I bought Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin long before I decided to go vegetarian again. Still, it’s a beautiful book with complete meals by season, which is always appreciated even if I’m constantly changing the ingredients. I’ve made several items separately and even an entire meal from the book, but there’s a hazelnut and brown butter cake that I keep making. From the first, I was intrigued even reading it. Who doesn’t like brown butter? Only the crazies. But the recipe looked difficult, long. I read it through again and noticed that there weren’t many steps, really, just lengthy, mouth-watering descriptions.
The first time I made it, I followed the recipe using hazelnuts. First blanching and then toasting them, until they burned to a crisp in the oven. Sigh. I then cheated and grabbed roasted macadamia nuts to complete the cake. Frankly, it took half the day and a fortune in nuts to make this unimpressively stumpy cake. I was heartbroken. Hours later, I sauteed up the pears, whipped the cream and placed plates in front of my dinner guests. We relished our cake in silence, sipping coffee between bites, and cooing repeatedly. It was amazing.
The second time, I went the hazelnut way again, thinking it must be even better with the “correct” nut. I kept my eye on them during the toasting, and no mishaps were made. The cake was still delicious, but not as good, in my opinion, as the original. Back to macadamias.
I made this cake yet again for a dinner party, using pre-roasted and salted macadamia nuts instead of doing any of the work myself (also omitting the smidge of salt in the recipe). Again, it turned out beautifully: dense and light, with just the right amount of chew.
I adore this cake, especially with sauteed pears or apples, whatever is in season. Grab this book from the library if you can or from a bookseller, and make this recipe!