It's always the wafting aromas that transport me. My mother, from Manchester, and my father, from Berlin, met after World War II in England. That's where we grew up, surrounded by love and culinary madness: everything from tripe to trifle (from Mummy's side) to carp with beer and this special occasion hazelnut torte (from Papa's side). We children just thought it was normal! I think my mother tried very hard to accommodate my demanding father; like with this recipe, so simple yet so delicious in it's simplicity. I believe it was from our German grandmother. We always asked for it on birthdays. —JaneMiami
Test Kitchen Notes
As the author noted, this cake's aroma is beguiling. Its simplicity called to me as well, as recipes with multiple ingredients competing for attention too often prevent full appreciation of each flavor. While combinations can be magical, here, the solo hazelnuts are delightful, and the sweetness is just enough. My husband tasted it before it cooled completely, repeated how it was perfect, and went to get another piece. It is, indeed, difficult to resist another piece...and another. —Marcia Coakley
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line the base of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
Roast hazelnuts in oven on a large baking tray, until skins are cracked & they are quite golden and fragrant. Be careful not to walk away as they burn very easily.
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F
Toast your hazelnuts, then put them directly into a dry, large dishcloth. Rub them together to remove & discard the majority of the skins. Don't worry if there are some skins left on the nuts; it enhances their flavor! Let the hazelnuts cool completely.
Chop the cooled hazelnuts finely in your food processor, and then set aside. (I find that it is easier to do this 4 ounces at a time, so that you have more control over the grind.)
Whisk the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla together until frothy and light, and the sugar is dissolved. I start with 5 egg yolks then add another if it seems too heavy. Add the finely chopped hazelnuts.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them into the nut mixture. Place into a prepared springform pan
Bake at 425° F for the first 10 minutes, then lower the oven to 375° F and continue baking for another 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the springform pan for at least 15 minutes, then remove the collar by a running knife inside it. When completely cool sift powdered sugar over the top; I use a vanilla-scented sugar. Devour slowly!