This Vanilla Almond Hazelnut Praline cake combines the subtle vanilla flavour in the cake sponges with the bittersweet caramelised nuttiness from the almond hazelnut praline in the form of crushed praline for some crunch and praline flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting.
When it comes to a nice thick slice of cake, you don’t need a reason for celebration. This holds even more true, when the cake is as decadent as this Vanilla Almond Hazelnut Praline Cake. This cake recipe was actually developed after my actual plans to make a white chocolate cake went down south. The idea was to caramelise the white chocolate and make ganache out of it. Then coat the layers with this ganache and make a hazelnut praline for crunch and texture.
However, I think I got the wrong kind of white chocolate. We don’t get too many good quality options here when it comes to white chocolate. Or if we do, I’m not aware of these! Anyways, I’m glad it didn’t turn out the way I expected. This kitchen disaster led to this beauty of a cake, which I think would be an instant hit in any household. Because, what’s not to like?
The cake layers are flavoured with vanilla extract. The fluffy moistness in this cake is provided by some tart buttermilk. You can use store bought buttermilk. However, I’ve recently started churning my own butter at home. We collect the cream from our full fat milk every day and at the end of the week, we get my trusty KitchenAid machine and using the whisk attachment, whip this cream for a good 7 – 8 minutes. The butter starts separating from the rest of the mix and once we’ve churned that, we’re left with the buttermilk. I love using this homemade buttermilk in my baked goods because it tends to add a delectably moistness and flavour to the cakes.
These vanilla flavoured sponges were extremely delicious, fragrant and melt in your mouth. This when combined with the silky smooth Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting flavoured with the Almond Hazelnut Praline Paste, was irresistible and absolutely decadent.
I’ve made my own Praline using Almonds and Hazelnuts. I think you do get praline pastes packages as well, but I honestly prefer making my own simply because it is free from any kind of additives and I know exactly what has gone into making this praline paste. Also, it’s super simple. It barely takes 6 – 7 minutes to prepare the caramel and pour over a tray containing all the nuts. Sprinkle quickly with some sea salt and once it hardens, break them into tiny shards. Reserve a few for decoration and blitz half into a crumble and make a paste from the rest. Boom, you’ve got the recipe for the most decadent Vanilla Almond Hazelnut Praline Cake.
Savour this with a cup of hot chai, eat it as part of your celebrations with a tall glass of Prosecco or just by itself. You will fall in love with this, just the way I did!
- 200 grams all purpose flour
- 200 grams caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 200 grams salted butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 175 mls buttermilk
- 240 grams caster sugar
- 85 mls water
- 150 grams almonds
- 90 grams hazelnut
- 4 egg whites (120 grams)
- 240 grams caster sugar
- 350 grams butter
- 200 grams praline paste
- To make the Vanilla Buttermilk cake layers, first preheat oven to 160 C / 325 F
- Sift the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. This includes the flour, caster sugar, baking powder.
- I've used salted butter in this recipe but if you use unsalted, then also add 1/4th teaspoon of salt in the dry mix while sifting.
- To this mix, add butter and mix on low speed until the butter is uniformly combined with the flour mix.
- You may have to use a spatula to go around the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined.
- Add the eggs and Vanilla extract
- Give a good mix on medium speed for about 1 minute.
- Scrape the sides and bottom again.
- Add the buutermilk. Initially, mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium high and mix for 2 minutes.
- Grease 2 six inch cake tins with butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Distribute the batter as evenly as possible between the two tins and bake for about 30 - 35 mins or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake emerges clean and the cake itself feels springy to the touch.
- Let the cakes stay in the tin for about 20 minutes, then invert them onto cooling racks ensuring that their tops remain on top.
- Let them cool completely, preferably overnight. To do so, you can wrap the layers in cling film.
- In a non stick tray, place the almonds and hazelnuts.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add caster sugar and water.
- On medium heat, cook the water and sugar mix until its dissolved and starts to go amber in colour.
- Do not stir this mix as it can crystallise the sugar.
- Pour this hot sugar caramel over the nuts. Please be careful as the mix is extremely hot and you can seriously burn yourself if you come in contact with the hot liquid.
- Whilst the caramel is still liquid, quickly sprinkle some sea salt generously over the liquid.
- Once set, about 30 minutes later, break the pralines into shards.
- Reserve a few for decoration.
- Divide the rest into two parts.
- Weigh 200 grams of this praline, make it into a paste by continuously blitzing in the food processor until it resembles a paste, about 6 - 8 minutes.
- Crush the rest either by pulsing in a food processor or adding them to a ziplock bag and beating them with a rolling pin.
- In a saucepan, fill water up to an inch and bring it to a simmer.
- In a clean metal bowl, add your egg whites and caster sugar. Place it over the simmering water ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl, whisk it. You must continue whisking until all the sugar has dissolved, and when the mix is rubbed between two of your fingers, it does not feel gritty. This will approximately take 3 - 4 minutes.
- Once the mixture is ready, take it off the heat. If using a stand mixer, I prefer using the bowl that I would be using to beat it in; you can also use a hand mixer.
- Start beating the warmed egg white and sugar mix on medium high speed until the sides of your bowl feel at room temperature. Do not add anything else to the mix when the bowl still feels warm, your frosting will become a melted mess.
- Once the bowl feels normal (room temperature), this will take approximately 10 minutes, start adding your room temperature butter, one cube at a time until it is well incorporated.
- Once you’ve added all the butter, start adding the praline paste.
- The frosting at this stage will look like it has split, but don’t be worried, it will come together.
- Beat this for a good minute.
- Once combined, whip the frosting for about 30 - 45 seconds more and it will be ready.
- If you stay in a cool country, the frosting can be kept at room temperature, however, if like me, you live in a warm country, you can refrigerate it. Before using it again though, take it to room temperature and then whisk for 1 minute on medium high speed.
- Level off the cake layers using a cake leveler. Make cake balls from the leftover cake scraps by mixing with some frosting. Make them into balls and roll in cocoa powder.
- To assemble the cake, slice one cake layer into two equal parts. This way there would be 4 layers.
- Add the frosting then top it with the praline cumble.
- Place second layer on the top and repeat with the rest.
- Frost the outside and top of the cake with the buttercream frosting.
- Crumb coat the cake, pop into refrigerator for 4 - 5 hours or in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Repeat with a second coating, please follow my video tutorial in this blog post to get a clear understanding on how you can frost the cake.
- Top with the reserved praline shards and cake balls.
- Coat the bottom of the cake with the crumbled praline.