Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DAN LEPARD'S ALE-CRUST POTATO PASTIES

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Three years ago, my lovely stepdaughter, Cat, convinced me to join twitter. As if I didn't spend enough time already on my computer!

But it's fun to follow Dalai Lama (whose tweets are not about food, but food for thought), or the The Onion ("Lucrative New Oil Extraction Method Involves Drilling Directly Into Gas Stations!")

Usually I look at tweets from baking buddies, food-magazines, and renowned chefs and bakers like Dan Lepard.

Brown Ale tastes good in and with a pasty!
For many years the author of Art of the Handmade Loaf und Short & Sweet published his recipes in the Lifestyle section of the  Guardian (alas, no more!)

When I saw his Ale-Crust Potato Pasties, I jumped on my bicycle (yes, at the end of November! In Maine!!!) to get local brown ale, sharp cheddar and white onions.

Pasties are meat and vegetable filled hand pies, originally the (easy to carry) lunch staple of Cornish coal miners.

Meanwhile they spread to other places, even Mexico, possibly due to a popular British Comedy-Show about the pasty munching, Newcastle Brown Ale slurping Geordies.

Like with many of Lepard's breads, the dough is minimally mixed, without much kneading. Hands, a spoon or rubber spatula suffice - the butter cubes should remain visible and not melt.

The beer dough is rolled and folded several times, and chilled in between, like croissant dough, to make it nice and flaky.

I spruced up the potato onion filling with a little bacon. The filling would have been enough for nine pasties, so I reduced the recipe amounts accordingly. 

The pasties tasted very good, we were especially pleased with the wonderful ale crust.

These don't last long!

ALE-CRUST POTATO PASTIES (adapted from Dan Lepard's recipe)

 (6 Pasties)

DOUGH
325 g bread flour, plus extra for rolling
175 g spelt flour, or whole wheat (I used spelt)
10 g salt, (2 tsp.)
300 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 cm (0.4") cubes
250 ml Newcastle Brown Ale, or similar

FILLING
2 slices bacon, cubed
265 g white onions, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
15 ml olive oil
65 g water
salt and pepper, to taste
50 ml heavy cream
350 g potatoes, cooked and diced
70 g sharp cheddar, grated
egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Mix the dough only until it's clumping
CRUST:
Stir together flours and salt. Toss butter cubes through flour mix. Pour in beer and mix to rough lump (the butter pieces will still be visible).

This is what the dough should look like

Transfer dough to floured worktop and roll out into a approximate rectangle, about 1 cm (0.4") thick.

Even after rolling the butter pieces remain visible

Fold it like a business letter, roll it out, and fold it again into thirds. Wrap dough package in plastic foil and freeze it for 30 minutes. Repeat this double rolling and folding 2 x more at 30-minute intervals. Chill the dough for 1 hour in the fridge.

The dough package needs chilling after each turn

FILLING:
In a saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Using slotted spoon, take out bacon bits, place on paper towel, and set aside.

Add onions, oil, water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Cook until all water has evaporated, and onions are very soft.

Stir in cream, let thicken a bit (mixture should not have too much liquid). Remove from heat, add potatoes and reserved bacon, season well with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

Roll one half of the dough into a rectangle, then cut in thirds

Divide dough in halves. Return 1 piece to refrigerator. Roll other half into rectangle of ca. 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13"), then cut into thirds (a pizza cutter works well), each about 23 x 11 cm (9 x 4 1/3").

Place filling on one half (this is a filling with Christmas dinner leftovers)

Brush dough stripes with water, spoon filling towards one end, covering about half of piece (leave edges clean, otherwise you can't seal them!), and sprinkle with cheese. Fold other half over filling, and seal edges with a fork.

Repeat with other pastry sheet. Chill pasties until firm, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC.

Brush pasties with egg before baking

Brush pasties with egg, and trim cut sides, if necessary (and if you are a neat freak). Place on parchment lined baking sheets and slash tops.

Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate sheet 180 degrees for even browning, and continue baking for another 15 - 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Freshly baked pasties

LEFTOVER RECYCLING
Pasties work really well for leftover recycling of holiday dinners. After Christmas I filled pasties with our roasted goose-, red cabbage and potato leftovers including gravy. They tasted great!

FREEZING
Unbaked pasties can be easily frozen (before applying the egg glaze). You don't have to defrost them, just brush them with egg before they go in the oven, and bake them a little longer.

Ale-Crust Pasty with leftovers from our Christmas goose dinner!

This post, first published December 2011, has been completely rewritten and updated.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

KHALID'S GÖTZENBURG-BREAD - WHOLE GRAIN BAKING IN DUBAI


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When I - driven from a real "Breaking Bad Bread" experience - challenged my baking buddies from The Fresh Loaf, Facebook and several congenial blogs to create a "Bread for the Knight with the Iron Hand", I promised myself to try all 30 loaves over time.

Well, let's say, almost all of them: the original 1914 German Army Kriegsbrot I'll better keep in reserve when times get tough.

Preparing Khalid's Götzenburg-Brot, I was struck by the idea to not only present his bread on my blog, but, also, finally satisfy my curiosity, asking my Fresh Loaf friend (username: Mebake) how on earth he came to bake whole grain breads in Dubai.

Khalid bakes whole grain breads - in Dubai!

This is his answer:

It all started with an idea to make a decent whole wheat bread. I wanted to bake a healthy wholesome loaf that my wife and I would enjoy on a daily basis. In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, most bread is mass produced in commercial plants. 

I wanted something different, and so began searching online for recipes, and stumbled upon thefreshloaf.com website. Encouraged by the knowledgeable, kind, and courteous community members of the site, I learned much about bread making including pre-ferments, and the merits of slow fermentation. 

Without hesitation, I joined the community and began baking bread and sharing my results though my online blog. Prior to this point , I had never been exposed to Artisan breads of any kind.

I bought several books, read blog posts, and watched many online videos on bread making. Soon, I felt that bread making resonates well with me like no other hobby I have ever tried before. Furthermore, I was charmed by the idea of baking bread from scratch using basic ingredients. 

With no reference points, and with the help of my keen wife, I started baking feverishly. At times, she would sarcastically call the dough: the “other lady”! as I spent hours and days pouring over the bread books and trying different recipes. 

The early breads were quite sour and bitter, but as I continued to bake on a weekly basis, results where slowly improving until I finally baked a whole grain loaf I could call decent. 

After the successful bake, I began exploring rye, and soon learned to appreciate the subtle earthy-sweet flavor notes of whole grain rye breads. To improve flavor, I bought a German electric mill (Hawos –Easy) and began milling wheat and rye kernels, and using the fresh flours in my bread. The flavor was so exceptional; it was quite a revelation to me.  

Now, I have sacks of 25 kg of flour lying in my house , a  mini old fridge where freshly ground grains reside, and a recently bought 4 tray convection oven to increase my capacity. I’ve also sourced some organic Rye , and wheat flours from a German culinary wholesale distributor in Dubai. 

I have a full time desk job, but bake for a monthly local event that is held in a shopping mall in Dubai: The Arts and Crafts Market.

I hope to start an Artisan Bakery in Dubai in the not too distant future.

Khalid's breads at the Arts & Crafts Market in a Dubai shopping mall

A name (and facebook page) for his bakery exists already: The Golden Wheat Bakery!

Khalid's hearty sourdough has a slight hint of sweetness from soaked, pureed raisins. We liked it a lot, and I'll definitely bake it again.

I made two small changes to his original recipe, adding the raisin puree right away to the final dough (it appeared a bit dry), and baking the bread with steam, since I like the crust to be a bit thinner.


