Cherry Hazelnut Loaf Cake Recipe

I had lunch with my friends Pascale and Caroline a couple of weeks ago, and afterward we followed Caroline back to her apartment so she could share samples of a quirky ingredient she’d just laid her hands on: hazelnut flour.

I had initially thought she was referring to finely ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal or poudre de noisettes), but no: this is made by grinding hazelnuts finely, yes, but also removing the oil they contain, until you’re left with a delicate powder, light brown in color and supernally fragrant.

I walked home with the package of hazelnut flour pulsing with possibilities in my purse, and halfway up the hill I had decided I would bake this rustic cherry and hazelnut loaf cake.

I walked home with the little package pulsing with possibilities in my purse, and halfway up the hill I had decided what I wanted to do with it: I bought sweet cherries at the produce stall around the corner, and baked this rustic cherry and hazelnut loaf cake. Nutty, moist, and dotted with soft morsels of cherry, it did not last for long on the kitchen counter.

I elaborated on the basic formula for sweet loaf cakes that Florence laid out on her blog: it incorporates a portion of sourdough starter into the batter, and it is one of those recipes that starter bread bakers yearn for, as we are always looking for ways to use up the extra starter that the keeping of a healthy colony produces. You do not need starter to make this cake, though; the two options are outlined in the recipe below.

The hazelnut “flour” I mentioned above is made by a French manufacturer of stone-ground nut oils that once had the idea to give a second life to the round cake of pressed nut meat that remains after the oil has been completely drawn out of it. This byproduct was formerly sold to serve as cattle feed or fish bait (!) but they realized it was perhaps a case of de la confiture pour les cochons (literally, “jam for pigs,” the French version of “pearls for swine”) the day one of their clients asked if he could buy it for his own cooking needs.

They are only selling this flour to professionals for now (my friend Caroline obtained it through a chef friend of hers), so I can’t give a source for it at this time, but if you ever stumble upon something similar, you have a recipe in which to use it. And if you’re unable to find it, regular ground hazelnuts will work just as nicely, as will chestnut flour if you have some lying around.

In passing, let me share a simple tip regarding the melting of butter for baking recipes: instead of zapping it in the microwave oven (I no longer have one), I place the required amount of butter in the baking pan I’m going to use (or in an ovenproof ramekin if it’s a pan with a removable bottom), and place it in the preheating oven. After two or three minutes (I set a timer so I don’t forget) the butter is almost completely melted, and will continue to melt from the residual heat. I set the pan or ramekin aside for the butter to cool slightly, then pour it into the batter as needed, and use a pastry brush to spread the remaining traces of butter around the bottom and sides of the pan to grease it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my time-and-energy-saving tip of the day.

Cherry Hazelnut Loaf Cake Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Makes one loaf cake.

Cherry Hazelnut Loaf Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 125 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 80 grams (6 tablespoons) butter, melted (if you use semi-salted like I do, omit the salt below)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) plain yogurt or buttermilk (see note)
  • 200 grams (7 ounces, about 1 2/3 cups) flour (see note)
  • 100 grams (1 cup) hazelnut flour or finely ground hazelnuts (see note below to make your own)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch salt
  • 350 grams (12 ounces, about 2 1/2 cups) sweet cherries, pitted (please wear an apron when you pit cherries, it is a murderously messy task; you can also use frozen cherries, no need to thaw them)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease a loaf pan (mine is 9x26 cm or 3 1/2-by-10 1/4-inch). You can line it with parchment paper instead if you prefer.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until frothy. Add the melted butter and the yogurt (or the starter, if using) and whisk again. (If using yogurt/buttermilk, the mixture may look curdled at this point; it's nothing to worry about.)
  3. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a whisk to remove any lump. Add the cherries and toss to coat.
  4. Pour the flour/cherry mixture into the wet ingredients, and fold in gently with a spatula until no trace of flour remains. The batter will be thick and lumpy; don't overwork it. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, level the surface, and put into the oven to bake.
  5. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 180°C (360°F) and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15-20 minutes before unmolding; run a knife along the sides to loosen the cake first. Let cool completely on the rack.

