This is a German recipe, and one of my favorite cakes ever. The taste of this thing is so ridiculous that it makes most other cakes look like sad, flavorless lumps of coagulated flour. I didn’t appreciate this cake at all as a kid, shunning it in favor of cakes packed with colorful fruits and chocolate. While I still appreciate a good colorful fruit filling in a cake, I’ve learned the error of my ways when it comes to this particular confection.
This recipe can be made with practically any nut. I used pecans because my husband’s family gave us a massive bag of fresh ones, but the most authentic choice is hazelnut. I’d argue it’s also the tastiest.
150g (5.3 oz) butter, softened
150g (5.3 oz) sugar
3 tbsp rum, or 1 tsp rum extract
4 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 pinch salt
125g (4.5 oz) ground nuts
100g (3.6 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
125g (4.5 oz) finely chopped or ground nuts
950ml (1 quart) heavy cream
75g (2.75 oz) powdered sugar
4 teaspoons gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water by weight, heated and stirred until sugar dissolves)
2 tbsp rum
Whole or ground nuts*, chocolate**, or whatever else you’d like to use for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F or 175°C and lightly grease a round 8″ pan. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add egg yolks, then ground nuts, then rum.
2. Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined.
3. Whip egg whites to medium peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
4. Bake cake for approximately 30 minutes, or until middle springs back when touched. Turn out onto wire rack and allow to cool slightly. Wrap in saran wrap while still warm. Once cooled completely, split cake into two layers and re-wrap if you aren’t filling it immediately.
6. Bloom gelatine for five minutes in cold water. Whip quart of heavy cream to soft peak. Add in powdered sugar and whip to stiff peaks. Do not over-whip.
7. Gently heat gelatine until just dissolved, then quickly fold into whipped cream. Divide the whipped cream evenly into two bowls. Fold nuts into one half.
8. Mix rum with simple syrup. Place one cake layer on your cake board and gently brush top with syrup, taking care to add a bit more to the sides, which tend to get dry.
9. Load about 2/3 of the nut whipped cream onto the middle of the cake layer and spread it evenly. The layer should be about as thick as the cake layers themselves (which is to say, really thick). Use the rest of the hazelnut cream to coat the outside of the cake and lock in any crumbs.
10. Use remaining plain whipped cream to ice the cake and pipe adornments. I like grinding some more nuts and covering the sides in it, personally. You can never go wrong piping rosettes and topping them with nuts or chocolate!
*If they aren’t roasted yet, roast all your nuts before use! If you’re grinding your own, roast them before you grind. Pop them in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes until they smell yummy and toasty. Let them cool and proceed with the recipe.
**If you don’t have the time (or desire) to temper chocolate for garnish, melt your chocolate in the microwave and add in a tiny bit of canola oil (1 tsp per 1 cup chocolate chips is a good ratio). Mix it up and pipe your garnishes on some parchment. It’ll be a tad softer than tempered chocolate, but it’ll look even and hold up pretty well.
Yields: 1 8″ round layered cake, serves 8-12 depending on how you slice it.