In my childhood, we used to go to the woods to pick hazelnuts. Deep in the forests around Cēsis (where I was born) were many hazel trees with lots of nuts. That’s no longer the case, and most of the nuts we eat today come from Turkey, Italy, or somewhere else. Nevertheless, I associate hazelnuts with the taste of Latvia, my childhood, and nutshells that would shatter as we hit them with stones to get to the delicious inside.
I also associate oats, buckwheat, and honey with the taste of Latvia, and here it’s all in one cake. Without gluten, without refined sugar. Mild, silky, not too sweet, and, oh, so special.
80 g raw buckwheat
80 g oats
80 g hazelnuts
20 g royal jelly
80 g butter, melted
3 tbsp honey, maple or agave syrup
720 g mascarpone
6 tsp corn starch
250 g mild, neutral liquid honey *
1/2 orange zest, finely grated
3 medium eggs
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
60 ml sweet cream
50 g toasted hazelnuts
5 tbsp liquid honey
100 g cream cheese
200 g creamy Greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 180°, heating the top and bottom elements. Place the oven rack one below the centre. Line a 23 cm pan with parchment paper.
For the base, process buckwheat, oats, royal jelly, and hazelnuts. Add butter and syrup, mix, and press into the bottom of the pan.
For the filling, place 350 g cream cheese and cornstarch in a bowl. Mix on medium speed with a paddle attachment or whisk, occasionally scraping down the sides, about 2 minutes until the mixture is creamy. With the mixer running, gradually add the cream cheese (200 g at a time), and the honey, mixing thoroughly after each addition. When all the cheese has been added, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Finally, add vanilla, orange zest, and sweet cream and mix just until thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 h and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temp. Cover with cling film and refrigerate at least 6 h, but 12 h is better.
Before serving, prepare the cream. Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until creamy. Add yogurt and beat again until creamy. Spread on top of the cake, decorate with toasted hazelnuts, and drizzle with a little honey. Serve.
* If the honey is not liquid, heat in a hot water bath and cool slightly before adding to the filling.
Recipe: Signe Meirane
Photo: Armands Meirans
From my book Crazy About