Notes

  • If you want to use up some of your 100% starter (see post on natural starter bread to see what that means), use 120 grams (4 1/4 ounces) of it: omit the yogurt, use only 140 grams (5 ounces) flour, and add the starter in place of the yogurt in the instructions below.
  • Hazelnut meal (finely ground hazelnuts) is a common baking ingredient in France, and is available from most supermarkets. To make your own, you'll need a food processor or blender: combine 100 grams (3/4 cup) whole hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of the sugar that's called for in the recipe, and process in short pulses (it will be scary loud but that's okay) until finely ground.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/cherry-hazelnut-loaf-cake-recipe/

  • http://iheartkatiecakes.blogspot.com/ Katie

    How wonderful! I’ve been dying to try Hazelnut flour but I simply can’t find it. I’m gonna get on the case as I’ve been nurturing my own starter and would love to use it on something other than bread!

    Katie xox

  • http://laquetmobile.blogspot.com Jo

    That sounds like such a lovely mixture – yum!

  • http://vicsrecipes.blogspot.com Victoria

    I always take note when you post a cake recipe as your cakes are generally exactly the kind of cake I love – delicate with a lovely crumb and not fancy or iced.

    It seems you are saying ground hazelnuts would work. I know when I make linzertorte or Marcella’s carrot cake – both of which call for ground almonds – I leave the skins on the almonds, which give the baked goods a lovely color.

    What do you think one should do when substituting ground hazelnuts in this recipe?

  • Writergrl

    Hello – for US based readers, I just found a link to this flour (and they specifically say that it is not hazelnut meal, but the de-oiled nut flour).

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Victoria – I think either blanched or non-blanched hazelnuts would work here, but if the hazelnuts you find still have their skin on, I wouldn’t bother removing it. Like you, I like the color/rusticity of flavor that the papery skins lend (and I hate peeling hazelnuts! ;).

    Writergrl – Fantastic, thanks for the link. It looks like that French producer isn’t the only one to think this byproduct worthy of humans!

  • http://dajana-bakerscorner.blogspot.com Dajana

    Gorgeous looking cake. I love both hazelnuts and cherries, but never thought of putting them together.

  • http://ncsuemme.blogspot.com emily

    The hazelnut flour looks quite amazing. When I can afford it, I will definitely be ordering that online!

  • http://www.cookincanuck.com Cookin’ Canuck

    What a beautiful loaf cake! I’m intrigued by the hazelnut flour, but it sounds like I’ll have to be satisfied with ground hazelnuts for now. Great butter tip!

  • amy

    sunday is my day to try new recipes–and it can’t come soon enough, this one sounds pitch perfect! thank you thank you thank you! =D

  • http://daysontheclaise.blogspot.com Susan W

    Super! I have a freezer full of cherries from this year’s bumper harvest, and it looks as though the hazelnuts in the orchard are going to do me proud later in the year too. Hazelnuts go with so many things and I love them sprinkled on salad, with mature goat cheese, in nutloaf and best of all in cakes.

  • dory

    Clotilde,

    Your photos are always beautiful and appetizing, but this one impressed me as the most wonderful yet. I am already having a good day, but your photo and recipe are like the icing on the (un-iced, as I prefer) cake. Well, I can’t mess with idioms on this website, even if I am not a big frosting fan! Writergrl, thank you for the link. This looks like one recipe I am willing to go to extra work to get right. I am pretty excited to try it, especially as I live in a major cherry-growing area– i.e. Wisconsin, USA.

    Dory

  • http://scratch.typepad.com Rachel

    Clotilde – that cake sounds great/ For somereason, I associate cherry and hazelnut with winter baked goods (and have had some skinned hazlenuts in my freezer since winter that I could grind for this cake!) which is odd because cherries are by no means a winter crop. Your cake looks beautifully, evenly, studded with the cherries. You certainly got a nice shot of that clean slice.
    And you are inspiring me with your bread baking!
    :)

  • http://www.makanaibio.com Flo Makanai

    Hi Clotilde!
    We’ve just discovered a new plum tree in our garden : after 10 years of sleep, it’s given us all at once 12 kgs of small, mirabelle like (though less fragrant and sugary) little plums!
    As I brought back nice organic shelled hazelnuts from Switzerland recently (and I’ve already prepared 15 jars of plum jam!), I’ll try to grind the hazelnuts and bake that sweet cake (the one with sourdough starter, of course) replacing your cherries by my plums.
    Thanks for the idea :-)

  • http://www.coffeemuffins.com Lauren

    As others have already stated this looks amazing, but what I am especially impressed by is how you got your cherries suspended through the cake.

