Donna Hay’s hazelnut and brandy forest cake with cream cheese icing

Want to bring a fun, festive treat to Christmas this year? Try Donna Hay’s hazelnut and brandy forest cake with cream cheese icing recipe.

SERVES 10-12

225g unsalted butter, chopped and softened 260g brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 medium eggs

335g self-raising our, sifted 225g ground hazelnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon 125ml milk

60ml brandy, plus 2 tbsp extra for brushing

CREAM CHEESE ICING ON TOP

500g cream cheese, chopped and softened 100g unsalted butter, chopped and softened 320g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting 2 tsp vanilla extract

3 thick sprigs rosemary, for decorating gingerbread reindeer (see Cookies on Top, page 59), for decorating

1. Preheat oven to 160c/gas 21⁄2. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 5-6 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

2. Add the our, ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, milk and brandy and beat on low speed until just combined. Divide the mixture evenly between 2 x 18cm lightly greased cake tins lined with nonstick baking paper. bake for 55-60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in tins for 10 minutes, before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese icing. Place the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. beat for 8 minutes or until pale and u y (see tip).

4. To assemble, trim the tops and slice each cake in half horizontally. brush each layer of cake with the extra brandy. Place the base of one of the cakes on a cake stand or plate and spread with 160ml of cream cheese icing. repeat the process 3 more times, nishing with the remaining icing.

5. Top the cake with rosemary and gingerbread reindeer and dust with icing sugar to serve.
TIP set the cream cheese icing aside in
the refrigerator for 15 minutes if it needs to firm slightly.