This one bowl Xmas cake gets a delicious flavor from roasted hazelnuts and almonds and is frosted with a fluffy vanilla buttercream.
I call this Xmas scented cake because it features all the festive flavors we all like such as roasted nuts, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon and orange. And though I always make it on Christmas or for New Year’s Eve, I don’t stop there. I make it several times around the year, simply because it’s something that makes my day a little bit better. I just skip the frosting and decorations and eat it plain, as breakfast or as a snack. Yes guys, you can have cake for breakfast. I mean… not every day, but it won’t hurt once in a while 🙂
I’m really excited about this Xmas cake! It’s one of my all time favorites! And I don’t say my top favorite because I could never choose only one recipe to put at the top. Through the years I’ve gathered a lot of different recipes and after testing and tasting a LOT, I’ve ended up with a small collection I can call “my PRECIOUS!”… Honestly, how could I choose among a pure chocolate mousse cake, a healthy olive oil, lemon, coconut and carrot cake, a Grandma’s apple crumble pie cake, a super tender white chocolate cake or a mocha, caramel and peanuts mousse cake??? Yes, a lot of cake recipes to follow in the future :). Every cake has its own unique character and is perfect for different occasions or even different moods. (I have a fun theory that depending on our mood we’re prone to choose different flavors, but I’ll leave this for another post)
Back to the cake now! Its smell is pretty awesome. And how can it not be? Freshly roasted and finely ground hazelnuts and almonds, a splash of good Madagascar vanilla extract, a teaspoon of warm cinnamon, some caramel-y brown sugar, a shot of brandy and a teaspoon of orange zest. Make it and I guarantee you, you’ll think you’re in some kind of Christmas fairytale! Also, this recipe uses the one bowl method, meaning that you first mix all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of your electric mixer and then add the liquids.
Bonus: no sifting the flour required!
With this method, the soft butter covers the flour granules and prohibits some of the gluten development. This results in a very tender, soft and moist cake. Very important though, is to bring all of the ingredients at room temperature first! I first read about this method in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible, and after baking my first cake from this book, I was in Seventh Heaven. The cake was so delicate, with a fine crumb, so moist and fluffy that I couldn’t believe myself! In the Cake Bible, most cakes are made with bleached cake flour, so I’ve altered the basic recipe in order to use plain, unbleached all purpose flour which is more available and easier to find. I’ve also added some nuts and some other things like brandy and cinnamon. Finely ground nuts, except from the taste, release some healthy oils into the batter, making it even more tender and delicious, and contribute into a really soft texture.
- Again, I’ll remind you that all of the ingredients should be at room temperature (about 71 Fahrenheit / 22 Celsius)
- If your home is colder than that, open the oven light (only the light, NOT the oven) and place the ingredients inside for about half an hour.
- For cold, refrigerated eggs, just deep them in a bowl of hot water for 10-15 minutes
- For cold butter, microwave in very short increments until soft (not melted), stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- This cake is decorated with some inverted rosemary sprigs.
- For the cakes
- 3 cups (400 grams) all purpose flour
- 5 teaspoons (20 grams) baking powder
- ¾ cups (60 grams) roasted almond and hazelnuts mix
- 1 ¾ cups (350 grams) sugar
- ¼ cups (50 grams) brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (230 grams) soft butter
- 4 medium eggs (200 grams), room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (270 grams) milk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) vanilla
- Zest from half an orange (or a whole one for stronger orange flavor)
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) brandy
- For the fluffy buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, 250 grams), softened
- 4-5 cups (500-625 grams) confectioners (powdered) sifted sugar (you’ll adjust this according to your preference)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3-4 tablespoons milk (you’ll adjust this according to your preference)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease and line with baking paper two 8-inch round pans.
- In a food processor, process one cup flour, one cup sugar and the nuts until nuts are finely ground (processing nuts with the flour and sugar, helps the nuts become finely ground like flour, without turning pasty)
- In the bowl of your electric mixer combine all of the dry ingredients and mix for 10-20 seconds until well combined.
- Add the butter and mix on low speed until mixture resembles like wet sand.
- Combine wet ingredients, zest and eggs in a jug and mix with a fork just to break down the eggs.
- Add about three quarters of the wet ingredients in the bowl and beat on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl half way. You will see the mixture to lighten in color and get fluffier.
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat for another 1 minute until well combined.
- Divide mixture in two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Invert onto a rack and let the cakes cool.
- For the buttercream, beat butter and 3 and ½ cups sugar on low speed until well incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat well for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy.
- Add the salt, cinnamon, vanilla and two tablespoons milk and beat to incorporate.
- Taste the buttercream and add more sugar or milk to your preference, until you get the consistency you want, and beat it some more. The more you beat it, the fluffier it will get!
- When cakes are cooled, frost with buttercream and decorate with hazelnuts and inverted rosemary sprigs.
If your home is colder than that, open the oven light (only the light, NOT the oven) and place the ingredients inside for about half an hour.