I am a cake fiend, I love cakes in any shape and form. If I bake them I, most of the time, end up eating them as well. My 7 years old daughter does not like cakes; my son only vaguely likes them, provided they fit into the brownie or the apple cake category; my husband prefers biscuits and I could live on tea and cake till the end of my days, with a few stopovers to have the odd pizza and something smokey, like babaganush or kedgeree along the way.
This cake to me gets very close to cake Heaven. It is all about Autumn, nuts and earthy flavours, with enough cocoa to lift the whole thing to a place of pure indulgence. It also has a feel good factor about it being gluten and fat free. One may argue that nuts are not fat free, but they have the right sort of fats. I also hope nobody comes back riding the sugar is the new fat horse, because I am sure it could be made using stevia or something other than light muscovado. I have not tried, so I cannot say; there you go, a challenge.
I have made this cake for the last couple of years, usually using walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, but this time, as I didn't have any walnuts in the house, I thought of using chestnut flour instead. The result is a spectacular moist cake which will make you want to step outside and walk in the woods, to breath in the morning fogs and look at the mist rising above the fields. While you are at it, you can also beat the squirrels to the cobnuts, crack and roast them before grinding them to a rough powder instead of the hazelnuts of the recipe.
100g chestnut flour
100g almonds (dark skin on)
200g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking powder
100g Greek yoghurt
3 eggs (white and yolks separated)
pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 150°C. Put the hazelnuts in a baking tray and roast for 5 minutes shaking the tray a couple of times. Take out of the oven and leave to cool, then rub with a cloth to remove some of the papery skin. Grind the hazelnuts and almonds a little at a time along with some of the sugar, to prevent them releasing the oil. Also try to keep the grinding to a minimum to prevent overheating and altering the flavour of the nuts. Leave some chunky bits for texture. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C.
In a large bowl mix the ground nuts with the chestnut flour, cocoa and baking powder. In another bowl whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar until light, pale and fluffy. Stir the nuts and yoghurt into the yolks and mix thoroughly. The mixture will be somewhat stiff. Now whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and then carefully fold into the cake mixture a little at a time using a wooden spoon. Grease a 24-26cm cake tin then line with baking parchment. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and level with the back of a spoon. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides and feels spongy to the touch. Take out of the oven and leave to rest in the tin for five minutes before unmoulding the cake onto a plate. It tastes better the next day, if it can make it that far.