KHALID'S GÖTZENBURG BREAD WITH WHEAT,  RYE & SPELT

Raisin Puree
50 g/1.8 oz raisins
50 g/1.8 oz water, boiling

Levain
25 g/0.9 oz mother starter
106 g/3.7 oz water
60 g/2.1 oz bread flour
44 g/1.6 oz whole wheat flour
30 g/1.1 oz whole spelt flour
15 g/0.5 oz whole rye flour

Final Dough
100 g/3.5 oz raisin puree (all)
280 g/9.9 oz levain (all)
167 g/5.9 oz bread flour
131 g/4.6 oz whole wheat flour
87 g/3.1 oz whole spelt flour
44 g/1.6 oz whole rye flour
242 g/8.5 oz water
12 g/0.4 oz salt


DAY 1
Mix all ingredients for levain, until well combined. Cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.

In small bowl, pour boiling water over raisins. Cover, and let soak overnight.

This lively starter's origin you can find here

DAY 2
Using a blender or immersion blender, puree raisins and any remaining soaking water.

Place raisin puree, flours and water for the final dough in mixer bowl. Mix, until all flour is hydrated. Leave for 30 - 60 minutes (autolyse).

Add levain and salt, and knead at low speed for 5 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 2-3 minutes at medium-low speed.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl

Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let ferment for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, with 1 x stretch & fold after 60 minutes. It should grow about 1 1/2 times its original size.

Nicely risen after 2 1/2 hours

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and pre-shape into a round. Cover, and let rest on the bench for 15 minutes, then shape into a boule or bâtard.

Place, seam side up, in a floured rising basket

Place, seam side up, in a well floured rising basket, sprinkle with flour, and let rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it has grown about 1 1/2 times its original size (a dimple, made with your finger, should come back a little, but remain visible).

The bread has grown by about 1 1/2 times its original size

Meanwhile preheat oven to 482ºF/250ºC, including baking stone and steaming device (or don't steam, if you like a rather thick crust).

Transfer bread to parchment lined baking sheet (or bake directly on baking stone). Score.

Ready for the oven

Bake for 15 minutes, with steam, then remove steam pan, rotate bread 180 degrees, and reduce temperature to 410ºF/210ºC. Bake for another 25 - 30 minutes, until crust is a dark reddish brown and the internal temperature registers at least 200ºF/93ºC.

Let bread cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

A hearty bread with a slight hint of sweetness

BreadStorm user (also of the free version) can download the formula:

Monday, April 6, 2015

FUDGY, FUDGIER, FUDGIEST - GLUTEN FREE, NO-BUTTER BROWNIES

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This year the Avid Bakers aspire higher baking education by delving into Christina Marsigliese's blog. Though her recipes might be "scientifically sweet", they are not overly sugary - a great plus in my opinion!

I find Christina's scientific approach interesting - she explains, why she adds certain ingredients, and what their properties are. For example, using powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar makes the cake batter moister because it dissolves faster into a syrup. 

But the concept of gluten and dairy free brownies, baked without butter or oil, almost kept me from joining our April project.

My first thought was: "Yuck!" Even my favorite vegan cupcakes (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World), are made with canola oil.

Luckily, the promise of "fudgy", and my curiosity won me over - the Fudgy No-Butter Brownies are among the best (and fudgiest!) brownies I've ever tasted.

Christina emphasizes on the importance of using the ingredients her recipe specifies - they are there for a reason: natural cocoa for a more intense chocolate-y experience, salt to enhance the flavor, and an extra egg white for structure.

And, though the brownies are not made with butter, they are not really lacking fat: almond meal, the gluten-free substitute for wheat flour, contains enough oil for a smooth bite.

The brownies are really easy to prepare - Christina could have also added no-fuss to her description!

Fudgy, fudgier, fudgiest - among the best brownies I've ever made

The only changes I made to the original recipe: the addition of a bit espresso powder - to boost the flavor even more - and a crunchy almond topping instead of more chocolate pieces. The batter is really loaded with chocolate, and doesn't need more.

My brownies needed quite a bit longer baking time: 40 minutes (instead of 25 - 30).


