• 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted; OR 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil (see NOTES)
• 2 ¼ cups toasted, skinned hazelnuts, cooled (see NOTES)
• ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 packet lievito pane degli angeli or 2 teaspoons baking powder (see NOTES)
• 4 eggs, separated
• 1 cup sugar
• Pinch of fine salt
• Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
• Warm heavy cream sweetened with sugar (optional)
• Heat the oven to 350℉. Coat a 9-inch cake pan with about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and coat the parchment with butter. Set the remaining melted butter aside.
• Process the cooled toasted hazelnuts in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until they are finely ground. Take care not to let them get pasty. Transfer them to a bowl and stir in the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. The mixture will be very thick and cling to the whisk. Drizzle in the remaining melted butter (or melted butter and hazelnut oil, if using), a little at a time, whisking until the butter has been fully incorporated.
• Using a sturdy silicone spatula, stir the hazelnut-flour mixture into the egg yolk-butter mixture. It will be as thick as nut paste. This is fine.
• In a clean, stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Scoop about ½ of the egg whites into the bowl with the nut paste mixture and begin stirring and folding it in with the spatula. This will help to loosen the batter a bit. Add half of the remaining egg whites, folding rather than stirring them into the batter to prevent them from deflating too much (the batter will still be thick and sticky). Finally, add the last of the whites and continue folding until they are incorporated into the batter. The batter will be thick but spreadable. Scrape it into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
• Bake the cake for 40 – 45 minutes, until puffed and browned on top and the center is no longer jiggling (a cake tester inserted in the center should come out clean). Be careful not to jostle the cake when you’re checking for doneness. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack,in the pan for 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto a plate and peel off the parchment. Re-invert and let cool completely. Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar and with warm sweetened cream for drizzling.
NOTES: Hazelnut oil is not cheap, but an optional splurge to enhance the nut flavor of the cake. To toast and skin hazelnuts: Heat the oven to 350℉. Spread the shelled nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 10 minutes, or until the skins have begun to crack. Wrap the hot nuts in a clean kitchen towel and let stand 1 minute. Roll the nuts back and forth in the towel to loosen and rub off the skins. Not all the skins will come off, which is fine. Let cool before processing. Lievito pane degli angeli is a vanilla-scented powdered leavening agent used in Italian baking. It’s sold in packets and found in most Italian groceries. You can substitute 2 teaspoons baking powder.
In the center of the Langhe, among the hills celebrated in Cesare Pavese’s poems, you can find Luca Bosio Vineyards winery, in a world where technology and rural tradition coexist. Egidio was the founder of the Bosio’s farm, father of the owner Valter, profound expert of the wines of that zone. The grapes from this wine come from vineyards located in Santo Stefano Belbo and Alba Villages. The average age of the vines is 40 years. Grapes are pressed and the must is fermented in steel tanks after a short period in contact with dry ice to increase complexity and aroma. This wine is a perfect accompaniment to read meats, braised beef and pork, as well as an array of Italian cheeses, pastas and risotto.
“Ruby red in color, this Barbera exhibits aromas of red fruit chocolate and vanilla. The aromas follow through the round and smooth palate. A well integrated wine with silky tannins leading to a smooth finish.” – Luca Bosio, winemaker
Winemaker: Luca Bosio
Appellation: Piedmont, Italy
Varietal Blend: 100% Barbera
Analysis: 14% alcohol / volume, 3.5 pH, 5.5 g/l TA
Critical Acclaim: Reviewed and approved by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine