Apologies for my writing hiatus as of late, as some of you may or may not know from my instagram I was eating my way around America for the last couple of weeks. But, to make it up to you I have one of the best cakes I’ve made to date – Coffee & Hazelnut Praline cake! It’s a relatively simple cake to put together and of course can be made without praline but trust me – it’s worth the little extra time it takes. If you were to leave the praline out, you could decorate with roasted pecans or walnuts or even dip them in caramel for a shiny finish.
Anyhoo, I’ll stop babbling and give you the recipe to this beauty….
225g (8oz) soft salted butter
225g (8oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 generous tbsp Irel coffee essence
(Note: Irel is coffee essence made up mostly of chicory – Irel can be very hard to find nowadays so any coffee essence will suffice, but try find Irel if you can as it has the best flavour for this by far. I never use real coffee in a coffee cake as I don’t think it has the same taste)
140g (5oz) Skinned Hazelnuts
140g (5oz) caster sugar
Coffee Butter Cream
150g (9oz) butter
330g (16oz) sieved icing sugar
2-4 tbsp Irel coffee essence (2 for a milder tasting icing, 4 for a stronger one)
Equiptment: 2 x 8″ sandwich tins
Heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius. Grease the sandwich tins with butter and line the bases with circles of greaseproof paper.Beat the soft butter with the sugar in a mixer bowl, add the caster sugar and whisk until pale in colour and light. Mix in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn’t split. Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture.Finally, add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes.
While the cakes are baking, make the praline. To skin the hazelnuts, I roasted them in a moderate oven of 160 degrees C for 10 minutes so that they didn’t roast but their skins fell off. Note: this is not a necessary step, but I find hazelnut skins can be bitter. Then sprinkle the sugar in an even layer in a frying pan, tossing the hazelnuts on top. Heat on a moderate/high heat until the caramel has turned a deep golden amber and you can hear the nuts begin to ‘pop’ – this means they are toasted. Be careful not to stir with a spoon as the caramel can seize, but I swirl the pan to ensure they cook evenly. Then pop out the mixture on to a sheet of greaseproof paper on a cold surface and leave to cool. Once cool, blitz in a food processor until it turns to a course rubble with some smaller/bigger bits.
When the cakes are cooked, the centre will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tins.Leave to rest in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.Remove the greaseproof paper from the base, and then flip over so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack.Leave the cakes to cool on the wire rack.
To make the coffee butter cream, whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar and add the coffee essence.Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.When cakes are cooled, divide the coffee butter cream evenly and ice the top and sides of the cake. When they are ices, grab handfuls of the praline and and hold them up to the sides of the cake, coating it in an even praline coating. It’s easiest to do this while the cake is placed on a wire rack as any extra praline will fall under and can be reused.
Note: You could half the sandwich cakes making a four layer cake, which would look even more impressive!
Happy Sunday baking!