When I first made this cake years ago with my friend Heather, we used pecans. But pecans are not so easy to find here in Paris.
(We also, in our restaurant-opening-induced delirium, wrote a song about it, which I’m sure is funny only to us. I will not share it with you.)
The method is fairly typical, but in the initial step the butter is creamed with a mix of sugar and nuts instead of just sugar. Also typical is my use of crème fraîche in the batter. Sorry, I love the stuff. You can try it with buttermilk or yogurt if you’d like to lighten it up.
It’s not too sweet, and like many of my favorite cakes, it’s good as a snack with tea or for breakfast (a nutritionist I am not). With some fruit (maybe peaches in summer, bananas in winter, apples or pears in fall) you could serve it for dessert. Whipped cream spiked with Bourbon might be a good idea, too.
Hazelnut Butter Cake
1/2 c (2 oz / 60g) toasted hazelnuts
7/8 c (175 g) sugar
4 oz (120 g) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 eggs, at room temp
1 1/2 plus 2 T (230 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
7/8 c (220 ml) crème fraîche, at room temp
1 t vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° (190° C). Lightly butter a 9″ or 10″ cake pan, and dust the whole thing with flour. (For extra insurance, line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment).
Put the nuts and sugar into a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped. The mixture should resemble coarse wet sand.
Put the nut/sugar mix and the butter together in a mixing bowl and mix (use the paddle if you have a stand mixer, or an electric mixer) on low speed until the butter is distributed, then turn up the speed a little and mix for a minute or so. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions and stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add one third of this mix to the nutty butter and mix on low speed until just combined, or just do it by hand. Stir the vanilla into the crème fraîche, then add half of it to the batter, again mixing carefully until just combined. Repeat these steps (dry, crème fraîche, finish with dry). The batter will be quite thick.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until just firm to the touch and until a toothpick or knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Serve slightly warm if you want, or let it cool. The cake will keep for a day or two, well-wrapped at room temperature.