This hazelnut cake is called Torta di Nocciole in Italian. It originates from Italy’s Piedmont region, which is known for its hazelnuts. The taste and richness of the hazelnuts comes through in this flavorful and nut-rich cake.
Torta di Nocciole is an everyday, rustic type of snacking cake and this recipe is very forgiving and adaptable. Although not traditional, serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream for a sweet afternoon treat.
Sweetened whipped heavy cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the hazelnut flour/meal on the baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes until fragrant, stirring half way through to ensure even toasting. Toasting the hazelnut flour/meal will deepen its flavor, making it more nutty and complex. Let the flour/meal cool completely before using.
Measure all of the remaining ingredients. Butter a 24cm / 9½in springform cake pan, place a parchment circle on the bottom, butter the parchment circle and set the pan aside.
In a clean and large bowl, beat the egg yolks and half the sugar (100 grams) for several minutes until pale and light. Beat in the cooled melted butter and wine/rum until fully incorporated. Gradually add the baking powder, cinnamon, cornstarch and (cooled) hazelnut flour/meal to the yolk-mixture and beat until well combined.
In another clean and large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and salt until the beginning stages of soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar (100 grams), one tablespoon at a time, and whip until firm peaks form.
Scoop a quarter of the egg whites into the bowl with the yolk-hazelnut mixture and fold it in with a spatula. This will help to loosen the batter a bit. Continue to add the remaining egg whites, bit by bit, folding the whites carefully into the batter to prevent them from deflating too much. Make sure that the batter is well blended but be careful not to overmix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Smooth out the top. Place the pan on a baking sheet and into the oven.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until puffed and browned on top and the center is firm. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. If the top gets too golden but the cake is not yet done, cover the top with a lightly buttered piece of aluminum foil.
Let the cake cool completely before handling. Invert the cooled cake onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper, and dust the top with confectioners' sugar.
Slice and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.
Store leftovers at room temperatures in an airtight container for several days.