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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake – Gluten Free and Best Ever

Happy Easter everyone – it’s that time of year where everyone looks forward to a chocolate treat so I thought I had better make something to keep everyone happy – me included!

This is an absolutely scrumptious cake and, when I say best ever – I mean, apart from the scruminess, that it is ‘fail’ proof – as long as you follow the recipe.  This is also following along the recent theme of gluten free cakes with chocolate and hazelnut meal giving it its bulk – no flour.

Growing up in Britain in the 50’s and 60’s we had fairly basic repertoire of cakes that pretty much followed the fruit  and sponge cake themes – ones that filled you up, were cheap to make with easy to obtain ingredients –  tasted fine, but were hardly elegant – as this cake is (don’t be fooled by the rabbit!).

I first tried cakes like this when I moved to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in the mid 1970’s, with a large population of migrants from Eastern Europe they had fortunately brought their cake baking skills and cafe culture with them.  This cake has its history in places that make chocolate and grow hazelnuts and is very similar to a traditional Austrian Linzer torte or Hungarian Dobos torte – though these would generally be iced and layered with more chocolate and cream. (If you are in Sydney you can try these at the Gelato Bar on Bondi Beach).


200g dark, good quality chocolate, chopped

150g butter, chopped

6 eggs, separated

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 1/2 cups hazelnut meal

double cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm (base) round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper.
NOTE: I have learned that successful cake making depends a lot on using the correct size tin for the recipe – you can’t alter it and expect good results.
Combine chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until thick and creamy. Add cooled chocolate mixture. Beat to combine. Add hazelnut meal. Beat to combine.
Place eggwhites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Using a metal spoon, stir one-third of eggwhites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold remaining eggwhite through chocolate mixture.
NOTE: About whipping egg whites.  Always make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and dry.  You will have more success with fresh, free rage eggs.   The beaten egg whites act as the raising agent in this cake.  As the air bubbles heat up in the oven they expand and make the cake rise – that’s why it’s important to remember two things; 1. Fold the egg whites into the mix with a metal spoon NOT anything that will squash the air bubbles, 2. Make sure the cake is cooked properly before you take it out of the oven, otherwise it will collapse in the middle.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
TO GET THAT EASTER EFFECT – the ‘bunny’!  In fact you can use this simple method to decorate any cake.  Simply, use a cut-out shape and place it on the top of the cake.  Gently, sieve icing sugar over the top, particularly around the edges of the shape, then GENTLY lift the shape off the cake – hey presto!  When I was at school, in my domestic science class, we used to decorate Victoria sponge cakes this way using the pattern of a paper doily.

I served this cake with lightly stewed raspberries and blueberries with cream.  Bon appetite.