Finding random things in the kitchen, and a hazelnut cake (torta di nocciole) with honey drizzle
|May 22, 2012||Posted by ameliaps under autumn, dessert, fall, Italian|
It’s somewhere around 5:00pm and am wrapping up the day around the house: work deadlines, kids’ homework and piano practice, laundry, mail… you know the routine. And there is dinner to be made. Most times I do not have a plan, I just go with the flow. I see what’s in the refrigerator (I like to keep it stocked with vegetables) and in the pantry. As I am pulling things out, I find a pack of hazelnuts in the back drawer… such a nice surprise! I like finding random things in the kitchen. I must have put them there and forgotten them for a later time. They are often purchases from trips or specialty stores that have no immediate use. “I know I can make something from this…one day!” said the “pasta di mandorle” (almond paste) or the “colatura di alici” (anchovy syrup). And they sit, hidden in a corner of the fridge or pantry until a lucky day they pop their head and say hello to an inquisitive me on the hunt for some kitchen adventure.
So these hazelnuts, in the midst of the May heat, called my name to prepare a grandmotherly cake for after dinner. Why not? Another one of those life-philosophy things of mine: why not bake and eat cake, once in a while, on a week-night evening? I remembered that somewhere in my hand-written notebook of “eventually-will-make” recipes I found this little treasure of a formula for a hazelnut cake (torta di nocciole). Filberts (as they are also called) have lots of fiber and a nutty flavor that goes well with honey, I thought. So that is what I drizzled over it once out of the oven: some warm orange blossom honey (I had a jar with honeycomb that was another one of those saved items).
I must say… I like finding random things around the house when searching for else. There are little treasures hidden all around, in drawers, on shelves, in boxes (even though we try to keep a relatively zen space): souvenirs from trips past, hand-written letters, photos, recipes, notebooks, … that’s “home”: a place that is made ours by layers of moments, reminders of our presence and of the ones we love, of places visited and experiences lived. It’s in the collective randomness of it all that we find meaning, a line that conjoins what seems mundane to something a little more profound: our existence in this world. No place better than the kitchen can tell of our personality and our way of living. So I love to be in here, and randomly come across things I had hidden for another time: it’s a vestige of my past self, almost a small time travel inside of me. Little things I used to like, small flashback memories…
Anyway, to make a long story short: I had these hazelnuts. They are the quintessential Italian nut. So I toasted them to “revive” them and bring out the fragrance. Oh, I must have eaten half pack just fresh out of the toaster… I then ground them into meal and made this lovely cake. It has a hint of coffee and rum, which bring out the wonderful aromas of nuts. Dusted it with powder sugar and drizzled with warm honey, it is a fine cake to share after dinner with friends, and a glass of vin santo. It is definitively a repeat for Autumn.
|Hazelnut cake (torta di nocciole) with honey drizzle||
- 300 gr. (10 oz., 0.7 lb, ~2 cups) whole hazelnuts – reserve a few to decorate
- 200 gr. (1.6 cups) all purpose flour
- 150 gr. (2/3 cup) sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder (OR use 1 bag Italian lievito per dolci)
- 100 gr. (7 Tbsp) butter, melted + 1 Tbsp olive oil (OR use 1 stick butter)
- 1/4 cup coffee
- 1/4 cup milk
- Optional: 1 Tbsp Rum
- 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
- To decorate: powdered sugar and honey
- Toast the hazelnuts (either in a toaster on under the broiler) for a few minutes and, with a towel, rub off the brown peel (does not have to be perfect!).
- Grind the hazelnuts (after having reserved a few for decoration).
- Preheat the oven at 350F (180 C).
- Butter and flour a round 9″ (22.5cm) spring-form pan
- Mix the ground hazelnuts, the flour, the sugar, and baking powder.
- Add the melted butter, oil, coffee, milk, rum (if using), and beaten eggs. Mix gently without over-mixing. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
- Allow t cool briefly. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzled with some warmed honey. Decorate with reserved hazelnuts.