    Last time I made a cherry loaf cake all the cherries ended up at the bottom – any tips?

    Another tasty look recipe, thanks!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Lauren – A few months ago I read a tip (I forget where) that said you needed to toss the fruit with *all* of the dry ingredients, not just a few tablespoons of flour, to prevent them from sinking. That’s what I did here, and although I don’t clearly understand why it would make a difference, it looks like it did! :)

  • http://anotherpurl.typepad.com Seanna Lea

    This looks really tasty. I imagine it would work equally well with the almond flour I have stored in my fridge if not quite as fragrant. Yum!

  • http://www.sweetamandine.com Jess

    I thought I’d exhausted my cherry options with clafoutis, pie, and sorbet this summer. But it looks like I still have this cherry hazelnut loaf to bake! Thank you, Clotilde.

  • Dot Allen

    We are deep into plums right now (and thanks for the wonderful plum walnut cream recipe on your Website), but have set this aside for post-plum season. Readers who live near Trader Joe’s will be able to find hazelnut meal at Trader Joe’s. — Dot

  • Marcia

    I have 1 1/2 lb of fresh sweet cherries and a bag of Trader Joe hazelnut meal so I can try this cake.

    Yes, I know where my cherry pitter is too!

  • http://www.fromsingletomarried.com Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    What a great summer recipes! I’ve never tried cooking with plums before so I’m excited to give it a go!

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar\

    This is so gorgeous. I love you the cherries are suspended in the loaf. Perhaps because it was a bit thicker form the hazelnut flour?

    I don’t love hazelnuts, so do you think I could substitute another nut powder? Pecan or almond?

  • Hannah Lee

    Clotilde, I love your writing, even when it’s not about a food or recipe that I like. It keeps me reading. I also love the French food expressions.

    Not one of the other posters mentioned it, but that was a very good ecological tip. So many gourmet cooks are wasteful in their use of resources. Your tip enhances an environmentally conscious life. So, why did you get rid of your microwave oven?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Hannah – We used to have a combo oven that was both a convection and a microwave oven — our kitchen is tiny so 2-in-1 seemed like a good idea — but the convection mode didn’t work very well and eventually died, so I bought a regular oven to replace it, and we decided to learn to live without a microwave. We mostly used it to reheat coffee and leftovers, so we don’t really miss it.

  • http://www.passportfoodie.com Taylor Young

    Great recipe.

    I love the color in the cherries!

    Very nice.

  • http://www.inolongerlikechocolates.com Kathie

    Clotilde, In lieu of hazelnuts, can one fine-grind almonds, pecans or English walnuts (which I have on hand)? Or does their oil content differ significantly enough to require altering the recipe?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kathie – Yes, you could substitute any sort of finely ground nuts here. Almond and pecan sound especially good!

  • http://www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com Sophie

    MMMMMMMMMM,….what a lovely & tasty looking cake!!

    Yummie yum!

  • http://www.gourmet-chick.com gourmet chick

    Love the melting butter tip – brilliant. Currently following some of your recommendations for Paris Clotilde and they have all been spot on so far.

  • http://www.gggiraffe.blogspot.com Johanna

    thanks for the information about the difference between hazelnut meal and hazelnut flour – I have never had it explained before – this cake looks wonderful – I love cherries in anything

  • http://shortbreadsouth.com Karen

    I adore the flavor of hazelnuts in recipes. I am very interested to try the hazelnut flour.

    Great tip for keeping fruit from sinking, too!

  • Meg

    How perfect! I had a surplus of cherries that I was trying to find a recipe for and on my weekly visit to Chocolate and Zucchini I see this! Must be fate… :) Anyway, I tried the recipe last night, but didn’t have any hazelnuts, so used almonds instead. Turned out wonderful (although I can’t wait to try it with hazelnuts.) I am already thinking about different fruit/nut combos that might work well here.

    Clotilde, your recipes always turn out so great. Thanks!

  • http://www.achowlife.blogspot.com redmenace

    I can’t wait to try the new flour! This recipe looks great. Thanks!

