Wednesday, August 4, 2010

easy hazelnut cake can be made gluten-free - recipe: hazelnut cake (aka the easiest cake ever)

My Mom, son John and I were recently invited to spend a day at the lake with our lifelong family friends Mae & Clair Rogers as well as their daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Joseph Stemmler.

My grandmother and Mae were good friends, as were their mothers. Mae is like a ‘special aunt’ to my mom, and she is certainly special to my brother Adam and me, as she was our much beloved part-time caregiver for a number of years.

The Rogers’ and Stemmler’s are the most calm and kind people I know. When we pulled into the driveway of their Habermehl Lake cottage, they were waiting for us, waving and smiling. You’d be rather hard-pressed to find them harried or stressed.

They treated us to a delicious lunch consisting of creamy Italian chicken, steamed rice, a delicious tossed salad with balsamic vinaigrette, Mae’s jellied pineapple, carrot & nut salad, and marinated vegetables.

As we were 'oohing' and 'aahing' over the food, Karen explained that she wanted to serve an easy, make-ahead meal so that she could spend her time catching up, not cooking. The chicken was made in a slow cooker while the rice did its thing in a rice cooker. Everything else was prepared in advance.

It is my opinion that your guests can sense your mood upon arrival, and if you’re stressed, rushing around and/or exhausted, they’ll be bound to feel at least a little bit guilty. This is just one of the many reasons why I’m a firm believer of preparing make-ahead menus when you’re entertaining at home. The whole point is to relax, have fun and enjoy the company of your guests. As the “Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten frequently states; “your guests aren’t going to have more fun if you spend a week making the food!”

After a relaxing boat ride (but also very exciting, as this was Johnny’s first time in a motor boat!) we sat at a cozy outdoor table to enjoy dessert. The dessert was a delicious hazelnut cake with ice cream and fresh berries. I sheepishly asked for the recipe (not everyone likes to share!) and Karen promptly made a photocopy for me.

This cake is called “the easiest cake ever” because it contains only 5 ingredients and it’s prepared in a blender! It can also be prepared gluten-free. (it calls for only 2 tablespoons of ANY flour – and when I tested the recipe, I used rice flour with great results).

It was a memorable day – full of reminiscing and laughter all at a relaxed pace; in part made possible by simply prepping the meal the day before.

hazelnut cake (a.k.a. the easiest cake ever)


  • 1 (one) cup hazelnuts (skins left on)
  • 2 (two) tablespoons flour (any kind – use rice flour for gluten-free)
  • 2½ (two-and-one-half) teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ (three-quarters) cup sugar or honey
  • 4 (four) eggs


  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • Place nuts in a blender and blend on high speed until they are finely ground.
  • Add all other ingredients to the blender and blend until everything is incorporated.
  • Pour batter into a parchment lined 9” by 9” square cake pan.
  • Bake at 350º F for 20 – 30 minutes. Test with toothpick.
  • Serve with ice cream or Devon cream or whipped cream and berries

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