Hazelnut and orange cake: it’s time for celebration.

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Last week it was my husband’s birthday. As a tradition, I asked what kind of cake he would have liked to celebrate his special day and for the first time in 10 years I was given free rein to make whatever I felt like. I could have gone for some wacky flavours or some strange ingredients but I guessed that my conservative audience would have appreciated a more traditional, albeit new (at least for my kitchen), combination.

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For some reasons, hazelnuts represent autumn to me, maybe is the warm mellow flavour or maybe because of the recipes I normally put them in. And what is the best companion for nuts? Of course citrus fruit and although we are not in full season yet, I was lucky enough to find some nice looking oranges that to me seemed to be the perfect companion.

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I created this cake with bits and pieces of other recipes: my tried and tested buttercream, a slightly modified sponge to account for the large amount of fat present in the nuts and a lovely crème patissière from Michel Roux, enriched with orange flavour. It is extremely easy, and the nuts, the buttercream and the candied orange peel allow for a millions of variations in the decoration.

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Simple clear flavours that will unlikely go down badly with any eater, even the fussiest. I think I just found another great celebration cake .

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Have a good week!

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Recipe

For the cake:
150gr halzelnuts ground in fine powder
250gr plain flour
200gr unsalted butter
250gr eggs without shell
220gr caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder

For the syrup:
The fresh juice of 3 large oranges
Caster sugar to taste

For the crème patissiere:
6 egg yolks
Peel of 3 large orange
125gr caster sugar
35gr plain flour
15gr conrflour
500ml full fat milk

For decoration:
Prepare the buttercream as in the recipe for the Wedding Cake on the following page https://maribakes.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/wedding-cake/ but omit the lemon curd
Caster sugar
The peel of the 3 large orange after they have been used for the crème patissière
Coarsely chopped hazelnuts

First make the cake, cream butter and sugar together in a mix, add 1 third of the eggs and one third of the flour mixed with the baking powder. Mix gently and repeat this last step twice until all the eggs and the flour have been added. Add the halzelnuts and mix again gently until the batter is uniform.

Place the mixture in a buttered cake tin, spread gently, put in a oven at 200°C, lower the temperature at 180°C and bake for 45-50 minutes.

When the cake is ready let it cool slightly in the tin, remove, let it cool thoroughly at room temperature, cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

Prepare the crème patissière. Peel 3 oranges with a fine potato peeler, place the peels in the milk, add 1 third of the sugar and bring to boil. While the milk is reaching the boiling point whisk the egg yolks, the rest of the sugar and the flours to obtain a smooth ribbon consistency.

As soon as the milk boils pour a little bit in the eggs mixture passing through a colander to separate the orange peels. Mix and pour the rest of the milk. Return the mixture in the pan put on a medium-low heat and bring to boil by whisking continuously. Boil for a couple of minutes or until the mixture has become thick and creamy.

Pour into a large bowl, cover with a layer of cling film and place in the fridge to cool.

Prepare the butter cream according to the recipe for the Wedding Cake at the following page, by omitting the lemon curd.

Prepare the orange peels, recover them from the colander, dry them slightly in a kitchen towel and cut them into strips as narrow as possible. In a sauce pan bring to boil about 150-200 gr of water and the same amount of sugar. Add the peels and let them boil for up to 30 minutes. Drain carefully through a colander and place the peels on a clean surface to dry.

Make the syrup by squeezing the oranges and adding caster sugar to taste, the mixture should have a thick and sticky consistency.

Once the cake, the crème patissière and the peels are cooled you can start building and decorating the cake. Cut the cake in 3 layers. Make each of the three layers slightly wet by pouring evenly some of the syrup, place half of the crème patissière on top of the bottom layer and spread gently, place the middle layer and repeat with the crème patissière left. Cover with the top layer of the cake.

Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and complete the decoration according to your taste and imagination with more buttercream, chopped halzelnuts and the orange peels.

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