Thursday 2 April 2015

chocolate hazelnut sponge

It's April already! Can you believe it? Things have been a bit hectic since I last posted waaaay back in November, hectic and stressful. We renovated the house, in November and December I worked a few days a week in an amazing bakery, there was Christmas, a ski trip in Canada... Well, I'm back, it was my birthday at the weekend, so here I am with cake.

Chocolate and hazelnut are such a perfect combination, so hard to beat. I probably make a version of this cake every year.  This year the sponge is light, the filling is rich and there are flowers, flowers, it's just so pretty. There are also cupcakes, bunnies bathing in salted caramel atop pillowy buttercream mounds, it's almost Easter, so totally excusable. Hopefully I'll get around to posting them too, if only that delicious, evil sauce.

I used to be really suspicious of social media, of meeting people online, particularly meeting people online, I'm a child of the seventies... How can it be safe? How? I took a "real life, met in the traditional manner" friend along to my first instameet. Instagram has been amazing, I've met so many lovely, incredibly talented people. 

Before it was my birthday cake, this cake was a tempting prop. My totally sane, new insta friend Rebecca from Chu Chu came over with her beautiful ceramics, the lovely Emma brought foraged flowers and styling awesomeness, we hung out, took photographs and ate cake.

chocolate hazelnut sponge

165g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
50g ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal)
80g butter  
7 jumbo, or 8 large, eggs at room temperature
200g sugar
150g hazelnuts, roasted and skinned (see below)

• preheat oven to 160ºC, butter and flour two 20cm cake tins
• melt the butter in a small pan over a gentle heat, allow to cool (feel free to use the microwave, if a small child hasn't set fire to it attempting to pop corn...)
• tip flour, cocoa powder and ground hazelnuts into a food processor, blitz for 30 seconds then repeat
• sieve the mixture over a large bowl, if there is more than a teaspoon of nut rubble left in your sieve, repeat the processing stage, sieve your nut/flour/cocoa mix twice more
• using an electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer so you don't run the risk of RSI, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and thick, this will take between 6 and 8 minutes...
• sift a third of the flour mix over the eggs/sugar, fold in gently using a metal spoon; repeat twice more with the remaining flour then
gently fold in the melted butter, make sure to lift the mixture from the bottom of the bowl as the butter will pool there
• divide your mix evenly between the tins, bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, when cooked the cake will have shrunk away from the side of the tin, the centre will spring back when gently pressed
• gently run a knife around the inside of the tins and turn the cakes onto a cooling rack
to roast your hazelnuts; tip the nuts onto a baking tray and pop them into the oven after you remove the cake, roast for 10-15 minutes until the skins have darkened and started to split. Place the nuts in a clean tea towel, gently rub the together. Remove as much of the skin as possible, it can taste bitter

ganache filling

175g dark chocolate
125ml cream

• finely chop the chocolate, put into a small heatproof bowl
• heat the cream in a small pan until just simmering, simmer for 1 minute then pour over the chocolate, do not stir, let stand for 5 minutes
• stir cream and chocolate until smooth and glossy
• cool at room temperature until it is thick enough to pipe, think smooth peanut butter; you can put it in the fridge to speed the process up, but the ganache will lose some of its gloss

cream filling

300ml whipping cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
30ml frangelico

combine ingredients in a bowl and whip until thick, soft and pillowy

to construct the cake

• set aside 2 tablespoons of roasted hazelnuts, roughly chop half
• choose the neatest cake, keep this for the top layer
• place the bottom cake layer on your serving plate, spread with a thick layer of ganache (reserving some for decoration) then scatter over the whole hazelnuts
• spoon roughly 2/3 cream onto the centre of your cake, gently spread outwards, stopping just short of the edge; when you add your top layer it will squish the cream to the edge
• gently top with the other layer, bottom side up
• dust with cocoa; decorate using the remaining ganache, chopped and whole hazelnuts and any flowers you are confident will not poison your guests!I piped little mounds of ganache in a rough crescent, sprinkled the chopped then whole nuts around and between, finally adding some violas from the garden.
• serve with a scoop of ice-cream and any left over cream.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Sal 💝 Emma Langford xxxx

simmer and boyle said...

Thanks so much Emma! Would love to catch up...

Unknown said...

Just stumbled on your blog. Absolutely beautiful! I'm slightly envious of all your gorgeous baking tins (especially your new one from Japan).

simmer and boyle said...

Deborah thank you! I have a collecting problem :) would love another Madeleine shell tray from Japan, 6 cakes are just not enough...