FUDGY NO-BUTTER BROWNIES  (adapted from Christina Marsigliese's blog "Scientfically Sweet")
(16 pieces)

300 g/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
56 g/ 2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
200 g/2 cups almond meal
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant espresso powder
142 g/2/3 cup good quality bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I used Guittard)
almond slices, for topping

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Line an 8 × 8-inch/20 x 20-cm pan crosswise with 2 stripes of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides.

In large bowl, sift confectioner's sugar and cocoa, then stir in almond meal and salt, until combined.

Add wet ingredients eggs, egg white and vanilla

 Add eggs, egg white, water and vanilla, and mix until batter is thick and smooth. Fold in chocolate.

Fold in chocolate

Transfer batter to prepared pan, using rubber spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle with almond slices.

Ready for baking

Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes, or until a shiny crust forms, and a needle comes out clean except for a few moist chocolate bits (my brownies needed 40 minutes).

Easter - and still no sign of spring :(

Thursday, March 19, 2015

FUN WITH SOURDOUGH - SURPRISING SHORTCUTS TO A HOMEMADE STARTER

Levain made from applesauce gone bad!
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The day arrives for every serious hobby bread baker when he or she - no longer satisfied with being limited to store-bought yeast - craves for the star among starters - the homemade sourdough!

The usual pathway to your own starter is stirring some flour into water, hoping that, over time, this mixture will attract wild yeasts and lactid acid bacteria to devour and digest the free all-you-can-eat menu. These microorganisms are either clinging to the grains or parachute down from the air.

Rose Hip Jam with Red Wine & Apples
Three years ago I accidentally hit on a shortcut to get faster to a viable sourdough.

A glass of my homemade rose hip jam, waiting to be labeled, had sat too long in my warm kitchen, and gone bad.

I was about ready to throw the jam in the trash when the tiny bubbles on the surface triggered my curiosity to do a a little experiment.

What would happen when I mixed a spoonful of the tipsy jam together with a bit of flour and water?

To my delight, eleven hours later I had a lively, bubbly starter that provided the mother for the Pain au Levain à la Jan Hedh I made the next day. 

Rose Hip Levain  - with a starter made from turned jam!

Last month, rummaging in our fridge, I found a glass of applesauce that we had opened a while ago, and then completely forgotten. When I removed the lid, a strong (but not unpleasant) alcoholic smell reminded me of my earlier jam experiment.

Applesauce with bubbles and alcoholic smell
I was just planning to bake one of the loaves in my Bread Basket for Götz von Berlichingen, and chose Khalid's loaf, made with pureed raisins. It seemed to be a perfect match for a fruit-based starter.

After two feedings (at 12 hours intervals), my new, active apple sauce starter was born!

I took 25 grams, and, just as if it were my regular sourdough from the fridge, mixed it with the water and flours the recipe required. Then I left it alone overnight.

My trust in the power of drunken apples was not misplaced - anybody who doubts it, clearly never snacked on the seemingly innocent fruits from a punch bowl!

The next morning I found a nicely puffed, lively starter - ready for action!

Khalid's loaf, made with wheat, rye and spelt, rose just as it should. With a nice oven spring, it bore witness to the magic of the applesauce levain. It also had an excellent taste, and I will definitely bake it again (post will follow soon).

Khalid's bread - the magic of tipsy fruits

Of course, not everybody has a glass of fermented jam at hand. Tidy housewives (and their husbands) use their stock of applesauce, before it can start breaking bad. But there are other possibilities - for neat freaks and people who, unlike us, don't stuff their fridge with so many baking ingredients and condiments that they get out of control.

You can find hungry microorganisms in other places - for example at your local grocery store or supermarket (no, this is not a call for the health inspector!)

Joanna's (Zeb Bakes) Kefir-Rimacinata-Bread inspired me to a new experiment. Her starter contains homemade milk kefir. Would the active cultures of plain supermarket kefir be willing to do the heavy lifting in my kitchen, too?

Kefir starter: bubbles signal activity
My first trial, using kefir straight from the fridge, like Joanna, started out promising. The bread rose nicely, but, before even reaching it full potential, it ended with a total collapse, when I turned it out of on the baking sheet.

