As a kid, I hated Formula 1 – back then most of the races took place in Europe which caused them to be aired here in Brazil in the morning, and it made me really mad that something so boring would be on TV instead of my beloved cartoons. :) However, there was a pilot that I found super cool: Niki Lauda – I thought it was amazing that someone so badly burned could be such an amazing driver and win that many races. I grew up admiring this guy and that was the reason why I went to the movies to watch “Rush” – much to my surprise, the movie is really good (I don’t like Ron Howard as a director) and Daniel Brühl is excellent as Lauda: the physical resemblance is amazing (there’s even a dental appliance to make his teeth just like Lauda’s), and as far as acting is concerned he’s on the top of his game. There’s Oscar buzz already for him as a supporting actor – I find he deserves recognition for the part but to me he’s co-lead (maybe they’re trying to set things up like they did in this year’s nominations, throwing Christoph Waltz as supporting when he was actually co-lead).
I loved “Rush” and I don’t even like car races, just as I loved this gâteau breton even though I don’t like dense cakes – this is a dense cake, indeed, but in a good way, and since it’s very rich one small slice goes a long way. I read somewhere that this cake tastes like a cross between a cake and a cookie and I think it describes it perfectly.
Hazelnut Gâteau Breton
slightly adapted from here
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar, divided
½ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, husked - I used 40g hazelnut meal
6 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (280g) unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 165°C/325°F. Butter and flour 23cm (9in) springform pan.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar and hazelnuts in food processor; blend until nuts are finely ground but not pasty. Combine 6 egg yolks and remaining sugar in large bowl; whisk until well blended and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes (do not use electric mixer). Whisk in hazelnut mixture and vanilla. Gradually whisk in melted butter. Sift flour and salt over batter; stir just until blended (batter will be thick; do not overmix or cake may be tough).
Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top with offset spatula (layer will be thin). Brush top generously with egg glaze. Using back of tines of fork, deeply mark crisscross pattern atop cake. Bake cake until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes, then remove pan sides and cool cake completely (can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature).
Cut cake into wedges and serve with whole strawberries or with warm strawberry jam.
Serves 8-10 – I made the exact recipe above using a 20cm (8in) cake pan