Today my blog turns 7. I can’t quite believe it. Each year I like to celebrate the occasion by making an apple themed bake. This year I was inspired by a cake combination of apple and hazelnuts.
My apple themed bakes from previous years are:
1st year – Spiced Apple Cake
2nd year – Individual Apple & Oat Crumbles
3rd year – Overnight Spiced Apple Stack
4th year – Fruity Tea Loaf
5th year – Roasted Apple & Custard Pots
My apple and hazelnut cake consists of light layers of nutty cake made by replacing some of the flour with ground hazelnuts. This was baked in tins that had chunks of sautéed spiced apple placed in the base first. When the cakes are turned out the apple bases become the topping for each cake layer. This creates layers of hazelnut cake topped with apple which when stacked means one apple topping acts like a fruity filling along with some creamy ricotta, and the other cake creates an appley topping as decoration. A double layer upside down cake.
I chose to shell, roast, de-skin and grind my own hazelnuts as we had lots of hazelnuts in their shells leftover from Christmas. I’ve never roasted and ground my own hazelnuts before and the intense nutty aroma this process produced was intoxicating. I’d really recommend roasting and grinding your own if you can, the flavour was far superior to the pre-ground variety, so nutty and fresh tasting.
The apple for the base/topping was made with tangy Cox apples that I first softened slightly in a mix of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. This created little chunks of sweet and spicy appley goodness that were delicious when baked into the hazelnut cake.
I debated using slices of apple rather than chunks, to create a more decorative topping when the cakes were turned out, but decided this would make the cake harder to cut neatly. I think I made the right decision in the end and I liked the chunks of apple, I think they added more flavour and texture than a thin slice would have done.
To fill my cake layers I used fresh ricotta that I lightly beat with a little maple syrup to sweeten it. This worked really well and kept the cake feeling light and delicate, as ricotta is no where near as rich as double cream. As it was lightly beaten it became smoother and creamier and many of my tasters didn’t realise it wasn’t cream until I told them. You couldn’t really taste the maple syrup, it just sweetened the ricotta slightly while still letting the hazelnuts and apple shine through.
My family loved the cake and it was devoured within a day. The combination of roasted hazelnuts, succulent apple and milky creamy ricotta was a delicious combination and kept the layers moist. It was the kind of cake you could eat for afternoon tea or as a dessert. (Sorry for the quality of the photos it was a very dark day).
Thank you to everyone who reads this blog or who writes blogs of their own. You are a great source of inspiration and new ideas. I’m sure most bloggers would agree with me that there are occasions were finding time to bake and blog can feel like a chore, but most of the time I delight in freedom of food creativity it allows me to explore.
Apple & Hazelnut Upside Down Double Layer Cake
60g hazelnuts, skin on
120g caster sugar
80g gluten free plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 x Cox apples (350g peeled, chopped weight)
3 tsp light soft brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1½ tbsp maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 8-9 minutes until the skins are tinged and they smell very nutty.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then rub the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel or sheets of kitchen paper to remove the skins. If sufficiently roasted, they should just flake off easily.
Grind the hazelnuts in a coffee grinder or small food processor and set aside.
To make the apple, peel, core and dice the apples into 1-2cm pieces.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the apples. Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes until just starting to soften. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon and cook for a further 1 minute until the sugar has dissolved to form a light caramel with the juices from the apple. Set aside.
Line the base of 2 x 6inch cake tins with greaseproof paper. If not still on, heat the oven to 180C. Divide the sautéed apple between the bases of each cake tin.
To make the cake, make sure your butter is soft and then beat it together with the sugar until it is pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in well. Scatter the flour, baking powder and hazelnuts over the top of the cake and mix until combined.
Divide the cake batter into the tins, spreading it carefully over the top of the apple chunks. It’s easiest to do this by blobbing on small spoonfuls and spread it out gently. It may look like there isn’t enough sponge mix, but it puffs up in the oven.
Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes until risen and gently springy to the touch.
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge and turning out. Leave the cakes to cool upside down, with the apple facing up.
To assemble, use a spatula to beat the ricotta with the maple syrup until it becomes smoother and creamy. (It will still look slightly granular, this is fine)
Place one cake layer on a serving plate, apple side up. Spread over the ricotta and top with the second cake layer, also apple side up.
Allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before dusting lightly with icing sugar and serving.
Store any leftovers in the fridge and due to the moistness from the apple and ricotta, its best to eat within 2 days.
Makes 1 x 6inch cake.