Esterhazy Torte for the Daring Baker’s Challenge

Esterhazy Torte is a rich Hungarian dessert which is reputed to have been made by a baker in Budapest in the 19th century. He named it in honour of Prince Paul III Anton Esterhazy de Galantha, a member of the Esterhazy dynasty and diplomat of the Austrian Empire.

torte wholeBlog-checking lines:  :  For the month of January Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

The word “torte”has its origin in Italian word “torta,” which means a round bread or cake. Most Europeans refer to cakes as tortes. Tortes generally are denser than cakes since they are often made using ground nut meal or breadcrumbs.

The Esterhazy torte is traditionally made of five layers. These dacquoise layers are made with egg whites, sugar and roasted hazelnut powder.

The main flavor in the cake comes from the hazelnuts. In some parts of Europe, almond or walnut meal is used instead of hazelnuts. Regardless of the nut that you are using, make sure to toast them before using as the nutty flavor really comes through once they are roasted.

If you are allergic to nuts, omit them altogether, but then it would not be Esterhazy torte.

When grinding nuts be very careful because a little over and they will turn buttery. We are aiming for flour not butter!! I like to mix the flour or sugar with the nuts while grinding as this helps prevent you from tipping the scale. But that is only possible when the recipe calls for adding the two together.

In this case the dacquoise layer needed the all-purpose and and nut flours to be added to the whipped egg whites, so I ground them together. For the filling this was not possible, so I preferred to err on the side of coarsely ground as I thought the texture would be quite good even that way. I was not wrong.

These layers are sandwiched together with a rich hazelnut buttercream filling.

The crowning glory is the Esterhazy web or the spider web decoration on top which is the distinguishing feature of this torte.

The recipe may appear daunting but it is quite simple once you start. Make the torte in stages. Make the layers and assemble the torte on day one and decorate the next day.

This torte tastes better as time goes by. Leave it to rest for at least 24 hours before tasting.

I have scaled down the recipe by a third to make a 6″ (15cm) round torte. If you want to make the 10″ (25cm) torte follow the original recipe from here.

It’s strange and ironic that the one thing that I hated as a kid -Maths- is what helps me in my baking. I was very proud that I calculated how much batter I would need for five 6″ diameter layers and the amount was perfect.

I had a bit of a problem with the hazelnut filling. The custard is made with just egg yolks and sugar- no milk or cream. I was confused about how thick to cook. I cooked for about 12 minutes and the mixture turned very hard. Whipping it up was quite a task. But once I added the butter it was better. Next time I will cook for a shorter while till it has thickened but not hardened. Maybe 8-10 minutes. That is the time I am giving in the recipe.

Since this was the first time I was making the spider web decoration I was a bit nervous. I ended up adding a tad more water to the icing sugar so it was a bit runny. We want creamy not runny. So be careful otherwise like me you will have the icing dripping along the sides.

The spider web pattern is made by making perpendicular lines at an angle of 30 degrees with a toothpick or the blunt edge of a knife. Each line should begin in the opposite direction. One running towards you and the other away from you. Watch this video to see how it is done.

Esterhazy Torte for the Daring Baker’s Challenge

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Esterhazy Torte for the Daring Baker’s Challenge

