This is seriously the best Hazelnut Cake, a festive cake consisting of melt-in-your-mouth buttery hazelnut sponge cakes, and a silky hazelnut mousseline cream that is enriched with hazelnut praline paste. This hazelnut layered cake recipe is easy to follow and results in a delicious, moist cake that will tantalize your taste buds. The perfect cake for Christmas, birthdays or any other occasion!
🌰 What is Hazelnut cake
There is no one general Hazelnut cake definition that exists. There are local variations like Italian hazelnut cake (Torta di nocciole), French hazelnut cake, or Swiss hazelnut cake. Some prefer to combine hazelnut with chocolate and make a Chocolate Hazelnut cake, some use Hazelnut dacquoise as a base, and some naturally pair it with Nutella.
In this Hazelnut Praline Cake recipe, I fully let the hazelnut flavor shine in all the elements; moist hazelnut sponges, super delicious hazelnut frosting with deep nutty hazelnut flavor due to the hazelnut praline paste, and also the decoration. This is hands down the most showstopper Hazelnut layer cake you will ever make!
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- It's easy - Who says baking a special dessert is difficult? As fancy as it looks, this hazelnut layer cake recipe is super easy to follow and totally beginner-friendly!
- It's quick - Follow everything in this guide and you will have a showstopper cake in no time!
- It's super delicious - If you're a hazelnut lover, you will fall in love with this cake at the first bite! Moist hazelnut cake layers topped with luxurious hazelnut praline creme mousseline, this dessert is simply irresistible!
- From scratch recipe - Some dessert recipes require a boxed cake mix. However, you don't need it to make this dreamy hazelnut layer cake come true, this from-scratch cake recipe will provide the most wonderful results!
- It doesn't need special equipment - You will need the regular equipment for home baking, but nothing complicated. The fanciest thing you will need is probably the french star nozzle piping tip, but you're free to substitute it with another piping tip that you have at home.
📝 Ingredient notes
This easy Hazelnut Cake recipe requires simple ingredients. The fanciest ingredient is probably the hazelnut flour which you can easily get from your local supermarket or make yourself!
For the Hazelnut sponge cake layers
- Butter - In baking, it's best to use the unsalted version of butter so you can adjust the saltiness level of the batter easily. I like the one with 82% fat content.
- Sugar - Just the regular white sugar will do. If you want to learn more about sugar, please check out my sugar guide.
- Eggs - Please use only room-temperature eggs. Cold eggs don't emulsify well and it can ruin the cake texture.
- All-purpose flour - Also known as plain flour, this kind of flour contains a medium amount of protein. Not too low, not too high. You can use cake flour if you want, it will result in a more tender cake as it contains less protein. If you want to learn more about flour, please read my flour guide.
- Hazelnut flour - Hazelnut flour is made of, yep, you guessed it, hazelnuts. This special ingredient will contribute to the hazelnut flavor in the sponge cake layers. So, don't skip it! If you are unable to purchase hazelnut flour, no problem! Toast whole hazelnut in a saucepan for a few minutes - to get the flavors out - then, using a blender, process the hazelnut with (!) the flour until a fine powder-like texture achieved
- Salt - A little bit of salt will be needed to balance the taste.
- Baking powder - It's a leavening agent that is responsible for the cake rise. Make sure that your baking powder is not expired and that it's added in the correct amount.
- Milk - Use whole milk as opposed to low-fat one. It will add some creamy flavor to the cake and it's the primary source of liquid in this recipe. So, don't add too much of it or it will ruin the consistency of the batter.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
For the Hazelnut frosting
The frosting of this Hazelnut Praline Cake is not the regular American buttercream! Instead, we'll make a luxurious praline creme mousseline with hazelnut flavor!
We want a cake full of hazelnut flavors, so you don't need any cocoa powder or peanut butter like some other recipes state.
- Milk - As usual, use only whole milk as it has more fat content so it's richer and tastier!
- Sugar - Use the normal white granulated sugar. Don't forget to check out my sugar guide.
