Gluten Free Hazelnut Meringue Cake – Kiev Torte

Kiev torte is a very special cake among hazelnut meringue cakes. The authentic recipe of this cake, commercially manufactured for many years and still in production in many cities, is readily available from many sources online. I always enjoyed this cake, the only issue I had, was the cream, too rich and too sweet for me. When I decided to bake this cake close, if not identical to its original recipe, I knew that the cream has to be replaced with something lighter. Kiev cake is probably the easiest recipe to adapt gluten free. It has only 50g of flour for the whole cake. I replaced it with coarse rice flour. In several attempts to use different flour – fine rice flour and corn starch, they were beaten by rice coarse flour, producing  superior texture and taste. The base cream I used, is essentially crème mousseline, the mix of whipped butter and thick pastry cream, made into vanilla and chocolate variety. The difference of this particular hazelnut meringue is the unusual for meringue method of batter preparation. Egg whites are not beaten with all sugar in the recipe. They are beaten to stiff peaks with some sugar, while the bulk of it in the form of caster sugar, is added to the batter with dry ingredients. I have to admit my arrogance, I made the first version of hazelnut meringue the standard way, and did not get the texture I have expected.  As strange as it sounds, but using aged for 24 hours egg whites, beaten with little sugar, and only later mixed with the rest of the sugar, together with crushed hazelnuts and rice flour, resulted in the texture and taste of this amazing cake, that I remember.  Here it is Kiev torte – gluten free and glorious!

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Photo above is the trial run, photo below is the actual cake I baked for Christmas.

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Ingredients:

hazelnut meringue, 2 layers 21-22cm in diameter 

  • 200g egg whites (6 egg whites from large/extra large eggs)
  • 50g caster sugar (important to use caster sugar, not regular granulated sugar)
  • 10g vanilla sugar

separately

  • 160g hazelnuts, lightly roasted, chopped, or ground but not too fine
  • 50g rice flour (I used relatively coarse rice flour MacKenzie’s brand)
  • 180g caster sugar

cream

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100g sugar
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • 25g corn starch/flour

separately

  • 160-165g unsalted good quality butter (I used Lurpak)

for vanilla cream

  • 1 tea spoon of vanilla extract or vanilla paste (gluten free)
  • 1 tea spoon apple brandy Calvados, optional, but will greatly enhance cream flavour and overall taste (cognac in authentic recipe)

for chocolate cream

  • 10g pure cacao powder

caramelised fruit peel

Preparation:

Preparation of this cake have to be started at least two days ahead. Hazelnut meringue layers can be baked simultaneously on three levels in fan-forced oven, 2 for the cake, equal in size together with a third portion of the meringue, which is used to make hazelnut crumbs for cake decoration. Hazelnut meringue batter can be prepared in one batch or two batches, when each layer had to be baked separately. However, I prefer to separate all ingredients in 2 portions, prepare 2 separate batches of the meringue, but bake all three portions at once. All ingredients, as well as paper lining for baking trays, has to be prepared, to make the process fast without stops, that can cause meringue to deflate.

hazelnut meringue

  • separate egg whites from egg yolks
  • cover bowls/cups with egg whites and egg yolks with plastic wrap
  • keep egg yolks refrigerated
  • leave egg whites to age on the benchtop for 24 hours (at least 12-18 hours)
  • lightly roast hazelnuts, let them completely cool down

the next day

  • prepare all dry ingredients in individual bowls
  • roughly blend hazelnuts in food processor for 1 min
  • chop hazelnuts to have small to medium pieces
  • the resulting mix will have particle size from that of hazelnut meal to quite large individual pieces of hazelnuts
  • mix chopped hazelnuts with caster sugar and rice flour

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  • prepare 3 baking pans, lined with baking paper, 2 baking pans have to be the same size 21-22cm and one can be the smaller one

Note

Different size of baking pans can change the texture of the meringue. Thinner layer of the batter will result in fully dry texture of the baked meringue and its darker colour. Baking meringue in smaller size pan will give softer texture inside meringue, it will also raise more. 

