BROWN BUTTER HAZELNUT LAYER CAKE
- 6 ounces dry roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, optional as needed
- 2 cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- ½ cup hazelnut flour, substitute almond flour or all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup brown butter, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup whole milk
Brown Butter Buttercream
- 1 ½ cups brown butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, as needed
1. I highly recommend making the cake layers and the brown butter for the buttercream the night before so that they both have time to fully cool!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the chopped hazelnuts in an even layer. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has melted and turns a deep amber color.
Immediately pour the sugar over the hazelnuts and spread into an even layer. Let cool to room temperature.
Once cool, break into large chunks and set aside about ¼ of the chunks to use to decorate the cake.
Add the remaining chunks to a food processor and blend for about 5 minutes or until it forms a thick paste about the consistency of peanut butter. Initially it will form a fine powder and then continue to blend until a past forms. If the mixture still isn't forming a paste after blending for a few minutes, add vegetable oil 1 teaspoon at a time until it forms a thick paste.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray.
Whisk the cake flour, hazelnut flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the brown butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until combined.
Then add in the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix together until smooth.
Stir in about half of the flour mixture. Then stir in the milk and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thick.
Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full).
Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight (minimum 30 minutes).
Brown Butter Buttercream
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the softened brown butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.
Add in the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined. Then beat the buttercream for 3-4 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy.
If the buttercream is too thick, add in the cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Assemble the Cake
Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top. Then pipe a thick border of buttercream around the edge. Spoon some of the hazelnut praline paste evenly over the middle (about ¼ cup). Place the next layer on top and repeat.
Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible. Spread a thin layer of buttercream (your crumb coat) over the top and sides of the cake. Then place the cake back in the freezer for 30-60 minutes.
If desired, set aside a small amount of buttercream in a piping back to decorate the top of the cake (a little less than 1 cup is plenty). Evenly smooth the rest of the buttercream on the top and sides of your cake as desired.
For the mottled look on the sides of the cake, place a few small dollops of leftover praline at random places on the side of the cake, and then smooth into the buttercream.
Pipe the remaining buttercream around the top edge of the cake (I used a Wilton 1M tip in these photos). Then sprinkle the remaining chunks of praline over top.
Refrigerate your cake for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.
This recipe is designed for 3 six inch cake pans. It will also work with 2 eight inch cake pans.
Cover and store the cake in the fridge for up to 4 days. Freeze any leftover buttercream for up to 3 months, just place in the fridge overnight to thaw.
Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir frequently and watch closely for the formation of brown specs on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma. Once you see brown specs, stir for just a few more seconds (it browns super quickly). Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a different bowl to prevent it from burning. Let cool to room temperature. I recommend making the brown butter the night before you make the cake, so that it has time to fully cool to room temperature!
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