- Egg - We will only need the egg yolks for the frosting. What to do with the egg whites? Well, you can use them to make chocolate hazelnut macarons afterward!
- Corn starch - Along with flour, cornstarch will thicken the frosting.
- Flour - Just simple all-purpose flour will do the job
- Butter - As usual, use only unsalted butter so you can easily control the saltiness of the mixture. I recommend using the one with 82% fat content. Remember, the butter needs to be soft at room temperature, but not melted. We will need the butter to make the pastry cream and to convert the pastry cream into creme mousseline.
- Hazelnut Praline - You can use either homemade or store-bought hazelnut praline eg. Callebaut Hazelnut Praline paste. It's the source of the hazelnut flavor in this frosting and it's very sweet since it contains 50% hazelnut and 50% caramelized sugar! But don´t worry, the final frosting won´t be sweet as the pastry cream and butter will offset the sweetness of the hazelnut praline. If you can't find any, you can use hazelnut butter, but you will need to adjust the amount of sugar accordingly.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. How to make Hazelnut sponges
Making hazelnut cake sponge layers is super easy and pretty straightforward! You will only need a bit of preparation before the actual baking process.
First, be sure to preheat your oven to 175 C/347 F (no fan). Then, gather all of the ingredients. Use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients correctly. Then, follow these steps:
- Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until they look pale and fluffy.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time.
- Grab another bowl to mix together the all-purpose flour, hazelnut flour, salt, and baking powder. Remember that this is the "dry ingredient" while the room temperature milk is the "wet ingredient".
- Fold the dry ingredients and wet ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture in this order: wet, dry, wet, dry.
- Once the cake batter is ready, divide them into three cake pans equally using a digital kitchen scale.
- Bake the cake batter at 175 C/347 F (no fan). It will take about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool on a cooling rack.
💡 Top Tip: Make sure that all the wet ingredients are at room temperature before mixing. Cold ingredients don't blend well.
2. How to make Hazelnut frosting
For the frosting, instead of using regular buttercream, we're going to make something more special. It's called hazelnut praline mousseline cream, which is super rich and silky.
You won't need any heavy whipping cream to make this luxurious frosting!
Making a mousseline cream consists of two steps: preparing the pastry cream and converting pastry cream into a mousseline cream by adding some butter and the hazelnut praline paste.
First, let's make the pastry cream:
- Whisk the sugar and egg yolk using a hand whisk until fluffy. It will take about 1-2 minutes.
- Mix in the cornstarch and flour until well combined. It's supposed to look like a smooth paste.
- Grab a saucepan to heat up the milk. Let it simmer, not boil.
- Pour the warm milk over the previous mixture gradually. Use a hand whisk to whisk vigorously.
- Once it's combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook it over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until it thickens. Whisk gently to avoid any lumps.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl for a silky smooth texture.
- Mix in the soft (but not melted) butter in 3 batches. Use a rubber spatula to combine them well.
- To help cool this pastry cream, pour it over a shallow bowl. Then, to prevent the upper layer from drying out, cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature.
Once the pastry cream completely cools to room temperature, the next step is converting it into mousseline cream. We will need some butter to mix in so it will become a mousseline cream. Also, we will need some hazelnut praline so it will become a "hazelnut praline mousseline cream". The process is super quick but we need to do it carefully.
- Grab a mixing bowl to whip the butter for 1-2 minutes. Or use your stand stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachement
- Then, whisk in the hazelnut praline paste.
- While keep whisking the mixture, add the pastry cream in 4 batches until it gets fluffy and stable. Avoid overwhipping as it can badly affect the texture, the frosting can become runny
- Your hazelnut mousseline cream is ready! Depending on the texture, if it is more on the soft side, chill it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes before using it to frost your cake
💡 Top Tip: Temperature is crucial in making mousseline cream. Remember that all of the ingredients (the pastry cream, the hazelnut praline paste and the butter) must be at room temperature before mixing.
3. How to assemble the cake
After preparing the hazelnut frosting and the hazelnut cake layers, it's time to assemble the cake! Follow these steps:
- Start to build the cake from bottom to top. On top of every cake layer, generously apply 200 grams of hazelnut frosting.
