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Lieskova Torta

April 17, 2011

Hazelnut Cake with Praline Buttercream

Pauline’s Lieskova Torta is a light and airy chocolate hazelnut cake, another one of the recipes from  her 90 year old hand written pastry book from the Austro-Hungarian Empire era. I made  four layers and filled it with a hazelnut praline buttercream in the middle and Swiss buttercream frosting on the outside.

The decadent cake takes me back to one day last spring, when Lily, Pauline’s daughter, and I sat under an umbrella at a  café  in Vienna in a downpour.  The rain didn’t matter to us: we were focussed only on our exquisite, buttery cakes and coffee.

The recipe’s a bit time consuming to make, but well worth the effort.  I roasted, skinned, and crushed the nuts for the cake, and used roasted and skinned whole nuts to make praline for the filling, which I then crushed into a paste and folded into the buttercream.  I even used Pauline’s old hand-cranked nut grinder.

Paulines hand cranking nut grinder

Cake Ingredients

  • 7 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup roasted, peeled and crushed hazelnuts
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons prezli (egg beaten with bread crumbs – I used butter instead of an egg)
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (I added this at the recommendation of Martha Stewart)
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Cake assembly: Preheat the over to 350 degrees, and grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Mix the eggs yolks, sugar and almond extract along with the salt and blend for about 3-5 minutes until it’s pale and drips in ribbons . Roast the nuts for 15-20 minutes until fragrant and browned. Place them in a tea towel, wrapped tightly, and allow them to steam for about 10 minutes.  Rub the nuts against each other in the tea towel to remove the skins.  Grind the nuts in a grinder or food processor.  Whip the egg whites until a stiff peak.  Sift the flour and cornstarch into the ground nuts. Melt the butter and chocolate, and add to the breadcrumbs.  With the mixer running, add in the chocolate mix and then the nut-flour mix until well blended. Fold in the egg whites. Spread the batter into the pans and bake for about 20 minutes.  Immediately remove from pans and cool on a rack for 1 hour. Slice the cake layers in half horizontally, and spread the middle three layers with the praline cream. Frost the cake with the buttercream, and decorate with left over nuts.

Raw hazelnuts with skins on

Praline Paste

  • 2 cups hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoons walnut oil

To make Praline Cream: Boil the sugar and water until the hard candy stage, and quickly add the nuts.  Place the hot praline on wax paper and spread into a layer. When cool, crack up the praline and blend in the food processor until it turns into a paste. Add in walnut or vegetable oil until smooth enough to spread.  Mash 1 cup of the praline cream into 1 of the cups of butter from the recipe below, then add it into 1/2 the buttercream frosting to make the praline filling. Store the remaining praline cream in a glass jar and use it on ice cream or on toast.


Hazelnut Praline Cream - before it is added to the buttercream

Swiss Buttercream Frosting

  • 5 eggwhites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups butter, split between the filling and the frosting
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup praline paste
  • 1 tsp almond extract
Frosting and Filling Steps: In a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, stir the egg white, sugar and salt with a wire whisk until gently heated, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and whip with a mixer into a thick, white marshmallow-looking frosting. Place 1/2 the frosting into a second bowl for the filling.  Drop cubes of 1 cup of cold butter into the egg white mix, and continue mixing. When the cup of butter is beaten in, the consistency will change a bit – keep beating and add the vanilla.  On a marble counter with a knife, cut in the praline cream into the remaining cup of butter.  When blended together, mix the praline-butter into the second bowl of egg white frosting, and add the almond extract.  Spread the praline cream in the middle layers and the vanilla frosting on the outside of the cake.

Lieskova Torta - Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Stan permalink
    April 17, 2011 10:39 pm

    Mmmm. I guess it depends on your definition of “light and airy” 🙂
    But long live decadance.

    • April 17, 2011 11:04 pm

      Whipped butter and egg whites ARE light and airy!!

      • Stan permalink
        April 18, 2011 8:30 am

        I think it was the three layers of praline, three cups of sugar and the eight ounces of chocolate that overloaded my taste buds….. 🙂 but I will still look forward to eating it.

      • April 18, 2011 9:09 am

        Don’t forget the pound of butter.

  2. April 18, 2011 7:35 am


  3. Lily permalink
    April 18, 2011 11:09 am

    I was fortunate enough to have diner at Tonya’s last night and the cake is definitely delicious! Tonya feel free to invite me over whenever you feel like baking it again….. far too tedious for me!

  4. Anna permalink
    June 8, 2011 12:03 pm

    I have the same nut grinder, and I can tell you the Cuisinart has nothing on it!

    • June 8, 2011 12:09 pm

      Hi Anna, You’re kidding! My dad did make a mountain of ground nuts in seconds, without barely breaking a sweat :). My aunt, Pauline’s daughter, has a mixer that is 50 years old, and feels like it weighs 20 pounds. It works like a charm too. Tonya


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