Hazel Cake, 1923

Posted in - Mrs C.S. Peel's Recipes & Peacetime on March 12th 2014 0 Comments

There is definitely something hugely indulgence about a cake with layers.  How about doubling the quantity and therefore height and really producing a sumptious treat?  That is what I will do next time….


In the words of Granny Dot:

‘4 oz. of flour; 4 oz. of butter; 4 oz. of sugar; 1 teaspoonful of baking powder; 2 eggs; 2 oz. of hazel nuts; 1 teaspoonful of coffee essence; a little milk; butter icing for filling; white, chocolate or coffee glace icing or mnilk frosting.

Chop the nuts and roast them under the grill until well browned, taking care to toss and turn them about so that they do not burn.  Reserve a few whole nuts for decoration.  Warm a cake-tin, rub the inside with butter or margarine, flour it well and shake out any flour that does not adhere to the sides of the tin.  Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs.  Cream the butter, add the sugar and cream again.  Sieve together  the flour and the baking powder.  Beat in the egg-yolks one at a time.  Gradually and lightly sift in the flour alternately with a few spoonfuls of milk.  Add the chopped nuts and the coffee essence.  Add the stiffly whipped egg-whites  Bake in a moderate oven (Regulo 5, 425 Elec.) for about 45 minutes.  Leave in the tin to cool a little before turning out.  Slice into layers, spread with coffee butter icing and built back into position.  Ice with glace icing or milk frosting and garnish with whole hazel nuts.’

(My Own Cookery Book, 1923, Mrs C. S. Peel)

Often Granny Dot’s cakes are half the size of a standard cake.  This is therefore a single sponge which you divide into three layers which heightens it.  It is topped with a glace icing which makes it very sweet, so perhaps to just add some florets of the coffee icing, 70’s style, with some hazelnuts on top is a preference.  I give you a photograph of it in its original form.

4 oz./110g of butter
4 oz./110g of caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoonful of coffee essence
4 oz./110g flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 oz./55g of hazel nuts plus a few for decoration (roughly chopped and roasted for about 4 minutes in a hot oven, to bring out their flavour )
a little milk
butter icing for filling
white, chocolate or coffee glace icing or milk frosting

6 oz/170g butter
10 oz./280g icing sugar
1 tbsp espresso or coffee essence

1. Prepare a cake tin (or two if you have doubled the quantities for a higher cake) by buttering it and then tapping flour over the butter. Tip it over a bin to tap out the excess.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the egg yolks and the coffee essence.
4. Add the flour and baking powder, mix and then add the chopped hazelnuts.
5.  Beat the egg whites to medium/stiff peak and stir a spoonful in before folding in the remainder.
6.  Place in the cake tin(s) and put in the oven for twenty minutes.
7. Cool in the tin and when ready, remove it from the tin.  With a very sharp and long knife, slice it in three (two per round if you have 2 rounds, 3 for 1).
8.  Whip up the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy and add some coffee essence, or espresso until the strength is to your liking (about 2 tbsp)
9.  Spread the icing over the layers and save some for florets on top.  Top with hazelnuts.
If you prefer, do as Granny Dot advises and mix 125g of icing sugar with enough strong coffee to make a paste.  Heat it up and drizzle over the top as I did.  It is a little too sweet this way, but up to you.

10.  This cake was eaten so quickly by a man building a gate, a lady helping with the garden, a man plugging the enormous cracks in the floor of our foundationless thatched house which has flooded, our neighbour and her boyfriend who has just had a stent put in his heart, me, my Romanian friend, my two children and my husband – so it feeds 10!


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