The structure of the dough was obviously too fragile, and not even the boost from oven heat was able to revive the pitiful flounder.

But now my ambition was tickled, and the second time around I proceeded like I did with the fruit-based levains. I mixed a teaspoon of kefir with the double amount of flour (half whole wheat, half bread flour) and left it in a warm spot in the kitchen.

A few hours later little bubbles on the surface indicated its appreciation for this treatment, and I continued feeding it over the next two days, every 24 hours.

On the third day I subjected my kefir starter to a new test - with a "pinched, not kneaded" loaf à la Ken Forkish. The result already looked much better, even though the crumb was still rather dense in some areas. The Overnight Cornmeal Bread didn't taste bad, either.

Made with 3-day-old kefir-levain: some dense areas, but already edible

Over the next days, from feeding to feeding - every 24 hours - my kefir-levain rose and fell exactly as Chad Robertson (Tartine) asks for his starter. A loaf à la Tartine, considered by many the Hol(e)y Grail of bread baking, was destined be the ultimate stress test for my young sourdough.

Voilà - here comes the Brown Rice Porridge Bread, made with a 8-day-old kefir starter:

Brown Rice Porridge Bread from Tartine No. 3

The juvenile starter performed like a real pro, providing a leavening strength and great taste that my normal sourdough couldn't have done any better!

Not only that - I got the blessing of the master himself: Chad Robertson "favorited" my bread on Twitter :)

 Chad Robertson "favorited" my bread

Update: Even after feeding the kefir starter almost daily for 3 weeks, it still has a very pleasant, mild, milky smell, not acidic like my other starters.

Monday, March 2, 2015

LEMONIEST LEMON CUPCAKES



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After skipping the first two two projects, I was ready to join the Avid Bakers again -
Lemoniest Little Lemon Loaf from Christina Marsigliese, our new source for "Scientifically Sweet" recipes.

I love all citrus-y desserts, the tarter the better! And right now, having shoveled snow almost every day, I wish we could be back where the biggest lemons grow, the Amalfi coast!

Lemons (and Limoncello) in Amalfi - I wish we were there!

A whole cake is always a bit too much for two people who are forced to eat all their output (and they love to cook!), so I decided to make cupcakes instead, with a bit of lemon glaze for even more citrus flavor.

Since the cake contained cornmeal, I did not smuggle some whole wheat in the batter (what I usually do), and because Christina's cake didn't seem overly sweet, and had a lot of lemon juice, I didn't reduce the amount of sugar, either.

True to their name, the cupcakes tasted very lemony, indeed. A little trip to Italy for our taste buds!

Moist and lemony

LEMONIEST LEMON CUPCAKES (adapted from "Scientifically Sweet")
(12 cupcakes)
 
163 g/1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
42 g/1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tbsp lemon zest
¼ tsp salt
132 g/2/3 cup sugar
80 ml/1/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup lemon juice

GLAZE
120 g/1 cup confectioner's sugar
lemon juice (as needed for the desired consistency)
lemon zest, as decoration

Preheat oven to 350°F/175ºC. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together dry ingredients

Using a whisk, stir together flour, cornmeal and baking powder in a medium bowl until well combined.

In bowl of a standing mixer (or hand held mixer), whisk eggs, egg yolk, lemon zest and salt on medium-high speed until foamy, about 40 seconds.

With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar. Then increase the speed to high and continue beating until mixture is very pale and almost white in color, about 5 minutes. It should nearly triple in volume.

Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, first with the whisk attachment....

In a small bowl, stir together oil and lemon juice. Using the whisk attachment, fold 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg mixture.

Add 1/2 of oil mixture and fold until almost blended. Fold in 1/2 of remaining flour mixture followed by remaining olive oil mixture.

....then the last flour addition by hand with a rubber spatula

Finally, by hand with a rubber spatula, gently fold in last 1/3 of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated.

Distribute batter evenly in cupcake liners (I use a 1/4 scoop). Place muffin pan in the middle of the oven.

