Hazelnut Cake with Apple Cream & Caramel topping

By now you you probably all know about the workshops I hold in London, but last weekend I travelled a little further afield to teach my first workshop at The Forge in Bristol. Having seen so much of this fabulous venue (ok, mainly on Instagram), I couldn't wait to set foot in it and have my day there. The weekend before I had done a workshop for Neff at L'atelier des Chefs here in London and the hazelnut torte the chef had baked gave me the idea for this cake. I just needed to tweak it a little: I wanted the cake itself to be a little fluffier and lighter and the filling to be cream based whilst still retaining the autumn flavours of hazelnuts and apples. 

Now, I could just tell you how gorgeous the venue was, how well the workshop went, how lovely the participants were, how much I enjoyed the day, how everything was just great. And all these things were. It was a really lovely day and I couldn't have been happier. However, the run-up had been somewhat different and that resulted in a cake that wasn't exactly as I had planned... Disaster had started to strike during the week before the workshop with Monsieur being ill, having tests done in hospital, before we ended up in A&E a couple of days later. That was followed by another visit to his GP as well as tiredness and worry about not knowing what was actually wrong. On top of this, I still had my work and deadlines during the week which I tried to cram in before setting off on Friday afternoon. I baked the cake on Friday morning and after I'd finally managed to pack my car, set off to Bristol. Needless to say, that didn't exactly go to plan either: the drive that should have taken around 2.5 hours turned into nearly 4.5 hours. Still, I got to the hotel, settled for the night and was looking forward to the next day.

The next morning I made my way to The Forge, car packed full of props, cake baked and ingredients ready to decorate it. Just after arriving I was greeted by Silkie, the owner, whom I immediately warmed to. You know how you can sometimes just look at a person and think "I like you"? Yes, something like that... And it turns out she really is as lovely as my first impression led me to believe. Anyway, the participants were supposed to arrive for 10.30, so I got to work unpacking and getting everything ready. I had left myself enough time to get organised as I knew a new venue might need just a bit more thought on my part. Well, I thought I'd left myself enough time... Turns out there was a misprint on the tickets (nobody's fault) and everybody turned up over half an hour early. Cue slight panic on my side. And when I panic things go wrong. I overbeat the cream for the cake and it curdled slightly. With no time and no idea where the closest shop was, I didn't have a choice but to carry on regardless. Inside though, I felt gutted. Not only did I not have time to make my own caramel during the chaotic week, now the cream had gone wrong. Not wrong to the point where it'd be inedible, but wrong to the point that it was visibly not right - if you know what I mean. The bottom line is that whilst I like (I really do) imperfections, there is "perfectly imperfect" and then there's "simply not good enough". This cake - including the caramel - was just that: not good enough. Though it did taste great. Which is at least something. Besides, I wouldn't share the recipe if it hadn't, right? So, here it is. Just remember to stop beating the double cream once it's stiff. 

Ingredients:

For the cake (two 20cm loose bottom tins):

  • 220g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 220g unsalted butter at room temperature (plus some for greasing the tins)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 2tsp instant coffee

For the filling and cover:

  • 500g mascarpone
  • 450ml double cream
  • 250g apple preserve

For the topping:

  • One jar (around 380g) of caramel (I used Bonne Maman Caramel Spread, but others are of course available and homemade would usually be my first choice)

How it's done:

To make the cake:

  • preheat the oven at 170°C  
  • grease your baking tins
  • in a stand mixer whisk the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  • separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the butter and sugar mixture
  • sieve the flour and baking powder and add to the mix
  • heat the milk, add the instant coffee and stir until dissolved
  • stir the warm coffee into the mix and add the hazelnuts
  • beat the egg whites until stiff and - using a metal spoon - fold carefully into the mix
  • pour into the prepared tin and smooth the tops
  • bake at 170°C for 25-30 minutes until firm but springy to the touch
  • leave to cool before cutting each cake in half

For the filling:

  • whisk the double cream until stiff
  • fold in the mascarpone until well combined
  • give the preserve a good stir before adding to the mix
  • mix all with a wooden spoon until combined

Assemble the cake whilst leaving enough of the cream mix for the top and the sides. Pour the caramel over the top and spread so it runs slightly down the sides.