From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Oregonians love hazelnuts. The nuts, also known as filberts, are a major crop in Oregon and, while they are expensive in other areas, that is not a problem for those of us who live here. We are close to the orchards where they are grown and manage to avoid the transportation cost that are factored into their market price. I've come to love hazelnuts and use them a great deal in my cooking. Their flavor is more subtle than that of a walnut or pecan and that makes them wonderful to use in desserts and sweet breads. I am always open to new recipes that use them and the one for this cake grabbed my attention when I stumbled on it. I found the recipe in an dog-eared copy of Food Editors' Hometown Favorites Cookbook and decided to give it a try. Before I get into particulars, I must tell you that while I think the cake is lovely, I found the frosting in this recipe to be cloyingly sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, I suspect you'll love it. If your tastes are more like mine, I think you'll find a less sweet icing more to your liking. The cake is light and fragrant and has a lovely crumb. The hazelnuts give it remarkable flavor that is heightened by using hazelnut, rather than vanilla, extract. This is not an easy cake to make and I would not attempt it without the assistance of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Is it worth the time and effort? The cake is nice, but I would take a pass on the icing. Speaking of which, the base recipe produces a cream colored frosting. I added some cocoa powder to it to make it more photogenic. When I first began this blog, I posted a recipe for a much simpler hazelnut cake that was finished with a nutella glaze. You can find that cake, here. I actually prefer it to the one I'm featuring tonight, but I'll let you be the judge. Here's how the cake is made.
Hazelnut Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Food Editor's Hometown Favorites Cookbook
2 cups sifted flour (sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup regular or butter flavored shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon hazelnut or vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup coconut (more if desired)
1 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Cream Cheese Icing
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces butter, room temperature
6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons hazelnut or vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Spray three 9-inch round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray. If using dark cake pans, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2) Combine already-sifted flour with baking soda and sift again. Stir in salt and set aside.
3) Beat egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff. Set aside.
4) Cream butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and beat for 3 to 5 minutes. Add hazelnut or vanilla extract, then add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5) Turn mixer speed to low. Add flour and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with flour. When batter is uniform, fold in the egg whites in three parts (this helps keep the batter airy). Stir in the coconut and hazelnuts.
6) Divide batter among all three pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in cakes comes out clean. Cakes will not dome. That is not a problem.
7) Prepare icing. Stir cream cheese, butter and some of the sugar together, then beat until smooth. Slowly add remaining sugar. Beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Spread icing between cake layers and on top of cake. Yield: 10 servings.
One Year Ago Today: Lemon Glazed Walnut Bars
Two Years Ago Today: Corn Soup a la Patricia Wells
Three Years Ago Today: Indian Dosas