Hazelnut Cupcakes

Thanks to my successes so far with the recipes from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, I couldn’t help but give another one of them a go this weekend. This time, it was the turn of the hazelnut cupcakes, which looked and sounded divine. I love the flavour of hazelnuts, and if it came in a cake, well how could that go wrong?

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The method is slightly different from my usual cakes, and it did require a lot of elbow grease to bring it together, but they went into the oven, and away they rose.

At first, I thought they had gone completely wrong. The cakes started to peel away from their cases the moment they exited the oven. The flavours were delicately nutty, but it didn’t pair well with the heavy and dense texture of the sponge. I wasn’t sure if they had been underbaked, although they all passed the skewer test upon exiting the oven. Disappointed, I boxed them up, and baked another batch with yoghurt instead of sour cream.

Happily, they worked beautifully. The texture of the yoghurt cupcakes is much lighter and fluffier than the original version. It is still quite a close crumb, but works very well in the setting – reminding me of a hazelnut-flavoured financier. Batch 2’s cupcake cases didn’t peel at all. I used a different set and from browsing online, it appears that using poor quality cupcake cases is the culprit here.

To give an extra happy ending to this process, and extra tick boxes for Ottolenghi, Batch 1 micraculously transformed overnight into an incredible gustatory delight. The sponge remains dense, but in a highly delicious manifestation. They were very rich, far richer than the yoghurt version, so I would prefer them in petit-four, as opposed to cupcake sized portions.

Hazelnut Cupcakes

Makes 6

Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

  • 75g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp hazelnut oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 75ml plain yoghurt
  • 90g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 22g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely ground

Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Cream the butter, sugar and hazelnut oil thoroughly together until pale and fluffy, then gradually add the egg little by little until well-incorporated. Whisk in the plain yoghurt.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, and mix in the ground hazelnuts. Add this to the creamed mixture in one go, and fold in gently with a spatula. Divide between 6 cupcake cases. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top. Leave in the tins to cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Best eaten cold.

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