You know what would make a giant slice of this homemade hazelnut cake just about perfect right now? A small cafe table, fresh steaming lattes, and laughter. This hazelnut cake is the kind of dessert made for sharing with friends and enjoying slowely with a airy marshmallow fluff frosting and chocolate dusting.
What makes a great cake? Is it the moist crumbs on the inside with light flavors, or the soft pillowy frosting the holds it all together and brings out the kid in all of us? I wasn’t really sure until I was sitting in a tiny cafe in Bamberg Germany. It had been raining out and after exploring a bit of the university city, we were ready to head back the river cruise boat. We stopped into the cafe seeking warmth and a break from the weather with only a few spare Euros in our pockets between us. But that is the beauty of Europe, a few spare Euros may get you a cup of wonderful hot coffee and a slice of something from the bakery counter.
We eyeballed one another and then the cakes on display in disbelief over their simple beauty. Apple strudels, tarts, truffles, and cakes. Every type of cake you could imagine in a tiny little bakery cake all sliced and ready to be served. We settled on a marzipan cake, and honestly, I am not sure why. It was beautiful, yes, but they all were. Why marzipan I will neer really know. The waitress brought it out to us and we shared our single slice with two forks. The first forkful sank through the fondant-like layer and into the cake below revealing a thin layer of marzipan cream. I bit into it knowing full well every dessert I had enjoyed while exploring had been better than the last. What I wasn’t expecting was the best cake I had ever tasted.
The single bite was soft, delicate, and yet the subtle flavors and not too sweet marzipan filling worked magic. This was what cake could be. It was everything and more without being dense or heavy. It was everything baking should be. And I knew in that moment the quest to learn a new love for baking would hit me when I returned home. I would want to hunt and research, work and rework recipes until I could share this cake with my loved ones at home.
This hazelnut cake with fluffy light marshmallow topping is not that marzipan cake, not by a long shot. But when I saw it, something in its simple ingredients and creamy hazelnut flavor reminded me of that slice and got me into the kitchen to create something. It is a wonderful cake, the hazelnut blends into the tender little crumbs and the fluff frosting isn’t overly cloying with its sweetness. It’s a mature sort of cake that would be wonderful at a bridal or baby shower, perfect for a grown-up birthday party. The sort of cake that reminds you to stop and sip some tea while enjoying.
And who knows, maybe it was the fact that I stopped to savor every flavor and texture of the cake, sip my latte, and chat with friends escaping the cold rain of Bamberg’s late fall showers that really made that marzipan cake so amazing. Or maybe it really was just that good. Until I find a similar recipe to recreate here in my own kitchen, I guess I will never really know.
Enjoy a slice of this hazelnut cake, and then chime in and tell me what the best cake you have ever had was!
For more layer cake confections check out these recipes: