A beautiful layered cake suitable for any occasion. This recipe serves 12-16 people and would make the perfect dessert if you’re having people over
- For the cake:
- 5 large eggs
- 150g (5oz) caster sugar
- 125g (4oz) plain flour
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 30g (1oz) butter, melted
- 100g packet ground hazelnuts
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- For the praline:
- 30g (1oz) chopped roasted hazelnuts
- 125g (4oz) caster sugar
- For the buttercream:
- 2 med egg whites
- 150g (5oz) caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 175g (6oz) unsalted butter
- 4-6 tbsp brandy
- You will also need
- 2, 18 x 28cm (7 x 11in) tins, lined with baking parchment
- Large marble or wooden board with a sheet of baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
To make the cake: Break the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar. Whisk the mixture until it’s very thick, preferably using a tabletop mixer, until a trail is left when the whisk is lifted out of the mixture. If using an electric hand-whisk, this can be speeded up by setting the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.
Sift together the flour and cornflour and then sift over the surface of the whisked egg mixture. Carefully fold it in. Pour the butter around the edge of the bowl and add the ground hazelnuts, and then carefully fold them into the mixture. Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins, or until the mixture is just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and lift the paper out of the tins. Leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
To make the praline: Put hazelnuts on a baking tray in a warm oven to heat them slightly. Pour 2 tbsp water into a pan and add the caster sugar. Place the pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; use a damp pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Increase the heat under the pan and cook the sugar, without stirring it until it’s golden in colour. Remove the pan from the heat and, working quickly, add the chopped hazelnuts and pour the mixture out on to a sheet of parchment on a board. Use an oiled palette knife to spread it out thinly. Leave it to cool.
To make the buttercream: Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove the bowl from over the water and whisk the mixture until it forms stiff peaks, and then gradually whisk in the butter. The mixture may look like it has curdled, but keep whisking it and it will form a thick buttercream. Gradually whisk in brandy to taste.
To assemble the cake: Break some of the praline into small pieces for the top and crush the rest. Peel the lining paper away from the cakes and cut each in half. Place a portion of cake on a serving plate and spread over a third of the buttercream. Sprinkle over a third of the crushed praline, then place another layer of cake on top. Spread over half the remaining buttercream and about half of the crushed praline, and top with another layer of cake. Spread over the remaining buttercream and crushed praline, and top with the final layer of cake. Dust icing sugar over the top and sprinkle over the broken praline. Keep cake in a cool place until serving. This cake is best eaten on the day it’s made.
Leave the cake for about an hour before serving for the praline to soften in the buttercream.