A few weekends ago, OCT and I played babysitters for his colleague who needed to work in the morning. Thinking of having something sweet for all of us to nibble, after a morning of play, I made a simple tea cake from Roland Mesnier's Basic to Beautiful Cakes . Chef Mesnier who is the former White House Executive pastry chef, has spent 25 years serving desserts to many influential politicians and first family.
I also enjoy reading the little introduction preceded every recipes. For instance, Chef Mesnier wrote that this Hazelnut Tea Cake was referred by President Reagan as "The Crunchy Cake" and had requested it for his birthdays several times. Information like this would be great conversation material on dinner parties, although I secretly suspect our young friend wasn't interested in this snippet of Mr Reagen's birthday cake preference. He was more anxious to get a second slice, with extra crunch on the side.
I adopted the recipe of the cake base, but used the praline buttercream recipe from one of the past Daring Baker's Challenges. Instead of making the nougat suggested by Chef Mesnier, I used Giada De Laurentiis's recipe.
Our little friend enjoyed the cake, especially the crunchy part!So was his play mate. :p
Hazelnut Ring Tea Cake
adapted from Roland Mesnier's "Basic To Beautiful Cakes"
For the Cake:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream, at room temperature. I use sour cream.
For the crunch:
1 cup (about 4 1/2-ounces) hazelnuts/almonds, toasted and skinned
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 recipe of Praline Buttercream. See here for the recipe.
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 400F. Heavily grease and flour an 8-inch tube pan. I use a 10 cup bundt pan. The cake is not as high as the original recipe, but taste all the same.
Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir until well combined, but do not overmix. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Then stir in the butter and sour cream/creme fraiche.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake intil the cake begins to form a crust, about 15 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat down to 350F and continue baking until a toothpick insered into the center comes out clean, 20-30 minutes longer.Let the cake rest in the pan on a wire rack and unmold it. Re-invert it onto another wire rack so it is right side up, and allow it to cool completely.
To make the crunch,
Place the toasted nuts close together in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar mixture until dissolved. Bring to a boil and let cook until the sugar is light brown, about 8 minutes. Let the bubbles subside then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and let the sugar nut mixture cool until hard, about 30 minutes. When the sugar nut mixture is hard and cool, top with another piece of parchment paper and pound into small pieces, or place the sugar nut mixture on a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Set aside.
Liberally cover the prepared praline buttercream on the cake. Smooth all sides, and arrange the crunch in an appleasing manner.