Monday, August 12, 2013

Birthday cake for babies and grown-ups alike.

I think I'm supposed to be more anal retentive about feeding Jules sugar, but I just recently met this terrific couple (parents of 3) who occasionally let baby #3 have a popsicle, and he and his siblings seem like they're in good spirits and health, so I decided to channel the parenting style of people who have already gotten over the insanity of baby #1, and made Julian a birthday cake that would actually be palatable for adults and children alike.

He's just trying to play it cool. He loved the cake! 

This was a recipe that Mummy made for us a few months ago when she was out in New York, so I knew that it would excellent. John and I inhaled it then, and ate it even more eagerly for breakfast the next day, so I figured that was the perfect cake to have in a house full of guests. Anything that wasn't eaten on Saturday would certainly be eaten by Sunday. Awesome.

Already half way through his slice. A total success!
(But don't worry-- I only gave him a tiny sliver-- so I probably
didn't dose him with that much sugar...)
I don't know where Mummy originally got this recipe and I don't think she does either-- so if it's your recipe and I'm infringing upon your rights in some way, my apologies and please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

And hats off to ya, because it's delicious!

Piedmontese Hazelnut Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake
7 T unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
¼ C semolina, plus more for the plan
2 C hazelnuts, toasted, skinner and cooled
½ C cake flour
1 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1C packed brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
2 T pure vanilla extract
2 T olive oil
Powdered sugar as needed for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 375 F.  butter a 9-inch cake pan.  Line with a 9 inch round of parchment paper.   Butter the paper.  Dust the pan with the extra semolina, shaking out excess.  Put the pan in the fridge to set the coating while you’re making the batter. 
Put toasted, skinned hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. 
In a small bowl, combine the cake flour, remaining semolina, baking powder and salt. 
Put the remaining butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream together for a few minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly before adding the next egg.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the hazelnuts and beat briefly to combine.
Remove bowl from mixer  then add dry ingredients, folding together gently with rubber spatula.  Fold in vanilla extract and olive oil, then scrape into prepared cake pan.
Bake cake until top is browned – 30 – 35 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and allow to cool on rack for about 15 minutes.
To unmold, run a small knife around the cake.  Turn out on to a plate or a piece of cardboard.  Turn right side up on to another plate.  When completely cool, sift powdered sugar on to the top of the cake.
Slice and serve.

This is a European-style cake, so it’s not as moist as an American cake.  A slice of this cake calls for a glass of Vin Santo or Moscato d’Asti.

Oops-- I actually didn't read that last part until this second-- so I just served the cake with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream, which is decidedly more American than Piedmontese... 

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