hazelnut layer cake
Prep: 35-40min (frosting) | Baking: 20min
(for layer cake using 17cm diameter tins, ca. 6 slices. Double the ingredients for standard large tins)
For the cake:
100g butter, room temp
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For the buttercream meringue:
2 tsp hazelnut butter**
6 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread
2 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
115g butter, chopped into 1 tbsp chunks and returned to the fridge
1/8 tsp salt
Chocolate sprinkles of choice and/or hazelnut croquant, ca. 3-4 tbsp
Wipe your hand whisk, electric whisk, and electric hand mixer (or standing mixer) utensils with lemon juice to ensure there is no grease. A single drop of grease or yolk will ensure the frosting never stiffens.
Bring a pot with ca. 1cm water to a simmer, and place the egg whites and caster sugar in a glass or metal bowl over it, like you do when melting chocolate. Use the hand whisk to mix constantly until the sugar dissolves, and the mix is less goopy and more like sirup, 4-5 min.
Remove the bowl from the heat, and use the electric hand mixer to whip the syrup into a meringue. It takes between 15-20min. I took a break 10min in, putting the bowl in the fridge for 5 min. My meringue had stiff peaks in the bowl, but on the mixer the peaks still curled down.
Halfway through mixing (while meringue is resting in fridge if doing that step), take the butter out of the fridge. Set aside as you return to mixing the meringue.
Once stiff (in the bowl), switch to the electric hand mixer (if using a standing mixer, change from whisk to paddle attachment). Add the butter, one chunk at a time. This is what stiffened my meringue into a thick buttercream.
Lastly add the salt and hazelnut butter.
Set buttercream frosting in the fridge until the cake layers have cooled from the oven.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cream butter and sugar using a mixer. Add vanilla sugar, eggs, half the flour, the milk, the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Spoon batter into each layer cake tin equally. Bake 20 min, then remove from the oven. After 5 min or so, remove cakes from their tins and place on a wire rack to cool.
Add a thin layer of chocolate hazelnut spread on the bottoms of the cake layers that will connect, then spread 2-3 tsp buttercream meringue on each top, pressing each layer down gently. Spread buttercream meringue on the outside of the cake, then sprinkle with grated milk chocolate/ hazelnut croquant.
** Hazelnut butter:
1 cup raw hazelnuts
1/4 tsp salt
To remove the dark brown skins of the hazelnuts, preheat oven to 190°C. Add a sheet of baking paper onto a tray and spread the hazelnuts on top. Bake 10-12min.
Remove from oven, and place the roasted nuts into a dish cloth. Gather all the ends of the cloth in one hand so the nuts are secured in a bunch with no escaping, and then use your other hands to shake the bulge, which encourages the roasted skins to flake off the hazelnuts. Shake thoroughly, then open the dishcloth. Most of the skins will have fallen away, but some will require you to scrape off the skins by hand.
To make the butter, either:
collect nuts into a food processor, blitz until they are a crushed into a powder, and then continue to process them so that their natural oils are released and a butter is created. Add the salt, and pulse a few more times. Ready!
collect nuts into a masticating juicer, making sure to use the correct filters/ funnels (I use an Omega Juicer, so the inner funnel-like piece needs to be the one without the strainer, i.e. the black one that doesn't have a metallic section). The hazelnuts need to go through the juicer 2-3 times at which point it starts to look a little comical as the powder becomes a paste (like your juicer is taking a poo!). Mix in the salt. Ready!
I like to only store half the hazelnut butter as is, for frosting flavouring, or adding 2tbsp coconut butter to it to make it more spreadable.