Wednesday, May 8, 2013

THB: Marionberry-Hazelnut Cake

I can't believe that this is my first blog post in a really long while but hopefully, my hosting The Home Baker's Marionberry-Hazelnut Cake from the book "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas will push me to start writing on my blog again which I have regretfully ignored because of other matters.  This cake, as you can see above, didn't turn quite as lovely as the picture in the book because the toppings sunk to the bottom.  Somehow, my long baking rut made me forget that this is a usual occurrence with butter cakes and therefore, I should've added the toppings midway through the baking instead.  I don't know where in the world you can find marionberries but when I chose this recipe, I knew that I would be using blackberries instead of marionberries and that I would be substituting almonds for the hazelnuts.  I'm not really a fan of hazelnuts in anything except the ubiquitous Nutella which we all know is mixed with chocolate and all the hazelnuts I can get here are the un-peeled ones which would make it even more of a hassle as it means that I would be going through the blanching process and all just to peel them.

What's interesting about this cake is that it has more almond meal in it than flour so I didn't know what to expect in terms of how it'll rise or how tender the crumb would be.  The cake turned out pretty moist actually and I credit that to the blackberries, the juices of which kept the crumb soft and moist.  One thing that was off in the recipe at least for me though was the baking time.  It took way longer than the time stated by the author -- it actually took more than an hour to bake.  Even after 40 minutes the batter was nowhere near being set and I think this is because I used frozen and unthawed blackberries which I think released so much juices which affected the temperature of the batter and all that.  I noticed that the frozen blackberries that I used had some ice crystals in them so the water content of the berries definitely affected the cake's baking time.  I wonder if I would get the same results If I had used fresh berries instead.  I hope some of you did so I would get some feedback with regards to the baking time.

Overall, this was an excellent coffee cake and I think a mixture of berries like raspberries, strawberries and blueberries would even add more flavor to the cake.  I kind of found the cinnamon to be a bit overpowering so I would omit adding it to the batter next time and just rely on the toppings for the cinnamon flavor.

Marionberry-Hazelnut Cake
From the book "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas

1 1/4 cups ground hazelnut meal or almond meal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh or frozen marionberries, or mixed blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
2 tablespoons demerara or turbinado sugar
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, or chopped or sliced or slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.  Scatter the nut meal on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly toasted.  Let cool.  Increase the oven temperature to 350 F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and almond extract and beat until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted nut meal, flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Stir to blend.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat until smooth.  Spread the better evenly in the prepared pan.  Scatter the berries evenly over the top.  Toss the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon with the Demerara or turbinado sugar and nuts and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is set when pressed lightly and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the pan sides.  Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

Makes one 9-inch cake; serves 10 to 12

NOTE: Hazelnut and almond meal, or flour, is available in specialty food stores, or you can grind the nuts finely in a food processor (hazelnuts should be toasted and skinned first).