Triple Layer Hazelnut Spice Cake
- 2 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as raisins or apricots and/or cherries chopped to the size of raisins
- 1 cup rum or apple juice
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 6 ounces hazelnuts (1 1/4 cups), toasted* and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Homemade Lemon Curd or 1/2 cup purchased lemon curd and 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- CANDIED HAZELNUTS (OPTIONAL)
- 16 hazelnuts
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light-color corn syrup
In a medium bowl soak dried fruit in rum at least an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then butter paper.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
In a large bowl beat sugar, oil, sour cream, and molasses with a mixer on medium-high until just combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Strain fruit, adding any liquid to batter and setting aside fruit.
Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl; add half the milk and mix to combine. Add half the remaining flour mixture then remaining milk, scraping sides of bowl and mixing just to combine between additions. Beat in remaining flour until batter is combined and uniform. Fold in hazelnuts and soaked fruit. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in pans on wire racks. Remove from pans. If desired, wrap and freeze cakes up to 1 month.
*TO TOAST NUTS:
Spread hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, shaking pan once or twice. To remove hazelnuts' papery skins, rub warm nuts in a clean, dry kitchen towel until skins come loose.
In an extra-large bowl beat unsalted butter and powdered sugar with a mixer on medium 3 to 4 minutes or until fluffy. (The mixture may appear crumbly at first but will come together.) Beat in vanilla.
In a large bowl fold together buttercream and Homemade Lemon Curd. Spread a thick layer between cake layers, then frost cake with remaining. Secure cake layers with long skewers, if necessary, until set. Loosely cover and refrigerate up to 1 day. Let stand 1 hour before serving.
FOR CANDIED HAZELNUTS:
Note: Save these until an hour or two before you're ready to top and serve the cake; humidity and temperature can wilt the caramel strands.
Set a heavy cutting board or 15x11-inch baking pan along the edge of the counter. (Skewers will wedge under the cutting board while candied hazelnuts set.) Place parchment paper on floor below to catch caramel drips.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan. Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until toasted. Transfer to a towel; rub to remove loose skins. Gently twist a wood skewer into each hazelnut while warm; set aside.
In a medium saucepan stir together sugar, the water, and corn syrup. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down any sugar crystals on sides of saucepan as mixture comes to boil. Bring mixture to boiling over medium-high without stirring. Reduce heat to medium. Once mixture starts to caramelize (about 15 minutes), remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dip a skewered hazelnut into caramel and lift to see if caramel is ready. When caramel coats hazelnut and drips off in long strands, secure end of skewer under cutting board, letting caramel drip onto the parchment paper below. Repeat with remaining hazelnuts. Let stand until caramel is set, about 15 minutes.
Gently twist skewers to release hazelnuts; arrange on cake.
If desired, arrange Candied Hazelnuts or spun sugar on cake. Makes 18 servings.