Nigel Slater’s recipes for hazelnut cake, and a salad of apples and pecorino | Food

Before I grind hazelnuts for a cake or a batch of butterscotch-coloured cookies I toast them. Ten minutes in a black iron pan over a reasonable flame teases out their flavour and turns their pale pores and skin a deep, burnished brown. The flavour is richer and deeper than a uncooked, bare nut.

All of the jars of nuts come out at the moment of 12 months: almonds for madeleines, walnuts for crimson leaf salads with shavings of pecorino or lumps of farmhouse Cheshire. I maintain brazil nuts for dipping into darkish chocolate. It’s an autumn factor, and I prefer to assume the crunch of toasted nuts is reasonably just like the crackle of strolling via dried autumn leaves.

I made a cake this week with each floor and chopped hazelnuts. The sugar was gentle muscovado that added a butterscotch notice. As a substitute of a buttercream filling or a mop-cap of icing I gave it to everybody with a bowl of coffee-scented mascarpone cream.

There have been crisp leaves on the desk, too, tossed with a mustard dressing and apples heat from the frying pan. Walnuts have been toasted and scattered via the lengthy “bunny-ear” leaves of crimson treviso. The leaves might have been ruby-veined radicchio, oak-leaf lettuce or curly wisps of frisée. I might have used a nut oil – walnut for desire – however such issues are costly and the depth has a tendency to dominate.

Nuts will burn in a heartbeat. I begin them on a low warmth, rising to a reasonable flame as I run out of persistence. Full of oil, they are going to burn and flip bitter in the event you get distracted. I discover the slower I toast them – eyes firmly on the pan – the higher their flavour. The common shaking of the pan will give your nuts a fair color. This isn’t the second for multi-tasking.

Hazelnut muscovado cake with espresso cream

The cake will maintain for a number of days in foil in an air-tight tin. The cream may be stored in a single day too if coated and refrigerated. The success of the espresso cream depends upon getting the whipping of the cream proper. Don’t over-whip: the cream ought to sit in delicate folds reasonably stand in stiff peaks.

Serves 12

butter 250g
gentle muscovado sugar 125g, plus further
golden caster sugar 125g
shelled hazelnuts 200g
eggs 3
self-raising flour 65g

For the espresso cream:
double cream 150ml
mascarpone 250g
icing sugar 50g
chilly espresso espresso 1 tbsp

You have to a deep, 20cm cake tin with a unfastened backside.

Minimize the butter into small items and beat along with the sugars till gentle and fluffy. Even utilizing a meals mixer this may take a good 5 minutes. You need a clean combination, the color of latte.

Set the oven at 160C/gasoline mark 3 and line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment. Tip the nuts into a dry, shallow pan and toast over a reasonable warmth until the skins begin to flake. Tip them into a clear tea towel and rub vigorously till the skins have flaked off. They’re unlikely to be utterly free of skins, nor do they should be. Wipe the pan then place over a reasonable warmth, return the nuts to the pan and allow them to toast, transferring them spherical sometimes.

Tip half the nuts into a meals processor and course of to high-quality crumbs – the identical texture as floor almonds, then put aside. Add the remaining nuts and grind them reasonably much less so, to retain a sure knubbly high quality, like gravel.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them calmly with a fork, then introduce them a little at a time to the creamed butter and sugar, beating completely between every addition. Tip in each tons of hazelnuts and combine calmly.

Gently add the flour to the creamed combination, incorporating it completely however rigorously, then scrape into the lined cake tin utilizing a rubber spatula. Easy the highest gently so it doesn’t kind a peak throughout cooking. Bake for 45-50 minutes, protecting the floor calmly with foil for the final 10. Take away from the oven, sprinkle with further muscovado then go away for quarter-hour to settle earlier than eradicating from the tin and leaving to chill on a wire rack.

For the espresso cream, whip the cream till simply thick sufficient to maintain its form. Stir within the mascarpone, taking care to not overmix, then stir within the espresso espresso. Cowl and chill within the fridge until wanted.

Salad of heat apples and pecorino

An autumn salad of crisp leaves, apples, pecorino and walnuts.
Crunch time: an autumn salad of crisp leaves, apples, pecorino and walnuts. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

Serves 2-3
crimson treviso or chicory 200g
russet apples 400g (about 4)
butter 30g
groundnut oil 1 tbsp
walnut halves 50g, toasted
pecorino 70g, shaved

For the dressing:
dijon mustard 1 tsp
grain mustard 1 tsp
crimson wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 3 tbsp

Put a couple of handfuls of ice cubes in a massive bowl, half-fill it with chilly water. Minimize the roots off the heads of chicory and separate the leaves, leaving them within the water for half-hour or so to crisp up.

Thickly slice and core the apples – I wouldn’t peel them. In a shallow pan over a reasonable warmth, soften the butter then add the oil. Fry the apples for 4 or 5 minutes on either side, till golden and beginning to soften. They need to maintain their form.

Make the dressing: put the mustard in a small bowl, add a pinch of sea salt, stir within the vinegar and then, utilizing a fork or very small whisk, beat within the olive oil.

Take away the leaves from the water, dry them then put them in a massive mixing bowl. Add the walnuts and pecorino, pour over the dressing and toss all of it collectively.

Put the salad on a serving dish. Scatter the nice and cozy apples over, and serve.

Observe Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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