For the Hazelnut sponge layers-
4 large egg whites
80 gms caster sugar
2/3 Tbsp vanilla extract
80 gms ground hazelnuts
27 gms flour
For the Hazelnut cream -
4 egg yolks
80 gms caster sugar
2/3 Tbsp vanilla extract
50 gms ground hazelnuts
100 gms butter at room temperature
For the apricot glaze:
20 gms or about 2 Tbsps apricot jam
1/2 tsp water
For the white icing:
125 gms icing (powdered) (confectioner's) sugar
1/2 tsp oil
Juice of 1 lemon
About 1-2 Tbsps (20 ml) hot water
For the chocolate decoration:
30 gms dark chocolate
1/4 tsp oil
For coating sides-
35 gms roughly chopped hazelnuts
To make the torte:
Hazelnut sponge layers (dacquoise layers):
Place the skinless hazelnuts in a baking tray and put in cold oven.
Bring the temperature to 175C/350F and bake till the ao as come out and the nuts turn dark caramel colour (for almonds do not let them turn dark). This should take around 12-15 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully as they burn easily. Check frequently to see if the center is nice and crispy.
Let cool completely.
Roughly chop 1/4 th of the nuts and keep aside. These will go on the side of the cake.
Weigh out the amount needed for the sponge and grind it to a fine powder along with the flour.
Grind the rest of the hazelnuts coarsely and set aside for the filling.
Seperate the egg yolks and whites.
Place the whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixture till soft peaks. Gradually add in the sugar and vanilla sugar (or extract) and beat till stiff peaks form.
Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the hazelnut-flour and mix till just combined.
Cut 5 squares of parchment paper large enough to draw a 6" circles on it. Turn it over and and place on a upside-down baking tray. Use this as the template to delicately spread the sponge mixture on it. Spoon 1/5th of the egg white-hazelnut mixture into each circle and spread to cover the circle. It will be about 1/4" thick.
Bake each circle in a preheated 160C/325F oven for about 14 minutes. It will look soft but your fingers should not stick to the layer when you touch it.
Remove from oven and place the paper on an even surface to cool.
Cool the tray and repeat with the other layers.
It is important to cool the tray between baking the layers.
(_I drew 3 circles on a single parchment 2 on another and baked the layers in two batches_)
At this stage you could stack the papers on top of each other after the layers cool, cover and keep for a day before assembling
Hazelnut filling:
Cook the filling in a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler just take two pots so that the smaller one fits perfectly in the larger one and there is no gap between them.
Fill the larger pot with about 1-inch (2 cm) water place on the stove and bring the water to a slow boil, the water should not touch the smaller pot bottom.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer for 1/2 a minute. Place the pot on the larger one and cook the yolks stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and taking care to scrape the sides and the bottom. Stir constantly towards the end.
The mixture will thicken and the eggs will lose the raw smell.
Let the filling cool.
Beat the cooked yolk with an electric beater for about 30 seconds.
Beat the room temperature butter for 2 minutes until light and fluffy then beat into the cooked yolks.
Add in the ground hazelnuts and beat again until combined.
Set aside 2 tablespoons of the filling to spread around the torte at the end.
To assemble the torte:
Line a plate with parchment and place one sponge layer on it.
Spread 1/4th of the filling evenly on it and cover with a layer of sponge.
Repeat for all layers placing the last layer bottom side up on top of the filling.
Place a piece of parchment on top of the torte and press gently with your hands to even it out.
Place a plate or tray on top and put something heavy on top to level the torte up.
Keep the torte in the fridge for one hour (or overnight).
Heat the apricot jam with wate.
Remove the paper from the torte and spread a thin layer go the jam on top.
Put the torte back in the fridge to cool.
Remove and spread the reserved filling on the sides around the cake.
Place the chocolate with the oil in a glass bowl and microwave till the chocolate melts. (Alternatively do it over a double boiler).
Put this inside a piping bag with a small cut on the tip.
Keep aside.
Prepare the white icing by mixing the icing sugar, lemon juice and oil. Add hot water a little at a time till the mixture is creamy but not runny. Mix well for a few minutes.
Pour it over the torte and spread it evenly over the torte with a hot, wet palate knife.
If it is uneven, turn on the hair dryer and heat the icing to smooth it out a bit.
Drw 3-4 concentric circles itch the melted chocolate on top of the icing and then using the blunt edge of a knife or a toothpick, run six perpendicular lines at 30 degree angle to the cake. Each line should run in a different direction. Alternating between one towards you and the other away from you.
Press the reserved crushed hazelnuts around the sides of the cake.
Leave to set in the fridge for 24 hours before slicing the torte.
This cake gets better with time and can last over a week in the refrigerator.
Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Keep it refrigerated, covered with a cake dome, or something similar.
It is suitable for freezing.