Lemoniest cupcakes ready for the oven

Bake cupcakes until they are pale golden, but still springy when touched, and a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan, and transfer to a wire rack.

Waiting for their glaze

For the glaze, mix confectioner's sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick but still liquid icing. Spoon glaze (about 1 teaspoon each) over tops of cupcakes. Decorate with a little bit of lemon zest.
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

BOHEMIAN HAZELNUT TORTE - A NUTTY RHAPSODY

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Another blizzard howls around our house, the third in two weeks! Alpine mountains tower over our backyard, shoveling is almost futile with the drifting snow, and a curtain of dagger-like icicles hanging from the roof grows to scary dimensions.

Icicles of Terror?

What can you do to avoid succumbing to the winter blues, or getting stir crazy? After digging out from another 11 inches of "light snowfall" to make our house accessible again, there's only one answer:

Go into my cozy kitchen, enjoy the warmth of the wood stove, and bake some more!

Emergency supplies to survive the next blizzard

Fortunately I always have nuts, Nutella, cream and rum in stock - perfect for making something rich and comforting to sustain us during this bone-chilling ordeal: Bohemian Hazelnut Torte, to our rescue!

Not for nothing, Czech Bohemia, once part of the Hapsburg Empire, is famous for its truly rich cuisine. With its wealth of pastries and calories it is no doubt on par with neighboring Austria and Bavaria.

Like all cakes in pastry chef Karl Neef's wonderful book on cakes,  Sonntagskuchen und Festtagstorten, Bohemian Hazelnut Torte needs a bit of work, but is so utterly worth the effort. In other words - a cake "to die for!"

The filling requires nougat. Unlike the one available in the US, German nougat is not white, but made with chocolate. Fortunately, Nutella is a good substitute.

Tart and spicy Pflaumenmus - my favorite jam

Another typical ingredient in Bohemian/Austrian pastry is Pflaumenmus (Austrian: Powidl). This spicy plum butter is similar to apple butter, but a bit tarter and more intense in flavor. You can substitute it with apple butter. Or get the real thing from a German deli shop, or at the commissary, if you are, like me, married to a veteran. 

Or you can make a pretty good substitute from prunes, without the hours-long baking process the original requires  - see my recipe for Pflaumenmus-Ersatz.  

Even though we really love our desserts - we are only two people, so I usually downsize, and bake either medium sized or even mini-tortes. You can choose between the two versions.

This torte is really "to die for" (here the mini-version)

BÖHMISCHE NUSSTORTE - BOHEMIAN HAZELNUT TORTE   (adapted from Karl Neef's Sonntagskuchen und Festtagstorten)
(9-inch/23-cm)

NUT SPONGE CAKE
75 g/2.6 oz all-purpose flour             
15 g/0.5 oz hazelnuts, toasted (toast together with the nuts for the caramel)
1 generous pinch cinnamon
1 generous pinch baking powder
3 large eggs
55 g/1.9 oz sugar
30 g/1 oz melted butter, lukewarm

NUT CARAMEL
60 g/2.1 oz sugar
10 g/0.4 oz butter
110 g/3.9 oz hazelnuts, toasted ((toast together with the nuts for the sponge cake)

BRUSHING LIQUID
60 ml/1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. sugar
40 g/1.4 oz rum

FILLING
5 g/0.2 oz gelatin powder (or 3 sheets gelatin)
25 g/5 tsp cold water
550 ml/18.6 oz heavy or whipping cream
40 g/1.4 oz sugar
75 g/2.6 oz Nutella
35 g rum (2 tbsp + 1 tsp)
185 g/6.5 oz plum butter*) or apple butter

*) or make it yourself: quick and easy plum butter substitute

Toast all hazelnuts (for sponge and caramel) together in a dry pan, until golden, and most of the skins can be rubbed off. Use 15 g/0.5 oz for the sponge and set aside remaining nuts for the caramel.

NUT SPONGE:
Preheat oven to 355ºF/180ºC. Grease a 9-inch/23-cm springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Or, if you don't want to deal with cutting a fairly thin cake in halves, grease and line two 9-inch/23-cm round cake pans).

