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Toasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

Oh the smell of toasting Hazelnuts! Not only is this one of the most moist, delicious cakes I have ever had the pleasure of making and tasting, but it also leaves your home smelling all nutty and divine. As caking making goes, I admit this is a little more involved than most and if you don’t have a stand mixer then you should limber up for a bit of an arm workout, but the finished product is so worth it.  In fact I had a fair bit of explaining to do when I turned up to a friends birthday party on Saturday evening with said cake in hand minus one medium sized slice – of course I blamed it on needing to photograph it for the blog and capture the nut texture throughout. The blushing only arose when someone then helpfully pointed out that I could just have replaced it, given it another swift dust of icing sugar and no-one would have been any the wiser in the low lighting…  What can I say, it was the first time I had made it and I just wanted to check that it was indeed as perfect as it looked before sharing!

Credit where credit is due, I need to thank Chris, my mum’s cousin (I have never quite worked out what that makes us), for the introduction to this delectable number and well, whilst no good deed should go unreturned, if you’ve ever thought you might one day like to find yourself a beautiful French idyll then let me pass you on to the experts at A House in France.

Also just to note Mel & I have realised we are on a bit of a sweet trail at the moment with GF&H, so to rectify that we will be posting a host of savoury delights very soon.

Toasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

Serves 8 or more with slightly less generous slices

5oz/ 140g skinned Hazelnuts
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder (Green & Blacks is my preference)
2oz/ 60g plain flour
1oz/ 30g self-raising Flour
6oz/ 185g Soft Brown Sugar
9oz/ 250g unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, separated (you need both the whites & yokes)
Icing sugar for dusting

Spread your Hazelnuts onto a baking tray and toast under a hot grill, make sure you keep an eye on them and turn/shake regularly so that they get an even golden toast and then leave to one side to cool before blitzing roughly in a food processor (or chopping / bashing by hand), just don’t overdo it and make them too fine or they will become oily, besides some chunky bits are great for texture. Transfer to a bowl and sift in the flours and cocoa powder before mixing well.

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/ 350F or Gas mark 4.

In a second bowl, beat together the sugar and the butter until very creamy and then add the egg yolks one at a time mixing well after each addition, add in the hazelnut and flour mix and stir well (it may seem a little dry at this point, but you are right on track). Then take a clean glass or ceramic bowl and whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, before folding bit by bit into the main nutty mixture.

Finally pour into an 8 inch sprung cake tin, which has had a quick wipe round with butter, and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer or knife blade inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before releasing the cake from the tin and allow to cool.

Dust with icing sugar before serving and enjoy the wonderful Hazelnut aroma. – Lorna

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