Thursday, January 21, 2010

Recipe: Apple & hazelnut cake with hazelnut streusel topping


We had a photographic shoot at the house today and I volunteered to cook the crew lunch to take my mind off the fact that for once I was going to be in front of the camera, not lurking behind it.

I wanted to make a cake for pudding and, as I haven't made one in a while, I poked around in the larder for inspiration. We had some dessert apples that were past eating best and I found a package of hazelnut flour from Dean & Deluca in New York


which turned out to be just ground hazelnuts. So apple & hazelnut cake seemed called for.

I couldn't find a recipe I liked anywhere, so I made one up. Of course, hazelnut flour is a bit rarified, and you could easily use ground almonds in their place.


Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350F.

You’ll need a nice deep Springform cake tin about 8” in diameter. I used a re-usable silicone tin liner from blessed Lakeland Plastics in the UK


so I didn’t need to grease my tin or start faffing around with scissors & greaseproof paper. Highly recommend. Otherwise, grease the tin, and faff around lining it with greaseproof paper.

Peel, core & chop the apples into small chunks. To stop them going brown, squeeze the lemon juice over and mix together.


You can do this next bit by hand but, seriously, unless you are looking for ways to incorporate exercise into every moment of your daily routine, use a Kitchen Aid, Magimix, hand mixer or similar. Life’s too short.

Put the butter and both sugars into the mixing bowl, and cream together. You are aiming for a light & fluffy start to the process.


Add the vanilla essence, and then one egg at a time, along with a spoonful of flour, to avoid the mixture curdling.

Then add the rest of the flour a heaping spoonful at a time with the mixer still on, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients: cinnamon, hazelnut flour & baking powder.


If using a Magimix scoop out the batter into a bowl and add the apple pieces. Fold them all together. If using a Kitchen Aid or hand mixer just add the apples to the mixing bowl & incorporate. Don’t worry if the mixture is stiffer than you would want in normal cake. You need it like that as the apples will leach their juice during baking. Mix really well so the apple is distributed throughout the cake batter.


Then pour the mixture into the lined cake tin.

Lick out cake bowl.

Try to ensure you get the tin liner the same height all round, unlike me, and make sure the top of the cake mixture is level-ish, (use a spatula or back of a spoon).


then mix together the streusel topping and sprinkle over the top. Don’t worry about it clumping. This is good as it will make for crunchy bits.

Pop in oven for 45 minutes. I find that the top browns very quickly, so I add a piece of paper over the top of the cake at this point and then cook for a further 15 minutes for an hour total.

Test the cake for done-ness at 45 minutes with a skewer. If the cake is cooked, the skewer will come out clean. Test in several places around the centre of the cake because if you hit a piece of apple the skewer will come out pretty clean giving a false positive so to speak. If there is any hint of batter on the skewer it needs more cooking.

When you think the cake is done, remove the tin from the oven, undo the Springform clip & remove the side ring, and gently slide the cake from the metal base onto an airing rack to cool.


I’m a big fan of these large offset spatulas from Williams Sonoma in the US which make transferring a cake from the floor of the Springform to a rack a, erm, piece of cake.


Then sift icing sugar over the top:


Then feed your cake to hungry people:


450g apples you can use cookers such as Bramleys or any eaters
Juice of half a lemon
225g butter
175g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence - do not substitute flavouring. Better to use nothing.
3 eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
30g ground hazelnuts (UK) or hazelnut flour (US)

1 x 8" Springform cake tin
Greaseproof paper & butter for greasing or silicone tin liner
Airing rack

plus 2 x tablespoons of hazelnut flr, 2 x tbsp of soft brown sugar 1 x tbsp melted butter & a tsp of cinnamon mixed together for the streusel cake topping