So I wanted to share this beautiful hazelnut mocha cake that I’ve been experimenting with for a while now. I’ve made this quite a few times I feel like I’ve finally perfected it and everyone who had a slice happily agreed.
Why Make This Hazelnut Mocha Cake?
Firstly it’s extremely easy. I used my go-to condensed milk base recipe that is 100% fool-proof. I’ve been using this recipe for years now and hands down produces the most fluffy, flavoursome sponge you’ll ever try.
I don’t use eggs in sponge cakes mainly because I have family members that prefer them to be egg-less. I personally don’t mind eggs but I also understand why this can be an issue for some people.
Over time, I’ve actually found that my egg-less sponge recipes tend to produce a crumb that’s sturdy and predictable with fewer air pockets. So in addition to it tasting amazing, it’s also a great choice if you’re looking for a recipe that’s suitable for large events such as a birthday or wedding.
I used self-raising cake flour (00 grade) for this recipe and it always produces a superior sponge no matter what type of cake I’m making. I know flour has been much harder to come by since the pandemic started and self-raising flour has been particularly sparse. You can still make this recipe using plain (all-purpose) flour though.
Most baking blogs are created with home bakers in mind and will oftentimes suggest using plain flour for sponge cakes. This is okay most of the time but if you’ve ever wondered why your sponge cakes aren’t coming out fluffy and moist then there’s a good chance that it’s the type of flour that you’re using
Not all flours are made equal and while plain flour works perfectly fine for a fudgy chocolate cake or moist carrot cake, it certainly isn’t as good for sponge cakes. Although I always recommend using a high-quality cake flour where possible, I have added details on how you can make a cake flour substitute at home using plain (all-purpose) flour.
Another important ingredient is the condense milk which adds flavour and structure to the sponge. The absence of eggs and the addition of ground hazelnuts means that cake is more fragile than a traditional sponge. The condensed milk works extremely well to hold it together and prevents it from crumbling when you cut into it.
I also added vanilla extract, vodka and a small squeeze of lemon juice to give the cake an extra kick of flavour.
The Mocha Buttercream
I stuck to a classic American buttercream for the recipe. Although it’s the perfect go-to buttercream, it also happens to be the sweetest. My sponges (on their own) aren’t actually very sweet, so an American buttercream truly works quite well in this recipe.
Have you ever tried ermine buttercream before? It’s a less sweet alternative that doesn’t rely on eggs. It has a similar texture to meringue buttercreams. The only difference would be the flavour in that ermine is slightly milkier whereas meringue buttercreams have that ‘hard candy flavour’.
Ermine does have milk in it so it requires refrigeration but it’s also the perfect alternative to American and meringue buttercreams. If you are interested in trying ermine then I recommend this recipe from The Tough Cookie. To give it that mocha flavour, add 1 Tbsp of cocoa powder along with 1 Tsp of espresso powder.
This cake also has a decadent dark chocolate ganache dripped on top. If you’re wondering why the buttercream has that “beautiful rustic” decoration around it then it’s because of a ganache fail. I didn’t have any double cream on hand and decided that I would make a vegan ganache using coconut cream. Nope! Never again. Not on a drip cake anyway.
Luckily I saved the cake and blended the ganache that I couldn’t remove onto the edges. Anyone else think that it actually adds a nice effect though?
I went and bought some double cream the following day and it came out okay. Getting a good ganache can sometimes be hit or miss though. Which is why I haven’t included the ganache recipe in here. It’s something that I’ll probably touch on in another recipe but if anyone is interested then I used a 1 : 1 ratio of chocolate to double cream.
Tips & Tricks
This cake is so simple to make that there isn’t really that much to add in terms of tips.
One thing I did notice is that, when I tested this hazelnut mocha cake using the homemade cake flour recipe, it domed much more than usual. So I recommend cake strips to avoid this happening. You can make DIY cake strips using foil or a damp kitchen cloth.
Another point is not to worry about slightly larger chunks of ground hazelnuts in the cake. I recommend sifting the hazelnuts to avoid clumps of it within the batter. However, once it’s sifted don’t throw away the chunks of hazelnut that can’t fit through. Tip it into the dry ingredients! It gives the cake a slightly nutty texture which fits in well.
My final point would be to make sure that you use a high-quality flour where possible. As I mentioned above, they aren’t all made equal and the type of flour used can truly impact on the outcome of a cake. If you can’t find cake flour self-raising cake flour, use cake flour. If you can’t find cake flour then use the highest quality plain flour you can find.
How to store a Hazelnut Mocha Cake
You can store this cake at room temperature for 24 hours. In the highly unlikely chance that you don’t devour the cake within that time frame, then place it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
This cake is also freezer safe. Either cut it up into slices or freeze whole for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the fridge when you’re ready to eat.
If you make this hazelnut mocha cake then let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear. Click here for more recipes and ideas.
Hazelnut Mocha Cake
A delicious hazelnut infused sponge with a silky mocha buttercream. It's fluffy and tastes amazing!
- 1 Cup (120 g) Hazelnuts
- 2 ½ Cup (350 g) Self-raising cake flour (see notes for substitutes)*
- ¼ Cup (45 g) Caster sugar
- 1 Tsp Baking power
- ¼ Tsp Salt
- 1 Cup (220 ml) Oil, neutral tasting such as rapeseed or sunflower oil
- 1 Cup (240 ml) Milk
- 1 ¼ Cup (360 g) Condensed Milk
- 1 Tbsp Vodka
- 1 Tsp Vanilla
- 1 Tsp Lemon juice
- 1 Cup (250 g) Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ½ Cup (375 g) Powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp Cocoa powder
- 1 Tsp Espresso powder
- ½ Tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 – 2 Tbsp Double cream
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line baking tins with parchment paper. For a normal cake use 2 x 8-inch baking tins. For a tall cake use 3 x 6-inch baking tins.
Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and grind for 20 seconds or until a flour forms.
Add the ground hazelnuts, flour, sugar baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix together. Sift these ingredients into another bowl and set this bowl aside.
Use the same bowl that initially had the dry ingredients to prepare your wet ingredients. Into this bowl add oil, milk, condensed milk, vodka, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir well until the ingredients are mixed.
Tip ⅓ of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and use an hand or electric whisk to mix until evenly incorporated. Add another ⅓ and repeat the process until the batter comes together. Don't over whisk.
Evenly divide the batter between each baking tin and place in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Check the middle of the cake with a toothpick. It will come out clean when done.
Allow the layers to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the cake tins. Once removed, let them come to room temperature. Once they're cooled begin preparing the buttercream.
Grab an electric whisk and beat the butter for 10 minutes until it becomes white, silky and resembles a meringue.
Add powdered sugar to the butter, one cup at a time. Whisk after each cup is added. Add cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla extract and repeat the process. Add 1 – 2 tbsp of cream until it becomes soft and spreadable.
Assemble and decorate the cake as desired. (see notes)**
* Substitutes if you’re using:
Cake flour (that isn’t self-raising): Add 2 Tsp extra of baking powder (3 Tsp in total for this recipe)
Plain (all-purpose) flour: 1. Measure 2 cups + 3 tbsp plain flour. 2. Add 5 Tbsp cornstarch. 3. Add an extra 2 Tsp baking powder (so it will be 3 in total). 4. Use cake strips as it may dome more.