Usually, I don't know what I'm going to bake at first: normally I start with an ingredient then think about what I'm going to make with it later. I get out all the cook books, spreading them out across the table and flick through their glossy pages looking for inspiration. By the end they've inevitably sprawled out across the whole kitchen and there's already a mess before I've even got out the measuring scales.
Flicking through the cook books I went through a lot of hazelnut recipes: a hazelnut truffle torte (River cafe) - too rich I thought, spelt and cobnut fairy cakes (short and sweet) - too dainty maybe, and a gianduja gelato (the perfect scoop) - which would have been perfect, but I didn't have any cream on hand unfortunately. In another cookbook I also saw a bundt cake and, taking the idea of the gianduja (a chocolate and hazelnut paste like an Italian nutella) from the ice cream recipe, I thought I'd make a chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake. The cake is nicely moist from the ground and chopped hazelnuts, though still light and fluffy, with just a hint of chocolate from a little cocoa and drizzled with a smooth nutella chocolate glaze. The cake has quite a long baking time (1 hour 15 minutes) but stick with it - it's worth it.I actually have a hazelnut tree (although for some reason I've always known it as a cobnut) in the corner of the garden. It's quite a pretty tree, with slightly furry lime green leaves and tall, slender stems, holding delicate catkins at this time the year, coppiced into a crude circle.
Chocolate hazelnut bundt cake
Makes 1 large bundt cake
30 ml milk
15g cocoa powder
30g icing/confectioners' sugar
1. Beat together the nutella and milk until smooth then sifts the cocoa and sugar and beat again until smooth.
150g brown sugar
50g white caster sugar
150g sour cream
4 large eggs
10g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder, ground to a powder
300g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Toast the nuts in a dry pan until they are golden brown all over then leave to cool. Grind 2/3 (approximately) of the nuts to a fine flour the consistency of ground almonds (don't worry if there a a few chunky pieces). Chop the other 1/3 of the nuts so that some are almost whole and others are the consistency of coarse rock-salt. Set aside.
2. Sift the sugar into a bowl (brown sugar tends to come in lumps) then add the butter and cream until it's light and fluffy. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Next add the eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly until all combined.
3 . Sift in the cocoa, coffee powder, self-raising flour and baking powder and beat in (on low) until combined.
4. Pour into a greased and floured 2 litre bundt cake tin and bake in an oven preheated to 175C for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool then turn out and 'dribble' on the chocolate glaze.