How was everybody’s long weekend? Mine was filled with good food, good naps and a lot of good family bonding. Just about perfect. It was a huge change to switch off for a little while, not look at my phone every four seconds, and take a break from even the blog routine.
But now I’m back. Because I can’t keep cake from you for too long!
Especially if it’s a rich chocolate cake filled with hazelnuts, layered with cream cheese frosting, and more hazelnuts! Grab a fork, we’re going in!
You guys, this cake. Really not something you make unless you’re very very sure you have about 10 people to eat it with. It’s a large, decadent creation and I hope you don’t find yourself alone in a room with it.
I adapted it from Molly Yeh, reduced the sugar, baked it one pan, increased the baking time and decided a cream cheese frosting is healthier than a buttercream frosting. Spoiler, it’s not.
The great thing about this cake is that even though it’s filled with ground hazelnuts, it doesn’t turn out dense like most nut-based cakes too. Thanks to the larger amount of baking soda and baking powder, it rises well, remains light and tender and is quite unbelievable. It’s oil-based, so super duper moist too!
The cake is looser-crumbed and more ‘open’ than a regular chocolate cake, without the nuts, but it’s still a great texture. Along with that tangy cream cheese frosting, it’s complete heaven.
The frosting takes the cake, by the way. The middle layer is actually mixed up with more ground hazelnuts, and the top is left creamy and classic. I made a smaller quantity of it, because an overload of frosting has never been my thing, but feel to double the recipe if you’d like to cover the sides and have more in the center of the cake too.
This cake takes a while to bake, if you’re baking it all in one pan. It’s best made the night before you want to serve it, because it takes ages to cool completely. It’s also very fragile, so slicing it for the frosting has to be done super carefully. Mine wasn’t the most evenly done, but it’s all ok in the end. If you’re worried, you can also just leave it as a non-layer cake, and pile the frosting on the top. I promise it’ll be great either way!
- For the cake
- 2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 and ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 and ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 and ½ tsp salt
- 1 and ½ cups caster sugar
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup freshly boiled water
- For the frosting
- ¾ cup cream cheese, room temp
- ⅓ cup cream
- ½ cup butter, room temp (115 gms)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Toasted hazelnuts to top the cake, optional but recommended
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda. Add the salt and sugar. Mix and set aside.
- Blitz the hazelnuts in a grinder or food processor until finely crumbed. Reserve ¼ cup and add the remaining to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.
- Grease an 8" springform pan, at least 3 inches tall. Preheat the oven to 175 C.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Run a hand mixer through it to smoothen if needed.
- Fold in the flour mixture, alternating with the boiling water. You will have a thin batter and if there are any flour lumps, run the hand mixer through the batter again.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan, and poke a toothpick in the center. The cake will likely still be very uncooked in the center, so bake for another 30 to 45 minutes. This will differ from oven to oven, so keep an eye on it. Cover with foil if the cake is darkening too quickly, though I found it rose quite tall so the foil stuck to the top a little.
- Allow the cake to cool completely. Run a knife around the edges, then open the pan. Level out the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then slice it horizontally in the middle.
- Slide a large metal spatula in the center and loosen the top layer. Place a plate upside down on it, and gently lift the top layer off and set aside. If you'd like to transfer the cake to a cake pan, loosen the bottom layer as well, then slowly slide it on the cake pan.
- To make the frosting, beat all the ingredients very well until light and fluffy. A hand mixer is best here.
- Mix the reserved ground hazelnuts into half the frosting. Spread this on the bottom layer of the cake.
- Now slowly flip the plate with the top layer on it, back on to the layer of frosting. Press down lightly.
- Top with the remaining frosting, add toasted hazelnuts on top. The cake is best eaten at room temperature, but if the frosting is very soft, chill it for 20 minutes. Happy baking!
*I don't know if the eggs in this recipe can be replaced easily, because the cake could easily become dense without them. But yoghurt is a possible substitute, about 1 cup. I haven't tried this, and cannot guarantee the same result, but if you try it, let me know!