Hazelnuts arelike the prodigal son. When they make an appearance they get noticed. And arevery welcome. Particularly when they are toasted, which is almost alwaysas it’s a needed step to skin them.
Nuts in the ovenis a comforting smell that silently speaks of good baking things to come. Idon’t think I ever came across a recipe that wasn’t enhanced if the nuts weretoasted. And let’s not go into the salad department. That’s a whole other ballgame where the nuts can make a dish go up a few notches.
And the oils, theliqueurs, the butters, the creams that can be made with different nuts make medizzy with anticipation. It’s a whole nutty world that makes me very happy.
This specificcake was a request from one of my best friends for her birthday. She rememberedit after many years. So I happily obliged. Don’t worry, it wasn’t the birthdaycake. Thank goodness right? A loaf as a b-day cake? This was for herpersonal delight, far away from her kids who wouldn’t know a hazelnut froma cocoa puff. But I digress.
I bought Frangelico because the bottle was so nice. It has the shape of a monk and even comes with a rope belt. Through the years I came to realize how precious this liqueur is. This was certainly a cake worth splurging on. This is a dense pound cake, full of flavor, perfect for an afternoon tea. Or a cup of good coffee.
The smell of the batter alone is intoxicating,with the toasted nuts and the booze. Definitely, nuts and alcohol are a matchthat are part of an elite, a combination that has few rivals. At least in mybaking world.
This recipe is froma book that not only has pages of recipes that will get you into the kitchen asfast as you can, but it has an enormous amount of information on ingredientsand techniques. A one-of-a-kind cookbook. Worth every dime.
I made a slightchange and didn’t use hazelnut oil even though the recipe especially recommendsit. The idea of hunting for this particular oil went out the window when Ifound I still had some frangelico. It works so well for me that I don’t reallyknow when, and if, I will try the hazelnut oil variation. But I have a feelingit will add greatly to depth of flavor.
TOASTEDHAZELNUT POUND CAKE
from In the Sweet Kitchen, by Regan Daley
Note:The original recipe uses 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 Tbs. hazelnutoil. It also states that the oil is very perishable, so I exchanged it forFrangelico and decreased the vanilla
1 ½ cupshazelnuts, toasted and skinned (see below)
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 cup (225g) butter, at room tº
½ cup (100g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
4 eggs, at roomtº
½ teaspoonsvanilla extract
2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoonsbaking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbs Frangelico(hazelnut liqueur)
Preheat the ovento 350º. Butter and lightly grease a 9-inch (24cm) springform pan. Iused a loaf pan.
In a foodprocessor, pulse the toasted hazelnuts with 2 Tbs of the granulated sugar untilfinely ground. Take care not to overgrind the hazelnuts to the point where theybecome a nut butter, or the cake will be oily and heavy. Set the nut mixtureaside.
In the bowl of anelectric mixer, or a large bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter untillight, then add the remaining white and light brown sugars and cream themixture until it is light, pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, oneat a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping the sides of the bowlperiodically. Don’t worry if the mixture looks separated and broken; it willcome together when you add the flour.
Beat in thevanilla.
Sift the flour,baking powder and salt together. Add the nuts and mix well to combine. Add thisto the butter in three additions, alternating with the cream in two additions,beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until incorporated. Do not overmix.Add the hazelnut liqueur or the oil and mix well with a spatula.
Scrape the butterinto the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or 1 hour and 20minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched and a testerinserted in center comes out clean.
Transfer to awire rack and cool 20 to 30 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edge ofthe pan, remove the sides if using a springform or unmold if using a loaf pan.
Cool on a rackcompletely before serving or wrapping or storing.
This cake tastesbetter the second day and lasts up to 5 days.
Toskin hazelnuts: Spread hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan, singlelayer, and bake in a 350º oven, for about 7 to 10 minutes or until fragrant. Watchclosely, as they burn easily, and shake pan several times. The skins will beginto crackle. Transfer the toasted nuts to a bowl lined with a clean kitchentowel, bundle the nuts in the towel and set aside just until they are coolenough to handle. Rub the nuts briskly, then open the bundle and use yourfingers to rub the papery skins from the nuts. Don’t worry if some of the nutsrefuse to be totally skinned. Store in an airtight container.