  • http://www.eyepreferparis.com richard

    so interesting. will have to try it. it must be an intense flavor.

  • Amy

    I couldn’t wait til Sunday to try this, I was just too excited… Holy cow that’s great cake!!! Only difference was I used dried cherries bc I was a bit afraid of the mess of pitting fresh ones. The baked hazelnuts are sheer heaven. Together they are sublime. Now the challenge is not eating it all before company comes tomorrow. Another fantastic recipe. I

  • Karen

    I found hazelnut meal at Whole Foods and baked this cake over the weekend. It’s cherry season so this is a great recipe to use them. Usually, I tinker with recipes, but this time I followed the directions and the cake turned out exactly like the photo. It’s delicious any time of the day. Thank you Clothilde!

  • Mollie

    I was making a vegan paella the other night and I didn’t have any cashew nuts so I used hazelnuts instead.
    It worked out really well. Thanks for another delicious sounding recipe with hazelnuts! I’ll try this loaf cake over the weekend!

  • http://Www.cocoandme.com Tamami

    Love the butter melting tip! T xxx

  • Meredith

    Hello! I’m sorry if this is terribly off-topic. I’m just wondering–I’m living in Paris for a few months–I’m at a loss to find good quality tomatoes that aren’t coeur de pigeon! And even those are hard to rustle up sometimes (getting to the Rue des Batignolles market early has been the only way I’ve had any success). My favourite, usually very reliable vegetable stall at the Bastille market even gave me watery, mealy Roma specimens. I KNOW that in all of Paris there can’t be a dearth of decent tomatoes. I am willing to travel pretty much anywhere (currently living next to the Buttes-Chaumont).

    More on topic…now I know what to do with all our leftover hazelnuts! :) Thanks!

  • http://greenbeansandcake.typepad.com/my_weblog/ Emily

    looks delicious!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Meredith – I buy my produce at the marché des Batignolles and we’ve been enjoying the tomatoes I get there, but it sounds like you already figured that out!

  • Marti

    I have just made a batch of muffins using this recipe as a guide and scoffed two with a glass of milk. Thank you for a sweet, moist and absolutely delicious recipe. By the way, I made some alterations: I used ground almonds and blueberries instead of hazelnuts and cherries. I also made them in muffin cases – that way I get more crusty top per bite. :)

  • milla

    for us-based people – king arthur flour sells roasted and unroasted hazelnut flour on their website. i did a google search and turned up other online stores selling it too.

  • Katie

    This is a fantastic recipe! I made a loaf this weekend and it’s already nearly gone!

    I found Hazelnut flour at Whole Foods, but it looked like Hazelnut meal and was a bit expensive. So, I ended up putting some regular hazelnuts in the food processor and they came out better looking that the hazelnut meal from Whole foods. And I think it adds to the texture.

    I was thinking that in the winter, this would be good with cranberries in it. Do you think that fresh cranberries would work, or would you need to cook them down a little first with some extra sugar?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Milla – Thanks for the tip!

    Marti and Katie – So glad the recipe turned out to your liking, thanks for reporting back!

    Katie – Fresh cranberries would certainly work here. I wouldn’t cook them down, but I would probably up the amount of sugar in the batter just a touch, because cranberries are less sweet than cherries.

  • http://yourfoodchoices.wordpress.com Steve and Jason

    What a beautiful loaf cake. Quick breads and summer fruit – how perfect! The photograph is stunning. Amazing color.

  • http://www.gigglinggrapes.com Julia

    beautiful cake! cherries and hazelnut – my favorites

  • Ari

    Hi! I really would love to make this recipe, but because I can only have honey or maple syrup as sweetener, could I substitute that? You have much more experience than me in baking so I thought perhaps you might have a suggestion as to how I would adjust the liquids in this case?
    Thank you!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Ari – I’ve never tried it with a “liquid” sweetener, but would suggest you try it with 1/2 cup (120 ml) honey or maple syrup. I wouldn’t worry about compensating for the liquid for this amount and in this sort of cake. It might take a couple of minutes more to bake, but that’s about it. Will you let us know how it turns out?

Get the newsletter

Receive a free monthly email with a digest of recent entries, plus exclusive inspiration and special announcements. You can also choose to be notified of every new post.