Ingredients (serves 4-6): 4 egg whites, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 pinch salt, 100 g sugar, 110 g butter, 250 g ground hazelnuts, 50 g flour, 5 g baking powder, powdered sugar.
Butter a 24-cm springform pan, preheat the oven to 180°. Beat the egg whites with the salt and lemon juice until very stiff, swirling in a total of 40 g sugar in two portions. Melt the butter in a bain-marie. Mix the ground hazelnuts with the sifted flour, baking powder and the remaining 60 g sugar. Fold in the beaten egg whites, but be careful to keep the mixture airy. Then, to make a smooth batter, gently stir in the melted butter. Pour into the tin and bake the cake at 180° for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool, dust with icing sugar and serve with redcurrant jelly.
With Waldemar Thomas at Hazelnut Dirker
.An amiable food is the hazelnut, writes the here and there Waverley Root, "unobtrusive and restrained and one of the sweetest nut varieties". We thought so too as children and could hardly wait for the nuts to begin to ripen. But we didn't want to wait until they turned brown and even fell out of their helmet-like fruit shells, because our chances against the squirrels would have been nil. The young hazelnuts tasted sweet indeed; however, we did not notice that they cause a runaway because of their roughness, as Magister Elzholtz warned. Nor were we aware of the enormous health benefits of nuts, which are far superior to milk and eggs, for example, in terms of their content of vitamins, minerals and nutritional value. Thus, the people of prehistoric times, who had yet to learn how to handle grains, provided themselves with the hazelnuts as a staple food of the autumn and winter quasi-full.
The forest hazelnut bush was brought to Italy by the Romans and cultivated and refined in the province of Avellino. This explains the species name Corylus Avellana; in France, avelines are considered the biggest and best hazelnuts of all. Ingo Holland, the most talented chef in the Rhine-Main area and a gifted patissier (Restaurant Altes Rentamt, Klingenberg), swears by hazelnuts from the Seeberger company. They are available in many supermarkets and are the fine, aromatic and large-calibre "Römer hazelnut kernels". A particularly good hazelnut paste is available from Dipak Sapré, ("Raw Materials for Fine Cooking", Tel.: 09194-797907).
The hazelnut, Waverley Root enthuses, has an unmistakable aroma that cannot be described. It reminds of the smell of unsalted, fresh butter, of certain wines and mushrooms. How it would have taken his breath away if he had been able to taste Dirker's hazelnut spirit! Whereby it is already an extraordinary culinary experience just to smell the noble schnapps (0,5 l, 19 Euro). Although a trained carpenter, Arno Josef Dirker, who has already been mentioned here, is the master of spirits. "His thing" is to distill the most incredible schnapps from the seemingly most unsuitable raw materials. For his hazelnut spirit, Dirker roasts the nuts, which is crucial to developing their flavor. (Also, when used in cooking, it does well to roast the nuts at about 80° until they smell really good, and then rub off the brown skin with a rough cloth). The typical noisette bouquet of the Dirker spirit is brought about by two additional spices, which the master does not reveal, of course.
To "Creusois", the hazelnut cake from Auvergne, they serve hazelnut liqueur there. However, Dirker's fine spirit tastes even better with it, because it is less sweet.
Arno Josef and Elke Dirker
Opening hours: Sale ex distillery by tel. arrangement; viewing possible
from Waldemar Thomas