Honey and Hazelnut Cake

Image of gifts from JoeRecipes, ‘Pam The Jam’ Corbyn once said to me on Twitter, are for sharing. So are ingredients. I recently sent a pot of Norfolk saffron to an American Facebook friend (yes, I fritter away far too much time on social media) and he responded with typical generosity.

Joe Pettit and his husband Andrew Fink run Clean Bite Catering in Washington state, producing local and seasonal food for clients around Seattle and South Sound, so they know their onions. And hazelnuts and honey.

Joe sent me a bag of raw Oregon hazelnuts, which he says are a scarce, seasonal treat and a jar of unfiltered Pacific Northwest wildflower honey. He also sent some organic flaked coconut, but that’s another story. Thank you, Joe, and thanks also to Jo Browse, the mutual friend who lugged all this bounty back to the UK for me.

The hazelnuts and honey are both delicious and I wanted to do them justice. I hope this recipe qualifies. Light, nutty (obviously) and not too sweet, it’s good served with vanilla ice cream or, drizzled perhaps with a little extra honey, with crème fraîche.

If you don’t have a pal like Joe and you want to save time you could buy pre-ground hazelnuts but I’d recommend starting with whole roasted nuts for a better flavour.

Image of roasted, skinned hazelnuts

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, line a tin with baking paper and roast for 10-15 minutes, giving them a shake every five minutes. They should smell fragrantly nutty but be careful they don’t burn.

If they’re unskinned, wrap at this point in a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes, then rub them together inside the cloth to remove the skins. Set aside a dozen for the garnish. Whizz the rest in a food processor until finely ground, stopping before they get oily.

The cake can be made in advance. The candied hazelnuts should be made only a few hours before you want to serve and eaten the same day. Keep them at room temperature, uncovered.

Honey and Hazelnut Cake

  • Servings: makes one 23cm cake
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Image of cake, sliced


100g self raising flour

125g ground roasted hazelnuts

4 eggs

225 g butter

225g runny honey

1 level tspn baking powder

Pinch of salt

For the candied hazelnuts:

12 skinned, roasted hazelnuts

200g caster sugar

60ml water

Plus icing sugar for dusting


Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 23cm/9″ cake tin and line the base with baking parchment, greasing that too.

Put the sieved flour, ground nuts, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir to mix.

In a saucepan, melt the butter with the honey on a low heat. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool, then beat in the eggs one at a time.

Add the dry mix and beat with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for five minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the candied nuts, impale each nut on a wooden skewer: go in from the side rather than through the seam, otherwise they’ll fall in half. Set aside. Put a heavy wooden board on the edge of a work surface and line the floor underneath with newspaper.

Put the sugar and water in a pan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear. Stop stirring at this point or you’ll end up with rocks of sugar instead of liquid caramel. Bring to a boil and continue to bubble, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is golden in colour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 8-10 minutes to thicken.

Image of dipped hazelnuts

Holding the pan over the newspaper, dip each hazelnut in the toffee and wedge the skewer under the wooden board, allowing the caramel to drip to a point over the paper and setting them well apart. If you don’t get a long drip, allow the toffee to cool and thicken further. If it starts to harden in the pan, put it back on the stove.

Once the dipped nuts have hardened, snip off the points at about 10-15 cm (4-6″) with a pair of scissors. Dust the cake with icing sugar, gently pull the nuts off the skewers and arrange them in the centre of the cake. Eat as soon as possible.

NB: you can pour any remaining caramel onto baking parchment and allow it to cool, then break it up and eat as toffee candy.

Image of honey and hazelnut cake with candied hazelelnuts

25 thoughts on “Honey and Hazelnut Cake

  1. How many eggs, please. I thought I’d make this for my bro-in-law’s birthday this evening. Hope all well with you and him outside. Saw Morag a couple of days ago but in a restaurant so noisy I couldn’t hear a word she said.

    Blog gets better and better.

    xxx A Angela

    • Crumbs, thanks for spotting that, Angela! That’s the trouble with subbing your own copy (bring back editors!). Glad you’re enjoying the blog … hope you like the cake. And yes, how I hate noisy restaurants! We should have a catch-up before Christmas, somewhere quiet. 🙂 Linda xxx

  2. Do you grind your own hazelnuts? I always get in a claggy mess if I do, but I never see ready-ground on sale in the UK. They make a gutsier cake than almonds I think – in a good way.

    • I think the trick is to know when to stop … otherwise you end up with hazelnut butter. Maybe pulse them in small batches? I have a ridiculously powerful Indian wet and dry grinder that I use instead of the regular food processor for this sort of thing. I really like the flavour of hazelnuts in cakes. Health food shops are your best bet for ready-ground. I’ve just checked online and Sainsbury’s seem to sell them too. I do think you get a fuller flavour starting with whole nuts though. Lxx

      • I haven’t got the world’s best food processor – and actually, normally don’t miss it. But I’ve just been googling Indian wet and dry grinders, which I knew nothing about. I’m interested! Is yours a good ‘un? x

      • Yes, I bought it after watching Rick Stein use something similar in his Indian series. Mine is better though. 😀 It’s a Preethi ChefPro. (I bought it in preference to the one he used because it came with a guarantee.)

  3. This does look and sound completely glorious. I bought a spice grinder specifically to grind my own nuts (or is that something I need to go to Amsterdam to do?) and spices – has been one of the best purchases I made. I went and got it after watching Mr Stein too! xx

      • Funnily enough I just mentioned on another thread how much in awe of you I am! And I never mind you taking the micky. BTW, didn’t you do Tudor roses on pies recently? I can’t find it on your website and I wanted to see how you’d done them. Maybe IG?

      • Wowzers 🙂 thanks. Ah yes, I’m almost done writing that up. Succumbed to whatever-the-hell-it-is-that’s-going-around and it left me cream crackered for a few days after work. So I am a little behind, especially as I did it as one of my illustrated recipes which meant it’s taken longer. I should have it up in a day or two xxx

      • I made my own rather clunky Tudor rose template in the end – coming to Mrs P soon – but I look forward to your infinitely more artistic version. 🙂

  4. I was very much interested in this cake when I first saw it, Linda. I had no idea, however, of the honey-coated hazelnuts that you used to decorate it. I can only imagine the oohs and aahs of your dinner mates when you bring it to the table. I’m certain your friends will be very pleased to learn that their gifts were put to such good use.

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