- Repeat the process for the second and third cake layers.
- Once the cake layers are assembled nicely, let the cake chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Proceed with crumb coating the cake, then chill it for another 30 minutes before applying the final coating
💡 Top Tip: To prevent the cake layers from sliding, start the assembling process with cool cake layers and stable frosting. If the frosting gets soft during the process, put the cake back into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Finally, it's time to finish the cake with some decoration! Hazelnut cakes, just like chocolate cakes and other sweet, mouth-watering cakes, look so much more appetizing when decorated nicely.
Pipe the remaining hazelnut frosting on top of the cake, then arrange smaller and larger hazelnut pieces on top.
Your hazelnut cake is ready! You can serve it immediately or store it in the fridge for 2-3 days.
💡 Top Tip: You can get creative and sprinkle roasted chopped hazelnuts even on the side of the cake as well.
🎓 Expert tips
- It's super important to measure the ingredients using a digital kitchen scale to achieve the best accuracy, especially for major ingredients such as flour, sugar, and butter. As for baking powder and salt, you can use spoon measurements.
- Make sure that all of the ingredients are at room temperature, including the butter, eggs, and milk so they blend well with a nice texture.
- Remember to preheat your oven before preparing the batter so once it's ready whenever needed
- The estimated baking time is 20 minutes. However, every oven is different so focus on the texture instead of the timer. During the final minutes, insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready. Don't overbake, it can cause a dry texture on your sponge cake
- It's important to let the cake chill in the fridge before assembling. You may also need to put it back into the fridge for 30 minutes if the frosting gets soft during the assembling process.
🥣 Equipment Notes
Use a rubber spatula to carefully fold dry and wet ingredients and avoid overmixing.
After the batter is ready, pour them into round cake pans of the same size. A springform pan is not required here. Instead, I like using the 15cm/6-inch cake pans for this cake. Don't forget to grease the aluminum pans and line them using parchment paper so the cake won't get sticky after baking.
Be sure to use a digital oven thermometer to ensure that the oven interior temperature actually matches the recipe requirement.
You can make hazelnut cake with easy-to-find baking ingredients such as butter, eggs, sugar, flour, milk, baking powder, salt, and hazelnut praline!
It has a nice combination of sweet, buttery, and hazelnut flavors in every bite! Wonderful textures that come from the moist hazelnut cake layers and the luxuriously soft hazelnut praline creme mousseline make it even better!
Yes of course you can. This recipe works no matter what size or shape of cake you want to bake. Keep in mind, you will need to adjust the baking time and ingredients accordingly, please check my conversion table
If you want your sponge cakes to taste like hazelnut, then don´t make them without using hazelnut in the sponge layers. If hazelnut flour is not available for you, no problem. Buy whole hazelnut, toast them in a saucepan for a few minutes, then using a blender or food processor blend roasted hazelnut with the flour together until fine powder is achieved.
The hazelnut filling in this recipe is creme mousseline. First, prepare the pastry cream. Then, whip it with butter and hazelnut praline.
Hazelnut Praline is effectively a paste that consists 50% hazelnut and 50% sugar (caramel to be exact). I prefer buying the praline paste online but it can be easily made at home by mixing toasted hazelnut with hot dry caramel, letting the mixture cool and harden then blending them together with a food processor until it becomes a paste. Make sure that your blender is strong enough to make the praline paste, it is quite an effort for the mixer which is why I prefer to buy it ready-made. I absolutely adore hazelnut praline paste, it is a sweet, nutty paste with a super deep flavor. Not too thick, not too thin, mixing it with pastry cream can take it to the next level. If you decide to purchase it, make sure you buy pure praline paste that is 50% nut (typically hazelnut) and 50% sugar. The one I am using is Callebaut Hazelnut Praline paste.
If you cannot purchase it ready-made and also do not have a strong blender to make it yourself, I suggest using hazelnut butter (100% hazelnut paste without sugar), however, you will need to adjust the sweetness in this case and add more sugar to the pastry cream.
