And yesterday morning I made a cake, because a) you can't have friends round and not bake a cake (even if you have made a metric tonne of biscuits), b) I had a craving for hazelnut cake and c) I had ground hazelnuts that needed using up.
You can jazz this cake up with chocolate icing, nutella or whipped cream, but for me, it is one of the few cakes that I love best absolutely plain.
Ground hazelnuts can be pretty difficult to find - I think I've seen them only once here in Ireland; mine came from Germany - but you could whizz some up in a coffee grinder or food processor. I've also made this cake with walnuts, and I suppose you could use coarsley ground almonds but I think that version might need a splosh or two of almond essence. Oh my god, I've just had an idea to make an almond version and put glace cherries in it - the ultimate cherry cake! - but then I am a total glace cherry whore, so you'll have to excuse me if that sounds like too much.
The recipe that I made was a mix of imperial and metric, and works out (in exact terms) like this (but you can probably round up/down with no problems):
7oz (198g) caster sugar
7oz (198g) butter
2tsp vanilla essence
4 medium eggs
7oz (198g) flour
200g (7.1oz) groung hazelnuts
splosh (50 - 100ml) milk - optional
You make it just like a standard sponge.
Preheat the oven to 175C. Beat the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and then the eggs, beating them in one at a time with a spoonful of flour to minimise splitting. Add the rest of the flour and the ground nuts, and mix in thoroughly. My mixture was somewhat stodgy so I added a splosh of milk to loosen it a bit but you might not have to do that - see how you feel. Spread it into a 23cm tin either lined with baking parchment or buttered and floured. I used a spring form tin, but a normal sandwich tin would also be fine so long as it is well greased/lined. Bake for around 30-40 minutes and test with a warmed skewer before you take it out. Let it cool and jazz it up as you feel. I cut some stars out of a piece of paper (software like MS Publisher(alright, I'm old skool) makes star drawing easy), put it on the top of the cake and sprinkled icing sugar over it. Take of the paper and presto! pretty stars.
Recently I have been cutting down on the amount of sugar I use in sponges, so a 4 egg cake will have 7oz sugar rather than 8oz for example (I always bake imperial rather than metric sponges - it's easier to remember). I nearly always put ground almonds in my sponges too (say 3-4oz in a 4 egg sponge) and as a result cut down the butter as well. There doesn't seem to be any loss in cake performance, and I get a moister cake which stays moist for longer. It also stays on my hips for longer but that's another story.
We ate it. It was delish. Go bake one.