  • whisk egg whites until soft peaks (I prepared meringue in two batches, below photos show preparation of the half portion of the recipe)
  • add caster sugar, 1 table spoon at a time, continue whisking after every sugar addition until all sugar is gone, and you reach stiff peaks
  • add the mixture of prepared dry ingredients (hazelnuts, caster sugar, rice flour)
  • carefully mix in dry ingredients into egg whites, trying not to lose the volume
  • use 2 heaped serving spoons of the mix to bake in the small pan (meringue for crumbs)
  • divide the rest of the mixture into 2 equal parts
  • spoon the batter into lined baking pans
  • level the surface of the batter
  • bake in preheated to 150C fan forced oven for 2 hours
  • switch the oven off, leave baking pans in the oven, let them rest and cool until the next day

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cream

Cream can be prepared on the day the cake is put together, but I like to make it the day before, when I bake hazelnut meringue layers. Cream recipe I used is not an authentic for Kiev cake. In the original recipe more rich and sugary cream is used. With more butter, the original cream texture is more thick, and the cream holds its shape better. However, I prefer lighter version of the cream, which I make the day before and leave refrigerated to set. Using cold cream when putting the cake together simplifies the process of even cream application on top of the cake and on the sides.

  • add half of the sugar to egg yolks, whisk until the mixture becomes pale and all sugar is practically dissolved
  • mix corn starch/flour in 100ml of cold milk
  • add milk with corn flour to beaten egg yolks
  • stir until combined
  • add the rest of the sugar and milk, stir
  • transfer the liquid to a sauce pan
  • cook on a low heat constantly stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon
  • when cream starts to thicken take it momentarily from the heat and whisk to avoid lumps
  • cook the cream until it becomes thick on very low heat
  • cream has to be very thick without lumps
  • cool the cream by putting sauce pan in a larger bowl with cold water, whisk cream at intervals (alternatively cover the cream surface with plastic wrap to avoid the formation of skin)
  • beat butter well until it becomes pale and creamy
  • add cooled down pastry cream, one table spoon at a time, and continue whisking after each addition
  • after 4-5 spoons, pastry cream can be added in larger portions
  • when all pastry cream is used, give combined cream another 1-2 min whisking
  • put 400g of prepared cream in a separate bowl
  • add 10g pure cacao powder, whisk cacao and pastry cream until completely combined
  • add vanilla extract/vanilla paste and alcohol of choice (if using) to the remaining pastry cream, mix until fully combined
  • cover bowls with both creams with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the next day
  • both creams have the time for the flavours to interact and develop deeper taste

putting the cake together

  • carefully separate hazelnut meringues from the lining, reserve any crumbs
  • gently crash the small meringue in medium to small crumbs
  • line working surface with baking paper, it would be easier to transfer the cake to any plate or cake stand later
  • use the most even level surface of the meringue as the bottom of the cake
  • use all vanilla cream, spread it in a thick layer
  • place the second meringue layer on top, make sure the edges of both meringues fit
  • apply chocolate cream on the top and sides of the second meringue
  • cover the top and sides of the cake with meringue crumbs
  • use fruit peel as decoration on top (I used my own orange peel)
  • refrigerate the cake for 4-5 hours
  • when the cake is made in the morning, it is ready to be enjoyed from late afternoon

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The unusual way of batter preparation for this hazelnut meringue, makes its texture quite unique, with hard and crunchy meringue on the outside with some still soft and chewy parts, with occasional chunky hazelnut pieces. The cake is best stored in cold and dry environment. When stored in very warm and humid environment, crumbs absorb moisture and lose their crunch. To say that we enjoyed the cake on our Christmas Day lunch is an enormous understatement. We restrained ourselves, and did not open the new season of Downton Abbey set box, we received some days earlier. It was Christmas Day to remember. Both the cake, and Downton Abbey, were a delightful experience.

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5 thoughts on “Gluten Free Hazelnut Meringue Cake – Kiev Torte

      1. Thanks. You mentioned using slightly coarse flour and what I have available is fine rice flour that’s why I asked.

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