Burnt butter hazelnut cake

Burnt butter hazelnut cake

Danielle Wood

The burnt butter in this cake contributes to the nutty flavour of the toasted hazelnuts. Toasting nuts before baking with them is a great way to bring out their flavour. The rounded top that the bundt tin gives this cake is perfect for drizzling icing over and the pretty details mean that you don’t need to do too much in the way of decorating.

For the cake:


Quantity Ingredient
250g unsalted butter
225g soft light brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for grinding the nuts
125g blanched hazelnuts
175g plain flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the candied hazelnuts:

Quantity Ingredient
150g caster sugar
300ml water
50g blanched hazelnuts

For the icing:

Quantity Ingredient
250g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons frangelico hazelnut liqueur, (optional)
25g unsalted butter


Quantity Ingredient
20cm bundt tin or round, deep cake tin
sugar thermometer


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease the bundt or cake tin. Melt the butter over a medium heat and simmer until it turns a deep golden brown and starts to smell nutty. Pass the melted butter through a sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the sugar. Set aside to cool.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts for the cake out on to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5–8 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly. Using a food processor, finely grind the hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of the soft light brown sugar – avoid over-processing as the mixture will become greasy
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a clean bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the cooled butter mixture and beat to combine. Gradually add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Finally, gently fold in the ground hazelnuts.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the oven on for the candied hazelnuts. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn it out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  5. While the cake is cooling, make the candied hazelnuts and the icing. To make the candied hazelnuts, gently heat the sugar and water in a medium pan with a sugar thermometer attached and swirl until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to 121°C (this will take up to 10 minutes; remember to keep an eye on the temperature as it will increase quite quickly towards the end). Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts out on to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5–8 minutes until golden brown. Line another baking tray with baking parchment. As soon the sugar syrup has reached 121°C, turn off the heat and stir in the warm hazelnuts. Keep stirring until the clear syrup coats the nuts and turns crunchy and white. Tip the hazelnuts onto the prepared baking tray and separate with fork.
  6. To make the icing, beat the icing sugar, hazelnut liqueur or 2–3 tablespoons of water and butter in a bowl until smooth. The icing should be opaque but thin enough to run down the sides of the cake.
  7. To assemble the cake, beat the icing until smooth again. With the cake on the wire rack, drizzle a generous amount of icing over the top. Decorate with the candied hazelnuts and transfer to a cake stand or plate.
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