These days, everyone has allergies. Each menu has little letters to let you know if they’re gluten free, vegan, dairy free, vegetarian. There are whole cookbooks of allergy-free recipes. I even have a gluten free cookbook. For some reason, more and more people are allergic to ingredients most of us use every day. Parties or functions have to cater for intolerances and while this seems inconvenient, it’s not. The amount of new ingredients we have to cook with is fantastic, we should be trying things out, experimenting and seeing how we can help establish this new market of food.
All that being said, when our local Clandestine Cake Club released the theme for this month as “Gluten Free” it was a great opportunity to try out something different. The fact that we had our biggest attendance yet and more than a dozen different cakes was a fantastic surprise. No two cakes were the same, from a chocolate/coffee roulade, to an enormous apple cake, white chocolate and macadamia, even a polenta based cake, a raw one & a a cake made with coconut flour and sugar!
Gluten free really isn’t that big a deal any more. And as we discussed our experiences of gluten free baking we found out you can make your own gluten free flour by combining a number of others to create a flour you can use as regular flour. Besides all the weird and wonderful flours, a common cake base was nut meals, almonds, macadamias, and as you’ll see, hazelnut meal. Using nuts adds a richness and a texture which I find, simply delightful. The end product is a dense, moist cake you can’t help finishing.
According to the source of this recipe, it has been deemed “The best cake full stop“. That’s a pretty big call if you ask me. There are lots of cakes out there, you know! The truth is, I think she might be right. The entire cake went! So there were about 20 people there and that’s not the best indicator but it was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
Here, I’ll show you.
This cake starts with the eggs and vanilla, not butter and sugar. Weird, huh? Stick with me.
While they’re being whipped into frothy oblivion, why not forget you don’t have brown sugar at home and make your own? 1 cup white sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses + beat until it looks right = perfect brown sugar. Easy! (2 T of molasses for dark brown sugar)
Mix in all the things & you have a very thick batter that is difficult to not eat straight off the beater!
Spoon it into your cake tin and spread out evenly. See all those dark spots? I didn’t even skin the hazelnuts. No fuss!
Bake until the skewer test says it’s done. Honestly? I think this is just a little too easy for you guys. It looks a little dark on the sides, but trust me (and the rest of the Clandestine Cake Club attendants) it goes this delicious, nutty, caramelise-y and chewy and it is just. So. Yummy!! The really great thing about this cake is that it also doesn’t rise heaps. Gotta love a cake with a flat top without any of the effort!
Make your ganache. Please note that it’s good to do this before your house is full of guests, but if you like living on the edge, go nuts! Once it’s done, spoon it all over the cake. Our ganache was a little runny so it soaked into the cake and made it delightfully more-ish.
Yes, I know, it’s not the greatest photo. I guess that just means I’ll have to make it again! Life’s so tough. Secretly, just between you and me – I can’t wait!
Gluten Free Hazelnut Cake with Frangelico Ganache
- 150g hazelnut meal (if you can’t find it, use a food processor to finely chop the hazelnuts into meal)
- 150g almond meal
- 1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g butter, softened
- 100g dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 shots of frangelico
- Preheat your oven to 180 C (no fan), or 160 C (fan forced).
- Combine the nut meals and sugar in a bowl.
- Beat together the eggs and vanilla and until frothy and well combined.
- Add the butter and beat for a few minutes. It make look a bit odd due to the amount of liquid, but not to worry.
- Add your meal and sugar mix to the butter and eggs and beat until well combined.
- Pour into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tine and bake for 20 minutes, cover with foil to prevent burning the top and then cook for another 50-60 minutes. (The original recipe says it only needs 30-40 minutes total but mine took a lot longer.) Check at 10 minutes intervals. It’s done when a skewer comes out clean and the cake is pulling away from the sides.
- Take it out & let it cool.
- Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and pop into a heat proof bowl with the cream and Frangelico. Heat it over a barely simmering pot, stirring gently until it melts and is mixed together.
- Let the ganache cool before spooning it liberally over the cake. Make sure you’re working with a cool cake too.
Add the zest of three limes to the eggs and vanilla to add a subtle hint of summer.
If you don’t have Frangelico, that’s fine, you can leave it out altogether.