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hungarian hazelnut torte

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Hungarian hazelnut cake

Okay – it’s gluten-free.

Not intentionally though. And I’m not going to advertise it as such.

I feel increasingly as if I’m getting so old-fashioned, I’ll be like Mrs Beeton soon. I’ve done plenty food fads in my time, God knows, but I don’t feel the slightest attraction to the current clean-eating, pegan or pagan, gluten/dairy/joy-free, kale-brandishing spiralizer brigade. I mean – really? Allergies aside, do we really want to consciously deprive ourselves of the nice things in life, for the scientifically unsound objective of living five minutes longer or sneezing half as often when we have a cold? I just don’t get it.

No one is going to convince me that courgette noodles taste like pasta. And why ruin perfectly nice spinach or cabbage by pulverising it? To take you back to the toddlerhood, because the resulting goo looks and tastes like baby food? What’s wrong with textures, biting and chewing? And don’t forget that fruit juices are actually actively bad, because they retain massive amounts of sugar without the goodness of the fibre.

So – there’s my little rant. There’s no quinoa or kale on my pages – or if they are, they will be in a rich company and not spiralized. And this – is just a fantastically nice cake that incidentally happens to be flourless, just so, and anyone will completely love it, gluten-shy or not.

Unless you have a nut allergy.

hungarian hazelnut torte

Servings: 12-14Time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • For the cake:
  • 340g hazelnuts, toasted with skin on
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 egg whites
  • For the buttercream:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 180g icing sugar
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 50g ground blanched hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds
  • a few tablespoons of apricot jam
  • chocolate whirls or coarsely grated dark chocolate, to garnish


METHOD

1. Toast the hazelnuts in a medium oven for 10-15 minutes, until they are fragrant and the skins start to crack. Grind them to a fine powder in a food processor or a nut grinder. You might add a teaspoon of flour to the mix to stop the nuts from clumping as they grind, unless you want to remain completely gluten-free. Stir the baking powder into the ground nuts and keep to one side.

2. Prepare a 23cm round cake tin by buttering and flouring it thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.

3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the hazelnut mix. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with a balloon whisk until stiff peaks form. Add a third of the egg whites to the nut batter to loosen it up, then fold in the rest of the egg whites taking care not to deflate it much. Make sure though that no lumps of nut mix remain.

4. Transfer it to the cake tin and bake for about 60 – 70 minutes until the top springs back when gently pressed. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, unmold and cool completely on a wire rack.

5. While the cake is cooling prepare the buttercream: beat the butter with a hand or in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment until fluffy, keep beating while you add the icing sugar in three or four batches. Add the lemon juice at the end.

Almond buttercream

6. Toast half the amount of ground nuts or almonds in a dry frying pan, tossing often, until coloured a little. Let them cool down and stir into the buttercream together with the untoasted nuts.

7. Slice the cake horizontally using a wire cake cutter (an awfully nifty contraption) or a very sharp knife.

Sliced hazelnut cake

8. Spread a little apricot jam over the bottom half, just to get rid of the crumbs, and spread the buttercream over it. Replace the top half and press gently. Spread another bit of the jam over the top and sprinkle the chocolate over it.

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