Thursday, August 26, 2010

A late summer Hazelnut Cake (gluten free)

While I love inventing my own recipes, I usually try and stay away from creating baked goods completely from scratch. When you're cooking away on the stovetop, you can just keep adding to the dish until it's just right. It doesn't work that way with baked goods. You can't exactly decide to add more baking soda after you pull it out of the oven, right?

So I didn't exactly have high hopes for this cake for a number of reasons:

  1. I completely made up the recipe for the batter and then just threw it in the oven while crossing my fingers.

  2. It's gluten free, which usually means the chances of it turning out are slimmer.

  3. For that matter, it doesn't contain any grain-based flour whatsoever.

  4. Did I mention I didn't know what I was doing with proportions when I threw together the batter?

Rest assured, I was shocked when it turned out delicious. Like, really really delicious.

Anyway, this cake is made entirely with hazelnut flour, Well, there's other stuff in there, but that's the only type of flour.

You could replace it entirely with almond flour which is becoming much more mainstream and thus easier to find (Bob's Red Mill, Trader Joe's, etc.) or you can grind up hazelnuts to the texture of flour (using a food processor or good blender). If you do this, grind it in small increments so that it's easier to control and prevent it from being overground into hazelnut butter. (Mmm...hazelnut butter!)

Okay, enough already, what's the cake taste like?

Well, it has a perfectly cake-like texture. Which, once again, might not be so amazing under normal circumstances, but considering it's made entirely from nut flour is quite an accomplishment (at least in my book). It's got a strong taste of hazelnuts and is somewhat reminiscent of a spice cake. Of course you could add cocoa powder to the mix and turn it into a chocolate hazelnut affair. Yum!

Onto the recipe already!

In a mixing bowl, place 1.5 cups hazlenut flour. (Did I mention Bob's Red Mill sells hazelnut flour?)

Oh yeah, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I always forget to do that ahead of time!

Add 1.5 tsp of baking soda.

Plus 1/4 tsp salt.

Feel free to up this to 1/2 tsp if you're using a coarser salt, or if you really like the sweet-salty combo.

Add any spices you desire (or feel free to leave them out completely).

I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice.

(I was intrigued when I first found out allspice is not a combination of spices.)

If you're going to go the chocolate hazelnut route, add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder here.

In another bowl place 4 eggs.

Add 1/4 cup of a mild flavored oil (such as canola, walnut, sunflower, or vegetable oil).

Whip it all together!

Just to mix it of course, this isn't quite the arm workout of whipping whipped cream by hand.

Add 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp white vinegar.


If you're using almond flour and want to play up the almond flavor , I would recommend adding 1 tsp almond extract here - yum!

Remember those whisking skills? Use them again.

Now butter and sugar a 9 inch (or so) cake pan...or pie plate if you're like me.

This just involves buttering the pan, adding 2 tbsp or so of sugar, and swirling the sugar around until it coats the pan.

I recommend doing this over the sink. Trust me.

Your cake pan or pie plate should now look all sparkly like this.

It's the small things in life.

Back to the batter! Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients....

...and stir!

As with all cakes, muffins, and brownies, try and keep the stirring to a minimum. Just until it all comes together and there aren't (too many) dry clumps.

Pour into the prepared dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Ta da! I recommend letting it cool at least a little before you attempt to slice it. This cake stays together remarkably well (considering it's gluten free) but as with all cakes, is a bit crumbly if you try and cut it too soon out of the oven.

Now this cake is delicious as is, or feel free to doll it up with chocolate sauce, caramel, or fruit.

I cut a slice, added some peaches and blueberries and dolloped with sour cream. Yum!

If you think sour cream is weird, just remember how delicious strawberries are with sour cream and brown sugar. If you don't know how delicious strawberries are dipped in sour cream and then coated in brown sugar, then you should immediately stop reading and go try the combination!

Of course you could also just top the cake with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Here's the concise recipe:

Hazelnut Cake

1.5 cups hazelnut flour (or almond flour)
1,5 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp allspice (optional)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup oil (such as canola, walnut, or vegetable)
1/2 tsp white vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
Butter and sugar (for coating the pan)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and sugar a 9 inch (or so) cake pan.

Mix together the hazelnut flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In another bowl mix together the eggs, oil, vinegar, and brown sugar.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

Bake 25 minutes. Let cool. Enjoy!