Hazelnut Vanilla Layer Cake {Esterhazy Schnitten}
This hazelnut vanilla layer cake is a traditional Hungarian cake also known as Esterhazy Schnitten or Esterhazy Torte. It is incidentally gluten-free and filled with six layers of hazelnut meringue-based cake interspersed with a custardy vanilla buttercream.
Yield: 6-8 servings
For the cake
  • 1¼ cups (187 g) hazelnuts, toasted and cooled (or an equivalent weight of hazelnut flour)
  • 2½ tbsp (12 g) powdered sugar
  • 2½ tsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp ground espresso
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature (reserve the yolks for the buttercream)
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
For the buttercream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out, pod and seeds reserved
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp (75 g) sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) half and half
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • scant ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ lb (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly soft but still cool
To finish
  • ¼ cup (43 g) sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled
For the cake
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Line two quarter sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the hazelnuts, powdered sugar, tapioca flour, espresso, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the nuts are very finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. (If using hazelnut flour, just whisk all of these ingredients together in a large bowl).
  3. Whip the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed. Once foamy, add the cream of tartar. With the mixer still running, slowly pour in the sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the egg whites hold stiff, glossy peaks.
  4. Sprinkle a third of the hazelnut mixture evenly over the egg whites and fold in gently. Add the remaining hazelnut mixture in two additions. After the last addition, fold gently until the mixture is well combined and homogeneous. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and spread it into an even layer with an offset spatula.
  5. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan. Invert each cake onto a sheet of parchment paper. Lift off the hot pans and peel off the parchment while the cakes are still hot. Allow to cool completely.
For the buttercream
  1. Combine the vanilla pod and seeds with 2 tbsp (25 g) of the sugar in a small bowl. Mix to combine, using the sugar to scrape out any remaining seeds from the vanilla pod.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the vanilla sugar, vanilla pod, and half and half over medium heat. Cook just until small bubbles start to appear at the edges of the pan. Cover, remove from the heat. and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Once the vanilla milk has cooled, place the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes, or until light in color and thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, reheat the vanilla milk, squeezing as much vanilla from the pod as possible before discarding the pod.
  5. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly stream in the hot vanilla milk with the mixer still running. Transfer the egg yolk-milk mixture to the saucepan and wash the mixer bowl.
  6. Return the saucepan to medium-low heat and then cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts bubbling. Remove from the heat immediately and keep whisking to finish cooking the custard with the remaining heat from the pan. Scrape the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into the mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until completely cooled. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  7. Place the butter in the mixer bowl (no need to clean it first) and beat it on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 6 minutes. Decrease the speed to low and pour in the custard in 3-4 additions, only adding in the next once the last one has been completely incorporated. Set aside 2 tbsp of the buttercream.
To assemble
  1. Invert the cake layers so that the tops are facing up. Divide the buttercream equally between the two layers and spread into an even layer on top of the cakes, making sure it comes all the way to the edges.
  2. Carefully slice each layer crosswise into 3 equal-sized pieces. Carefully stack the pieces on top of each other, lining up the cut edges, to form a 6 layer cake. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Trim the short ends of the cakes to show all of the layers. Frost the long sides of the cake with the reserved buttercream. Place the toasted almonds around the edges of the cake. Serve at cool room temperature.
Recipe by Joanne Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/2021/12/hazelnut-vanilla-layer-cake-esterhazy-schnitten.html