Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Esterhazy Cake

For the month of January, Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

This month's challenge was exactly that:  A challenge!  It took me many hours over the course of three days to tackle this one.  And a dozen eggs. And 3 pounds of hazelnuts. And 3 sticks of butter.  It's a rich one, and is a rewarding experience both to make and to serve at the table.

A brief story behind this cake:  In the 19th century, a confectioner from Budapest baked and named the Esterhazy Torte after the wealthy Prince Paul III Anton Esterhazy de Galantha, a member of the Esterhazy dynasty and diplomat of the Austrian Empire.

I am loving all these ancient recipes that are coming down the pipe in the Daring Bakers club!  You know it's a good one when people are still talking about it 200 years later...

Esterhazy Cake
Recipe Source:  http://foodforthought-jelena.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/esterhazi-torta.html
Servings: 10-12



12 large egg whites
1 cup superfine baking sugar
Seeds scraped from one half of a vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups ground hazelnuts
2/3 cup all-purpose flour


12 large egg yolks
1 cup superfine baking sugar
Seeds scraped from one half of a vanilla bean
1 1/3 cups butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups toasted ground hazelnuts

3 tablespoons apricot jam, strained
1 teaspoon water

¼ cup dark chocolate
1 teaspoon oil
1 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts

About 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
About 4 tablespoons hot water



Place 6 cups of whole hazelnuts on a sheet pan in a cold oven.  Increase the temperature to 350F and bake for about 15 minutes until a nice aroma starts to come out of the oven and the nuts have darkened.  Begin checking them often.  Continue until their skins turn very dark brown and the hazelnut 'meat' becomes a caramel color.  Cool completely before grinding/chopping in a food processor as needed for the recipe.


Preheat the oven to 325F.  Cut parchment paper into five squares large enough to draw a 10 inch circle on the paper.  Trace a 10 inch circle on each piece of parchment.

With an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites and vanilla seeds while gradually adding the sugar.  Beat for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.  Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add in the hazelnuts and flour and mix until barely combined.  Fold with a rubber spatula until no white streaks remain in the batter.

 Flip one piece of parchment over (you can see the pencil on the other side) and place it on the flat bottom of a sheet pan.   Evenly spread one-fifth of the sponge cake batter in the circle.

Bake for 14 minutes until soft but not sticky.  Repeat with each sheet of parchment, baking each round of cake on the flat bottom of a cooled sheet pan.  You will have five rounds of cake.  Cool each cake completely while still on the paper.


The filling is cooked in a double boiler or a bowl set in a pot with an inch of boiling water.  Be careful that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric mixer in the smaller pot/bowl (not on the stove yet) for 30 seconds. Place the smaller pot/bowl into the larger one and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly thickened and evenly colored. There will be some darker yellow streaks showing when you stir and all will be a lighter yellow when it’s done.  While it cooks, stir every few minutes, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Stir constantly near the end.  Let the filling cool completely.

Beat the cooled cooked yolks for 30 seconds with an electric mixer.  In a separate bowl, beat the room temperature butter with vanilla seeds for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, then mix this into the cooked yolk filling.  Add in the ground hazelnuts and beat again until combined.

Set aside ¼ cup of the filling to spread around the torte at the end.


Line a large tray with parchment paper.  Remove the paper from one of the cake rounds and place it onto the tray.  Spread one quarter of the remaining filling evenly over the cake, then place another layer on the top.  Repeat, making sure that the last layer of cake is placed bottom-side-up, but do not spread filling on this top surface.

Place some parchment paper over the torte. Press with your hands to even it out, put another tray over the torte and place something slightly heavy on the top to allow the torte to level up.  Place the whole torte with the weight in the fridge for one hour.  After the cake has chilled, trim the messy edges to round the cake and straighten the sides.


Heat the apricot jam and water on the stove until melted.  Remove the paper from the torte and spread the jam on top of it. You want a very thin layer, just barely covering the torte.  Place the torte back in the fridge for 30 minutes for the jam to cool.

Spread the reserved hazelnut filling around the sides of the cake.


Melt the chocolate with a teaspoon of oil.  Place in a piping bag with a tiny tip or a plastic bag with a tiny snip in the corner that will act as the tip.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, oil and lemon juice while adding teaspoon by teaspoon of hot water until the mixture is creamy and very thick. Mix well.  With a hot wet knife quickly spread the icing over the top of the torte.

Immediately draw a spiral of chocolate onto the cake, then quickly, using a wooden skewer or knife tip run lines from the center of the cake to the edge. Each line should run in a different direction. One running away from the center and the next one running to the center.  Do not delay on the chocolate decoration process or the chocolate will cool and set up.

Press the remaining crushed hazelnuts around the sides of the cake to complete the decoration.  Let rest in the fridge for 24 hours before serving.




  1. Lovely job! Spiraling the chocolate is genius. Wish I'd thought of that!

  2. Wow wow wow wow Hannah
    I am speechless!
    Wonderful job you did :)

  3. We've had many pieces of an Esterhazy torote in Vienna and this sure looks like the real thing.... I must tackle and make this.... Now when do I have a special occasion... We can't have this sitting around in the house for two, too long...we will gain weight!


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