One of the (maybe the only) downsides of baking French pastries is the sheer amount of egg yolks you need. Every recipe calls for more yolks than whites. Poor egg whites, so under appreciated.. I decided to find a cake where they can be given a central stage as part of my ‘use all, waste nothing’ policy in the kitchen.
I found the recipe on one of my favourite cooking blogs – smitten kitchen. It does not look special, but the taste is anything but ordinary. It is incredibly light, with a very nutty taste and aroma. I would use it as a base for tiramisu or a layered cake. I would, but the cake was quickly gone with just some sugar sprinkled on top and an espresso on the side..
The greatness of this cake comes with the combination of the toasted hazelnuts and brown butter. If you never tried brown butter before go ahead and make some. Eat it with anything (fresh made pasta, steamed veggies, roasted asparagus,you name it). It’s absolutely delicious! Browning the butter gives it a nutty aroma and flavour. No matter what you use it with, it will make it taste better. Just give it a try.
Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
adapted from smitten kitchen
- 150 g of hazelnuts,
- 225 g of butter,
- vanilla pod, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out,
- 150 g of powdered sugar,
- 75 g of flour,
- 6 large egg whites (Note: I use small eggs so I took 8 egg whites, in total 260 g),
- 45 g of sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast them for 5 minutes. Wrap them in a kitchen towel and after a couple of minutes rub the towel vigorously so that the brown skin comes off.
- Blend the hazelnuts and powdered sugar in a food processor. Add the flour and pulse a couple more times.
- Brown the butter. Put it on a medium heat in a pan with a heavy bottom with the vanilla seeds and the pod. The butter will melt and at some point will get very foamy. Wait until it subdues. Scrape the bottom with a spatula to make sure the butter browns evenly. Once it starts smelling nutty take it off the heat and cool. Discard the vanilla pod.
- Whip the egg whites with 45 g of sugar until they fold firm peaks.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients and the butter into the egg whites in small batches.
- Pour the mixture into a buttered 24 cm spring form or use a rectangular shape (Note: I used a 25 by 35 cm shape).
- Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 C for 40 minutes or until golden.
- Cool before serving.