For the sponge, grind nuts together with flour, cinnamon and baking powder

Place flour, 15 g/0.5 oz hazelnuts, cinnamon and baking powder in food processor. Pulse, until nuts are finely ground. (Grinding nuts together with flour or sugar prevents them turning into a greasy "nut butter").

Place eggs and sugar in a double boiler over simmering water. Using a whisk, beat mixture until it reaches 120ºF/49ºC (maximum). Remove at once from the heat and transfer to bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until egg mixture has cooled, and turned pale yellow and foamy.

Fold flour mixture and melted butter in egg mixture

Fold first flour mixture in egg mixture, then melted butter, until combined. Transfer batter to springform pan, or distribute in the two cake pans, smoothing top(s) with a rubber spatula.

Bake cake in springform pan for about 20 minutes (about 10 minutes for cake pans) until top is light golden brown and still feels elastic when slightly pressed in the center.

Allow cake to cool in the pan on a rack, then remove springform ring (or loosen rim in round pans with a knife), turn sponge out onto the rack, and peel off parchment paper.

The sponge should be light golden brown, and feel elastic in the center

NUT CARAMEL:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place sugar in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Melt, stirring constantly, until sugar turns golden. Add butter, stirring until blended. Add hazelnuts, stirring vigorously, until they are covered with caramel. Scrape out and spread nut caramel in one layer on prepared baking sheet.

Caramelizing hazelnuts

BRUSHING LIQUID:
In small bowl, stir together sugar, water and rum, until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

FILLING:
In small bowl, sprinkle powdered gelatin over cold water (or cover gelatin sheets with cold water) to soak.

Whisk heavy cream with sugar until soft peaks form (standing or handheld mixer). Microwave Nutella until softened, then stir until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Folding rum-gelatin mixture and cream in Nutella

Heat soaked gelatin together with rum mixture in microwave (or on stove top), until it has melted. Stir rum-gelatin mixture together with 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream into bowl with the softened Nutella (to temper it). Then fold in remaining whipped cream.

ASSEMBLY:
Cut sponge horizontally in 2-3 layers (if baked in a springform pan) Put bottom layer on a serving platter. Grease ring of springform pan or cake ring, line with a strip of parchment paper, and place it around the bottom cake layer.

This cake cutter makes horizontal cuts easy
 
For 3 layers: brush bottom layer with 1/3 of the rum mixture, spread 1/3 of the plum or apple butter over it, followed by 1/3 of the filling. Repeat with two remaining cake layers.

For 2 layers: use 1/2 of brushing liquid, plum (or apple) butter and filling per layer.

The torte is assembled, now it has to be chilled

Place torte for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove cake ring from chilled torte. Using rolling pin, coarsely crush caramelized hazelnuts. Sprinkle top of the torte with nuts and caramel shards. 

Torte topped with nuts and caramel (here the mini-version)

MINI-BOHEMIAN HAZELNUT TORTE  (use diet scale or fraction weighing spoon!)
(7-inch/18-cm)

NUT SPONGE
41 g all-purpose flour             
8 g whole hazelnuts
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch baking powder
97 g eggs*)
30 g sugar
16 g melted butter, lukewarm

*)break an egg into a cup, beat lightly, then measure the desired amount.

NUT CARAMEL
33 g sugar
4 g butter
62 g whole hazelnuts

BRUSHING LIQUID
33 g water
2 g sugar
21 g rum

FILLING
2.9 g powdered gelatin (or 1 2/3 sheet gelatin)
1 tbsp cold water (for gelatin powder)
310 g heavy or whipping cream
25 g sugar
41 g Nutella
20 g rum
100 g plum butter (or plum butter substitute) or apple butter

Prepare like the larger torte, but cut sponge only once horizontally and use 1/2 of brushing liquid, plum or apple butter, and filling per layer.

This torte will not get old (here mini-version)

Submitted to Sugarprincess Yushka's monthly blog event "Calendar of Cakes".

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