart. It's an almond macaron style cake filled with almond buttercream, easy to make and absolutely delightful.
Almond cake with fresh raspberries, flavoured with cinnamon and lemon zest. It’s flourless, dairy and gluten free, yet wonderfully airy and soft.