Hazelnut cake made with whole grain flours & toasted hazelnuts, filled with plum & vanilla bean preserves and finished with a refreshing sour cream chantilly
I sometimes work the local Saturday farmer’s market selling organic vegetables for a farm that I used to work for here. While there are many advantages to being involved in the behind-the-scenes of the market, one of the best ones is the incredible amount of food that I come home with every time. It’s often borderline too much – sometimes, my fridge can’t even hang with the pressures that I put upon it. But it sure does inspire one to get cooking. Or baking. Or preserving. On the best days, days with lots of energy and a high tolerance for washing dishes, some of all of these things.
This particular weekend, one of our favorite loyal customers came up to the booth as we were packing things up at the end of the day. She had a big box of absolutely gorgeous, dark purple plums that she needed to be rid of. She came to the right girl, because I’ve been extra on top of my canning and preserving this summer. I traded her some onions and shallots, while visions of sugar plums danced in my head.
I had to do these beauties justice. They were dark on the outside, yellow on the inside, perfectly ripe and sweet. I thought about dehydrating them, but it just seemed a little boring for such lovely things. I decided it was time to make another cake, after all. Perhaps one last summery cake, while berries and stone fruits are still around. What are some good flavor pairings for plums? I was soon dreaming of hazelnuts, cornmeal, and vanilla. Surely I needed to slow-cook these little fruits with a few whole vanilla beans until their purple syrup thickened on its own.
This beautiful preserve is then spread between layers of hazelnut cake. The cake gains richness and complexity with toasted and ground nuts, a little corn flour, and whole wheat pastry flour. Filled and iced with a simple sour cream chantilly to cut through some of the sweetness and provide balance. It almost has a peanut butter and jelly feeling, but with more sophistication. Top with the last fresh flowers of summer and take it all in. Summer’s almost gone, but we’re gonna be okay.
adapted from Essentials of Baking
1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sour Cream Chantilly:
1/2 cup whole milk sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
2-4 tablespoons vanilla sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the hazelnut cake, first preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast the hazelnuts for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Rub them together in a dry tea towel to remove skins. While nuts are toasting, butter two 6″ cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
In a food processor, blend hazelnuts together with corn flour until finely ground. Sift together remaining dry ingredients; fold in nut mixture.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in the yolks and vanilla extract. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites with whisk until soft peaks form.
Fold one-third of dry ingredients into butter mix lightly with a rubber spatula. Add half of egg whites and gently incorporate. Add another third of dry ingredients, folding until almost mixed. Fold in remaining egg whites, before careful not to deflate. Fold in the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour batter evenly into two prepared pans. Level out with a spoon or offset spatula. Bake for about 21-25 minutes, until lightly golden and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow to cool completely.
To make chantilly cream, place sour cream, cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip until medium peaks form.
Slice each cooled cake in half horizontally. Spread about 1/2 cup of plum preserves onto bottom cake round and top with another layer of cake. Spread some chantilly onto the next layer. Top with next cake round; spread again with about 1/2 cup of plum preserves. Finish with top cake round. Crumb coat entire cake with a thin layer of chantilly cream. After well chilled, finish frosting the cake with remaining chantilly. Decorate with fresh flowers, plums, or toasted chopped hazelnuts. Best served just slightly cold.