This hazelnut cake recipe has been a total revelation to me. In the center of Italy, where I come from, this is not really typical.
Who knew that living in Brussels would allow me to meet two special people directly from Piedmont who would also help me enlarge my cooking repertory? My friends Mara and Paolo are always an amazing source of recipes from Piedmont and also Lombardy, where they studied and worked. That’s why I love to cook with them and learn directly from the source all sorts of regional dishes. Why just reading recipes on books when you have somebody who can show you the process?
The first time we made this torta di nocciole together was during a cooking session at my place. I prepared some snacks to eat as aperitivo, and my boyfriend provided us with some wine that his mother sent directly from Puglia. Sounds like heaven, right?
What I find amazing about this recipe is that it requires just three ingredients: sugar, eggs and ground hazelnuts, of course. My friends told me that another version of this cake also calls for flour and baking powder, but I was too curious to try the pure version, so we went for it. Luckily, I would say, because it was absolutely delicious.
Hazelnuts from Piedmont
I was so blessed because they brought me real hazelnuts from Piedmont. Don’t know if you are aware of this, but Piedmontese hazelnuts from the Cuneo area are among the best in the world for their organoleptic properties! They received the IGP (protected geographical indication) denomination and are also used to produce one of my worst addictions, aka Nutella. If these hazelnuts are out of your reach, use the best and freshest you can find; the success of your cake depends mostly on their quality.
Hazelnut cake origin
The hazelnut cultivation started in the Langhe at the end of the XIX century, when the peronospora – a vegetable disease – destroyed the vineyards and the rural population needed to find an alternative. As many other great dishes, this cake sees its origin in the poor and peasant Italian tradition, which I find to be the richest and the most precious.
Apart from the unmistakable aroma of roasted hazelnuts, this dolce is characterized by a dark ochre colour and a fluffy, friable and crumbly aspect; it is soft at the bite and a little dry. This last characteristic is also the reason why Piedmontese people usually accompany it with some zabaione. I wanna be totally honest about it: we actually started with the intention of making some too, but we lost ourselves into too much talking and wine, so we completely forgot it in the end! I wanted to eat the cake so badly – the smell of toasted hazelnuts really filled in the kitchen while the cake was in the oven – so I noticed we completely forgot zabaione just after the fourth slice. Yes, I ate four and I could eat more, don’t judge me!
Hazelnut cake recipe from Piedmont recipe
200 gr (1 and 1/4 cups) whole hazelnuts
200 gr (1 cup) brown sugar
Roast hazelnuts for about 5/7 minutes in the oven at 200 C/ 390 F. Turn off the oven and leave hazelnuts inside it for about 5 minutes.
Transfer them onto a kitchen towel and let them cool.
In the meantime heat the oven to 180C and butter a 23 cm/9 inch springform tin on the base and sides.
Gently rub the cooled hazelnuts in your hands to remove the skins and transfer them into a food processor with metal blade. Process the toasted hazelnuts until finely – but not too much – ground and set aside. They should look like this:
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside and mix the yolks together with the sugar in a big bowl until really creamy, thick and homogeneous. I used an electronic mixer at medium speed, but you can also use a hand mixer.
Using a silicone spatula, incorporate 90% of the ground hazelnuts to the yolk-sugar mixture and stir. At this stage, the texture should be sturdy and tough, a little bit like nougat. It is normal, no need to worry.
At this point, recuperate the whites you set aside and whisk them until they form stiff, firm peaks. Fold them gently into your batter, always using a silicone spatula. I describe how to fold eggs in this recipe.
When the whites look well incorporated and the batter is smooth, transfer it into the tin you previously prepared and decorate the surface with the 10% ground hazelnuts you saved.
Bake it for around 25-30 minutes, until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.
Transfer on a wire rack for about 15 minutes and let cool.
Move into a plate and serve it plain or with zabaione.
Little note : I love the fact that this cake is absolutely gluten free. I eat everything, but some friends of mine suffer of celiac disease or they are intolerant to gluten.This cake is really something on which everybody agrees!
Hazelnut cake from Piedmont recipe- Gluten free
My hazelnut cake recipe! Friable, crumbly and gluten free!Just three ingredients required.
- 200 gr (1 and 1/4 cups) whole hazelnuts
- 4 eggs
- 200 gr (1 cup) brown sugar
- Step 1 Roast hazelnuts for about 5/7 minutes in the oven at 200 C/ 390 F.
- Step 2 Turn off the oven and leave hazelnuts inside it for about 5 minutes.
- Step 3 Transfer them onto a kitchen towel and let them cool.
- Step 4 Heat the oven to 180C.
- Step 5 Butter a 23 cm/9 inch springform tin on the base and sides.
- Step 6 Gently rub the cooled hazelnuts in your hands to remove the skins.
- Step 7 Transfer them into a food processor with metal blade. Process the toasted hazelnuts until finely ground and set aside.
- Step 8 Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
- Step 9 Set the whites aside and mix the yolks together with the sugar in a big bowl.
- Step 10 Using a silicone spatula, incorporate 90% of the ground hazelnuts to the yolk-sugar mixture and stir.
- Step 11
- Step 12 Recuperate the whites you set aside and whisk them until they form stiff, firm peaks.
- Step 13 Fold them gently into your batter, always using a silicone spatula
- Step 14 Transfer the batter into the tin you previously prepared. Decorate the surface with the 10% ground hazelnuts you saved.
- Step 15 Bake it for around 25-30 minutes.
- Step 16 Transfer on a wire rack for about 15 minutes and let cool.
- Step 17 Move onto a plate and serve it plain or with zabaione.