Hazelnut Torte With Summer Berries
From The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook By Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman
Tortes are cakes, usually constructed in layers, that rely more on nuts than on flour for their substance. This one has been a favorite special-occasion dessert for three generations of my family. I like to vary it with seasonal fruits, and for summer family get-togethers this means berries from the garden. The torte’s popularity has a lot to do with its light texture, its rich nutty taste, and its adaptability, but truth be told, it is also a snap to make. Most of the work is done by the food processor or blender, and the frosting is simply flavored whipped cream. Other nuts might well be substituted, but hazelnuts are often favored for tortes, and are even a crop we have raised successfully at home.
Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, preferably turbinado or raw
1 cup hazelnuts
1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons Kirsch (see Note) or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries, either mixed or singly, depending on availability
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Smear the bottoms and sides of two 8-inch, 1½-inch-deep layer cake pans with the butter. Line the bottoms with rounds of wax paper cut to size.
Mix the flour and baking powder together in a cup or small bowl, and set it aside.
Combine the eggs and ¾ cup sugar in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the hazelnuts and continue processing until the nuts are finely grated, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and process until just mixed, about 2 seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing it equally. Bake until the layers are light tan in color and no longer jiggle when shaken, about 20 minutes. Let the layers cool in the pans on a wire rack. They will deflate slightly.
To make the frosting, whip the cream, gradually adding the Kirsch and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form.
Gently rap the edge of one of the cake pans on the counter to jar the cake loose, and invert the layer onto a flat serving dish. The wax paper will likely stay in the pan, but if not, just peel it off.
Spread a third of the whipped cream over the top of the layer, and then add half of the berries.
Holding the second cake pan upside-down, and gently rapping the edge of the pan on the counter if needed, catch the cake with your hand (easy to do with an 8-inch layer) and carefully place it on top of the first layer, topside down. Remove the wax paper if needed. Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top of the cake, and then decorate with the remaining berries.
Keep refrigerated until just before serving.
Note: Kirsch, or Kirschwasser, is a cherry-flavored liqueur that is highly suitable for flavoring fruit desserts.
To read our review of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook, click here.
For more ways to cook with summer fruit, check out this recipe for Blueberry Scones.