Gluten Free Hazelnut Cake with Orange Syrup

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Although I personally fully enjoy foods containing gluten, I have clients and friends who have gluten sensitivities, and have trouble digesting the protein. When creating recipes for specific diets, I work towards cooking something that uses natural ingredients, not manufactured substitutes that trick the palate. I do my best to create dishes that are delicious as they are, rather than ones that try to emulate something they are not. This cake is not a recreation of a glutenous counterpart, it was created to showcase the rich nuttiness of hazelnuts. The cake itself has 3 ingredients, highlighting the clean, simple flavors of real food. 

Hazelnuts are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and protein. They contain magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, calcium, and selenium. Hazelnuts are also are rich in vitamins K and E, and heart healthy fats such as oleic acid that have been shown to reduce cholesterol.

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I choose to pair this cake with orange, but it's simplicity makes is incredibly versatile for all seasons and flavors. I have also served it with roasted rhubarb, rhubarb simple syrup and whipped ricotta. It is light and nutty on it's own, and pairs wonderfully with something creamy such as ricotta, yogurt, marscapone or whipped cream.

Gluten Free Hazelnut Cake with Orange GlazeFor the syrup
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange

In a saucepan, combine sugar and orange juice and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest.

For the cake
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 cups hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8” or 9” round baking pans and line with parchment paper.

In small batches, grind hazelnuts in a food processor until light and sand like—be careful not to over process or you will end up with hazelnut butter (see photo above). In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold the hazelnut flour into the yolk mixture. In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and glossy, then gently fold them into the hazelnut mixture. (You can also use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the egg whites.)

Pour the batter into the two prepared pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the cake from the oven and evenly pour the cooled orange syrup over the top. Allow cakes to cool, and gently remove from pans, and stack cakes. Serve with sweetened greek yogurt or frozen yogurt. To sweeten yogurt, fold in some of the orange syrup or some honey.