Saturday, March 19, 2022


When I started this blog twelve years ago, I have to admit, I was not planning this far ahead. While I have always loved sharing and collecting recipes, as well as cooking and baking, I never thought I would be the one writing blog post after blog post for people to read. There is something there to be said about being overly timid, that is for sure.
As the years went by, I have grown through this. My command of English language improved, my baking skills improved, my desire to share recipes with so many new friends, to connect to others through food, only grew stronger.
What I am saying is; I am incredibly grateful to this blog and Tina from the past for starting it.
And to readers who happen to see this, debating themselves about whether to take up an hobby or deepen an interest; please do it. Do not wait for those perfect circumstances, because the chances are, they do not exist. And please, do not self-sabotage by comparing yourself to anyone else. Follow your heart and lead with it; everything else will find its place.
Now, about this lovely cake. We are closer and closer to spring, and the time is right for lighter desserts, preferably with mousse fillings. I love hazelnut praline in every form, and this cake is really just perfect to me; soft, light, and airy. Incredibly fitting for any brunch or tea. And what makes it even better is that the praline does not even have to be completely smooth; I find it carries a lot of charm in tiny bits of caramelised hazelnuts still suspended in the mousse.
Serve it well chilled, with a cup of good coffee, and enjoy.

For the hazelnut cake layers
140 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
150 grams light brown sugar
60 grams roasted hazelnuts, ground
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
50 millilitres vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
250 millilitres warm water
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon of hot water, for the coffee
For the hazelnut praline filling
150 grams roasted hazelnuts, whole
250 granulated sugar, divided
500 millilitres soy milk
80 grams cornflour
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
150 grams vegan block butter, softened

Start by making the hazelnut praline. Take a metal platter, line it with baking parchment, arrange the roasted hazelnuts in a single layer, and set it aside. Add 150 grams of the sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and shake it lightly so the sugar sets in an even layer. Place it over medium heat and let the sugar melt slowly. Do not rush this process or stir the sugar. You can gently shake the pan, but do not stir.
Once the sugar starts to brown around the edges, slowly move the melted parts towards the centre. Keep cooking until it starts to turn darker in colour and becomes very fragrant. As soon as it becomes a deep amber colour, remove it from the heat, pour it evenly over the prepared hazelnuts, and leave it to cool down completely.
To make the custard for the filling, pour the cold milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the cornflour, remaining granulated sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt, and whisk until blended and smooth. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let it heat up slowly. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking; this will prevent burning. Once it comes to a boil, cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and resembles a custard. Remove it from the heat, transfer it to a large bowl, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Once cool, use a food processor to grind the praline into a somewhat coarse, thick paste. Set the paste aside.
To make the cake layers, take a large bowl, and sift in the flour and the baking soda. Add in the sugar, salt, and the hazelnuts, and whisk very well. Take another large bowl, and mix together the warm water, vinegar, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and whisk until only incorporated. Overmixing will make the cakes tough. Line two small round pans (15 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set them aside. Divide the batter evenly.
Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water, and mix it gently into one-half of the batter. Pour them into prepared pans and bake immediately, in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 12-15 minutes. Check the cake for doneness early, so they do not overbake. As soon as a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down in the pans for about 10 minutes, and then invert them on a wire rack, and let them cool down completely.
Once the cakes are cool, and the custard is cool, place the softened butter into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on high for about 3 minutes, until it becomes lighter in colour and completely creamy. Without changing the beaters, mix the cooled custard until it becomes creamy, as well, about a minute or two. Add in the praline, and blend it well into the custard. Start adding the butter into the custard, a tablespoon at a time, mixing on the highest speed constantly. Once completely blended, place the filling into the refrigerator for up to an hour, to firm up.
To assemble the cake, level the cake layers, if needed, and slice them into two. Place the first vanilla cake layer on the serving platter, add a tall cake ring around it, and add a sheet of acetate before closing it. Divide the filling into four equal parts by weight, and reserve one-fourth, as it will be used as frosting. It is best covered tightly with cling film and kept refrigerated.
Spread one-third of the filling on the first cake layer, place a coffee cake layer on top, press it down very lightly, and top with another third of the filling. Add another vanilla cake layer, spread the remaining filling, and top with the last cake layer. Cover the top of the cake with a piece of baking parchment or cling film, and place the cake into the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, take the reserved filling out of the refrigerator, and fold it though with a spatula, until it loosens up slightly, and softens. Take the cake out of the refrigerator, remove the cake ring and the acetate, and spread the frosting as you like. Return the cake to the refrigerator for about an hour, so the frosting sets, decorate to your liking, and serve. Yields 16 servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2022

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