Any leftover cake can be kept in a container refrigerated for 2-3 days.
You can freeze the hazelnut sponge cake layers but I do not recommend freezing the entire cake after assembling.
🍰 More Cake Recipes
Hazelnut Cake (VIDEO)
For the Hazelnut frosting (Hazelnut Praline Crème Mousseline)
- 750 g Whole milk 3% fat
- 150 g Granulated sugar
- 120 g Egg yolk approx. yolk of 6 eggs
- 37 g Corn starch
- 37 g All purpose flour
- 75 g Unsalted butter room temperature, 82% fat content - will be used while making the pastry cream
- 185 g Praline Paste store bough or homemade
- 225 g Unsalted butter room temperature, 82% fat content - will be used while making the butter cream
Hazelnut sponge layers
- 150 g Unsalted butter room temp
- 150 g Granulated sugar
- 2 Eggs room temp
- 130 g All purpose flour
- 40 g Hazelnut flour
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 1½ teaspoon Baking powder
- 40 g Whole milk 3% fat, room temp
- Hazelnut roasted, chopped
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Make the Hazelnut frosting (Hazelnut Praline Crème Mousseline)
Start with preparing the pastry cream
- In a large enough bowl with the help of a Hand whisk, mix together sugar and egg yolk until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes
- Mix in corn starch and flour until throughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
- Bring milk to simmering in a saucepan on medium heat. Make sure it is simmering but not crazy boiling
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don't worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy
- If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump-free, creamy end result
- Add in room temperature soft butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth adding the butter in 3 stages and mixing well after each addition
- Place the cream into a shallow bowl and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top. Let it cool to room temperature
Turn pastry cream into Hazelnut cake frosting
- Crème mousseline can be made with room temp pastry cream, room temp butter, and Hazelnut praline. Make sure everything is at room temp otherwise the mixture might curdle
- Whip room temp butter first for 1-2 minutes, then mix in Hazelnut Praline
- Start adding in the room temp pastry cream in 4 stages until the cream reaches a stable yet fluffy texture. Do not over whip the mixture as it can become runny
- Place the cream into the fridge for half an hour
- Heat oven to 175 C / 347°F (no fan)
- Cream room temperature butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy then whip the eggs in, one at a time
- Sift flour, hazelnut flour, salt, and baking powder together, this is the “dry ingredients” and the room temp milk is your wet ingredient
- Fold wet and dry ingredients with the butter-sugar mixture in the following order: wet, dry, wet, dry.
- Divide the cake batter between the 3 baking pans equally using a digital scale.
- Bake them at 175 C / 347°F (no fan) for 20 min or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let them cool on a cooling rack before frosting.
- Start to build up the layers from the bottom to the top and fill the layers with 200g Hazelnut frosting each. Once the last cake layer is placed, chill the cake for a minimum of 30 minutes
- If at any point the frosting gets soft or the cake gets unstable, place it into the fridge to chill then only after continue.
- Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting and then chill the cake again for another 30 minutes before the final coating and decorating
- For the decoration, move the remaining hazelnut frosting into a piping bag fitted with a nozzle top and pipe decoration all around the top. Use some roasted chopped hazelnut to further decorate the cake
- Store refrigerated for max. 2-3 days
- Use always unsalted butter in dessert recipes, but make sure you add the salt stated in the recipe as that will balance the sweetness
- The egg, butter, and milk should be used at room temperature to make the cupcakes
- Use full-fat milk and high-quality butter when making the Hazelnut frosting
- If you cannot access hazelnut praline paste, you can either make your own or use hazelnut butter (100% hazelnut) and increase the sugar quantity of the pastry cream
- Digital scale is required for a consistent, happy baking experience:)
- Always pre-heat your oven and consider using a digital oven thermometer for the best results
- Each oven is different so you might need to adjust the baking time slightly
- Do not overbake the cake layers as that can result in a dry texture
- It is very important that while whipping up the hazelnut frosting, both the pastry cream as well as the butter is at room temperature
- If at any point during the assembling process the cake frosting or the cake layers are soft, refrigerate them for 30 minutes before continuing