Monday, December 27, 2010
This very pretty cake has a special place in my repertoire, being the very first thing I ever baked for my wife. At the time, there was no knowing that one of her favourite nuts was the hazelnut, so proving a fortuitous choice, no?
The funny thing is though, that first one is not the same as the one I bake today, through a simple error of not following the recipe instructions exactly; however, the resulting cake turned out much better than the original.
It transpired I'd forgotten to halve the fat enriched dry mixture, used to line the baking tin as a base for the cake batter, made with the other half and all the wet ingredients.
This mistake of a cake had a much nicer crumb, quite dense but also very moist and heady with the rich spice like character of brown sugar
The other deviation, made on purpose this time, was instead of coarsely chopping the nuts, each one was painstakingly cut in half, dramatically lifting the presentation.
(adapted from La Tante Claire by Pierre Koffmann)
300g brown sugar
240g plain flour
130g cold unsalted butter, cut into rough chunks
240ml sour cream - I use continental style, about 20% fat
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
200g hazelnuts, lightly roasted, skinned, each one cut in half or just coarsely chopped
Line a 24cm springform cake tin with baking paper and generously butter.
In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and flour and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Spread half the mixture in the cake tin if you want to follow the original recipe, or simply whisk the sour cream, baking powder and egg and add to the bowl containing the pastry mixture, mixing well. Pour this into the cake tin and spread evenly. Evenly sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts and bake in a 180c oven for about forty minutes.
Leave to cool in the tin, then invert onto a plate, so that the hazelnut topping is uppermost, sprinkle with some icing sugar.