Italian desserts: Hazelnut cake (torta di nocciole)

Italians know that the best hazelnuts come from Piedmont, where this humble cake was also born as a way to use up excess nuts. Some like to include a spoonful or two of cocoa powder, but I prefer the nutty flavour of hazelnuts with just a splash of espresso added.

hazelnut cake
Lauren Bamford

SERVES 8

125g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g raw, shelled hazelnuts
100g plain flour
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
125g granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
60ml freshly brewed espresso, cooled
125ml whole milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a round springform cake tin approximately 23cm in diameter. Pulverise the hazelnuts in a food processor to a fine, sand-like texture. Place in a large bowl with the flour and baking powder.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in another mixing bowl until pale and creamy.
  3. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside.
  4. Add the yolks to the butter and sugar and mix. Next, add the dry ingredients, then the cooled espresso and milk, and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Finally, fold in the egg whites.
  5. Gently pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is springy and deep golden brown – a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.

TIP This cake keeps well for up to three days – store any leftovers in an airtight container or covered in a cool place.

Now buy the book

Torta della NonnaOur recipes are from Torta Della Nonna by food writer Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, £16.99). Emiko has lived in Florence for more than a decade and the book is a collection of some of her beloved Italian desserts. To order a copy for £14.95 until 28 March, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free p&p on orders over £20.