Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Morning of Hrapocusa

This month's challenge -- a Hrapocusa or Dalmatian Dol Cake -- is normally celebrated in a festival called "Night of Hrapocusa." Based on the ingredient list, however, we decided it was more like coffee cake and decided to bake it one beautiful Sunday morning in September.

We had originally intended to combine our baking activities with something active, given that the cake contains three cups of sugar, but ultimately running after my toddler provided activity enough.

Pouring said sugar over the nut mixture. 

You make the cake in two layers -- an almond-meal-and-egg-white based dense cake, followed by a caramelized nut layer, intended to resemble the rugged stones of caves on the Dalmatian island of Bra. 

 The two layers are pretty evident from the outside, especially because the bottom layer contains grenadine (our substitution for cherry liquor, which safeway sadly did not carry).

Things were a little mushier on the inside, where it looks like the nuts somewhat collapsed into the bottom layer.
We were a bit overwhelmed by the sugar after one small slice (not sure how the festival folks can manage taste-testing for a whole competition), but luckily we have hungry officemates. The remaining cake was polished off by 9:47 am. I suppose that qualifies as a success!

Thanks to Jason at Daily Candor!

Servings: Makes 12-16 slices
For 8” / 20cm springform pan (if using 12” / 30cm pan, double the ingredients)
250g / 9oz / 1 3/4 cups whole almonds (roasted or raw, depending on preference)
400g / 14oz / 3 1/2 cups walnuts (halves and pieces)
600g / 1 1/3lb / 3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 orange
1/2 lemon
1 ½ Tbsp kirsch, maraschino or other cherry-flavored liquor
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 480°F / 249°C / Gas Mark 9 1/2.
2. Pulse the almonds in a food processor to yield a meal.
3. Add to your standing mixer bowl (or another large bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer) the following: the zest and juice from ½ orange, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 ½ tbsp of cherry-flavored liquor and 200g / 1 cup of the sugar. Mix gently until homogeneous.
4. Separate the 6 eggs, adding the yolks directly into the mixer bowl. Retain the whites separately: 4 whites in one bowl, the remaining 2 in another. Mix the ingredients from step 3 with the yolks until it yields a uniform batter. Pour into another bowl if using a standing mixer.
5. Clean out your standing mixer bowl (or get a new, clean bowl if using a handheld mixer) and place the 2 egg whites from step 4 in the bowl. Beat until you have somewhat stiff peaks.
6. Add half of the beaten egg whites and half of the almond meal to the batter. Fold in to incorporate and stir gently to homogeneity. Then add the remaining almond meal and egg whites, folding in and stirring gently as before.
7. Place a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of the springform pan. Pour the resulting cake batter into the springform pan on top of the parchment paper.
8. Bake according to this schedule (move to step 9 after placing in the oven):
5 minutes at 392°F /200°C / Gas Mark 6 (drop the oven to this temperature immediately after placing cake inside)
15 minutes at 350°F / 176°C / Gas Mark 4
15 minutes at 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3
Begin checking the cake approx 5 minutes after lowering the temperature to 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3 (or approx 25 minutes after beginning to bake). When a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven. If the center has swollen due to baking, press gently with the back of the wooden spoon to flatten the surface.
Note that a larger cake (in a 12" / 30cm pan) will likely take longer to bake sufficiently.
9. While the bottom cake is baking, place the remaining 4 egg whites, 400g / 2 cups sugar and the walnuts in a large pot. Turn up the burner to medium-high heat and stir aggressively for approx 15 minutes, making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t scorch. Stop when the liquid takes on a beige/caramel color.
10. Add the zest and juice of ½ lemon and the remaining ½ tsp of vanilla extract to the walnut-caramel mixture. Stir to spread uniformly throughout the mixture.
11. Pour the resulting walnut mixture over the bottom layer of the cake. Make the top even with the back of the wooden spoon.
12. Place the cake back in the oven (should still be at 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3) and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the top takes on a golden color.
13. Allow to cool for 90 minutes. Then gently remove from springform pan, peel off the parchment paper, and present!

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