The verdict is in: “Silvia, your best one yet!” Word of mouth travelled fast today at work, and by 2:30pm there was not much left of the hazelnut cake. I had even cut myself 2 slices to save for later, which I rarely do because as usual I bake a mini-cake for myself (but it was without the glaze!).
I agree, this is wonderful cake which I have loved since childhood, but I must give credit solely to my late aunt’s recipe. She is really my mom’s aunt, so more like a grand-aunt to me. She would be 100 years old this year if she would be still alive, but I am sure she still watches closely when I make this cake. I am also sure she was delighted today to see that her recipe has still so many (new) fans and happy bellies. She was a proud, accomplished baker, and her cakes are legendary.
I must note that the ‘it’ factor of this cake is also due to a uniquely spiced Austrian rum, the Strohrum, which my aunt always used and I use, too. The cake is just not the same without it. Typically, I buy the rum over the internet (e.g. wineglobe.com). It is not cheap, it is also 180 proof (but there are lower proof versions, which work just as well, it is really the spiced taste of the rum that makes the difference --- anyone who ever skied in the Austrian Alps will have had this rum in the “Grog” that is served in the ski huts). The rum lasts a long time and it is my secret weapon for many baked goods, chocolate mousses, and mulled wine in the winter.
So here it is, my Aunt Jenny’s hazelnut cake recipe.
Aunt Jenny’s Hazelnut Cake
- 200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 250 g organic cane sugar
- 4 very large or 5 large free-range organic eggs, at room temperature
- a pinch of salt
- 200 g hazelnut meal (finely ground hazelnuts)
- 100 g bittersweet dark chocolate, grated or chopped into tiny cubes
- 2 TB Strohrum (or 3 TB warm milk)
- 2 TB warm milk
- 1 ts vanilla extract
- 250g all-purpose flour
- 1 ts baking powder
Preheat the oven to 360F. Spray a baking form (bundt cake pan or a large enough rectangular bread loaf pan) with baking spray. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment whisk the butter and the sugar until well-combined and slightly foamy. Add one egg at a time and combine well. Add the pinch of salt, the rum, the vanilla and the milk, and let it be whisked together. Now, add the hazelnut meal, large spoonfuls at a time, and let it combine with the standmixer continuously running. Once all the hazelnut meal is integrated, add the grated chocolate.
Mix the flour with the baking powder, and turn off the standmixer. Then add in a 1/4 of the flour. Turn on the mixer on very slow until the flour is integrated in and turn in the speed to the 2-3 setting. Add in all the flour this way, but avoid over mixing.
Fill the batter into the cake pan, and bake at 360F for ca 55min. Let the cake cool in the cake pan for 15min, then gently flip on a cooling rack, and let cool completely.
Home-made chocolate glaze:
- 200 gr bittersweet chocolate chips
- 4 TB unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons warm milk
- 1 TB Strohrum
- 1 ts vanilla
Pour the chocolate chips in a glass bowl or a ceramic bowl, and set it over a pot with boiling water on the stove (the bowl should not touch the water!). Stir continuously until the chocolate chips start to melt. Add in the butter, and melt it with the chocolate chips. Once it is all a creamy, lump-free consistency, add in the milk, the rum and the vanilla extract. Once incorporated, take the bowl off the pot, and continue to stir while adding in the confectioners sugar. Keep stirring. Place the cooled cake on a baking rack on top of a baking sheet lined with paper, and using a brush generously “paint” the cake with the chocolate glaze. The glaze will thicken when cooled, and it is great to have a 1/4 of an inch thick glaze on the cake.
Let cool and dry for about 4-5h before serving. The cake actually tastes better with time; at the beginning it is dry and light and slightly crumbly, and after a week it becomes moist with an intense nutty flavor. It should be stored cool and airtight.