I have my sister and her fiance coming over for lunch so I thought I’d make this cake which was a favourite of ours growing up – mum would only make it once a year, she said it was because it’s a finicky cake, but I’m guessing it had more to do with the amount of sugar and butter in it.
This is the only cake I’d gladly have a go at eating the whole lot in a sitting…it’s all-time.
My mother tells me the recipe originated from a Hungarian lady called Mrs Bokor who’d come out with lots of other Hungarians to build the Snowy Mountain Authority Hydro after the Second World War. Mrs Bokor used to sell it to my Grandmother who eventually asked for the recipe. Apparently she used to put the icing on the side and put a genache on the top…Hungarians and their dessert!
200g hazelnut meal
6x med eggs (700g), room temperature
1 & a half cups castor sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
1x espresso shot – make it approx 40ml (you can use instant coffee and it will still taste OK, the espresso makes the icing a bit more luxurious)
Separate egg whites and yolks, placing yolks in a bowl that can take some heat
Reduce coffee till thickened, set aside (will look like it is staining the bottom of the saucepan)
Place some boiling water into another saucepan, place yolks into bowl and place over saucepan, add 100g sugar and stir continuously until pale and creamy (should be minimal granulation by this stage)
If you think (or smell) the eggs are cooking quickly remove from the heat and keep stirring to let it slightly cool – I usually do this constantly during this process
Pour in coffee, still stirring
Gradually add three quarters of the butter until dissolved, still stirring, till you get a rich and thick texture with no lumps of butter
Place in refrigerator for about an hour – when the cake is cool, break up the icing with a fork and put back into a mixing bowl with remaining butter and give it a quick whiz to bring it up to consistency
I find it difficult not to keep testing (tasting) to see if it its set, but resist because you need it all to cover the cake!
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (392F)
Beat egg whites and gradually add the sugar sugar (half cup) till stiff peaks form – meringue like consistency
Fold in ground nuts with metal spoon – try to avoid large clumps of egg white but don’t over-do it
Pour into a large, flat, greased and papered tin, level out the mixture to form a rectangle
Put in oven for about 15-20 mins, or golden
Carefully cut the cake into three rectangles, you may need to gently ease it off the baking paper
Spread cream over each layer (if it’s a hot season the icing will melt very quickly so you will need to be fast…I obviously wasn’t fast enough…kept on checking to see if it tasted alright)
Lightly sprinkle some hazelnut meal over the top
Put back in the fridge to set