For the month of January, Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake also known as the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream? This Torte is not to be rushed in preparation and she recommends making the torte layers one day and the rest of the cake the following day, or to assemble it but leave the decoration for another day.

In the 19th century, a confectioner from Budapest baked and named the Esterhazy Torte after the wealthy Prince Paul III Anton Esterhazy de Galantha, a member of the Esterhazy dynasty and diplomat of the Austrian Empire. This recipe traditionally uses toasted hazelnuts. I had to scale down by half because it would have taken me hours to get the skin off so many hazelnuts before I got started with the torte. Kudos to Jelena for sharing this spectacular cake with us!



For the Hazelnut Sponge Layers

12 large egg whites

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (9 oz) (250 gm) caster (superfine) sugar

2 tablespoons (2/3 oz) (20 gm) vanilla sugar

2½ cups (9 oz) (250 gm) ground hazelnuts

2/3 cup (2¾ oz) (80 gm) plain (all purpose) flour

For the Hazelnut Cream

12 large egg yolks

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (9 oz) (250 gm) caster (superfine) sugar

2 tablespoons (2/3 oz) (20 gm) vanilla sugar

1 -1/3 cups (10½ oz) (300 gm) butter at room temperature

1½ cups (5-1/3 oz)(150 gm) toasted ground hazelnuts

For the Apricot Jam Glaze

Around 3 tablespoons (45 ml) (1-2/3 oz) (45 gm) apricot jam

1 teaspoon (5 ml) water

For the White Icing

2½ to 3¼ cups (10-2/3 to 14 oz) (300-400 gm) icing sugar

2 teaspoons (10 ml) sunflower oil

3-4 teaspoons (15-20 ml) lemon juice

Around 4 tablespoons (60 ml) hot water

For the Chocolate Decoration

1/4 cup (1¾ oz) (50 gm) dark chocolate

1 teaspoon (5 ml) oil

3/4 cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) roughly chopped hazelnuts


  • Place hazelnuts in a cold oven and increase temperature to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  • Bake them until a nice aroma starts to come out of the oven and the nuts have become darker.
  • Continue till their skins almost turn black or dark brown and the nuts becomes caramel colored.

  • Watch the oven carefully since the nuts can easily burn. It should take about 15 to 25 minutes.
  • This baking process brings out the aroma of the hazelnuts needed for the cake. Let them cool.
  • Set aside ¾ cup toasted nuts and roughly chop them. These will go around the cake at the end.

  • The rest need to be ground. A grinding machine is best else the nuts will turn into creamy mush.
  • If you are using a processor do it in short pulses so they do have the consistency of fine powder.
  • Divide ground nuts into 2 batches of 2½ and 1½ cups for the sponge and the filling respectively.

Hazelnut [Dacquoise] Layers

  • Beat egg whites while gradually adding sugar and vanilla sugar for 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
  • Turn the mixer to the lowest speed. Add hazelnuts mixed with the flour and beat until just combined.
  • Cut baking paper into five squares large enough to draw a circle of 25cm in diameter on the squares.

  • Turn the baking paper over and place one piece of paper with the circle onto an up-side down tray.
  • Delicately spoon one-fifth of the beaten egg white mixture inside the circle drawn on the baking paper.
  • Place the tray into an preheated moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3 oven and bake for 14 minutes.

  • It will look soft but that is how we want them. Your finger should not stick to the layer when touched.
  • Take the layer out together with the paper and place on an even surface. Cool oven tray completely.
  • Repeat with the next 4 layers. It is important that the tray is cool when you start to bake the layers.

Hazelnut Filling

  • The filling is cooked in a double boiler. If you do not have double boiler take a small and a large pot.
  • The smaller one should fit perfectly in the larger one and there should be no gap between the pots.
  • Fill the larger pot with about 1-inch (2 cm) water place on the stove and bring the water to a slow boil.

  • Water should not touch the small pot. Beat egg yolks and sugar with in the small pot for 30 seconds.
  • Place the smaller pot into the larger one and cook the filling for 14-15 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir it with a wooden spoon always scraping the sides and the bottom. Stir constantly, near the end.

  • Let the filling cool to room temperature. Beat the cooked yolks for 30 seconds with an electric mixer.
  • Beat the room temperature butter for 2 minutes until light and fluffy then beat into the cooked yolks.
  • Add in the ground hazelnuts and beat again until combined. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the filling.

  • Divide the rest of the filling into 4 cups. Line a large tray with some baking paper trimming to fit it.
  • Remove baking paper and place it onto the tray, spread one quantity of filing evenly over dacquoise.
  • Then place another layer on the top. Repeat, making sure that the last layer is placed bottom-side-up.

  • Place some baking paper over the torte. Press with hands to even it out, put another tray over the torte.
  • Place something heavy on the top to allow the torte to level up. A pan half-filled with water will be fine.
  • Place the whole torte with the pot in the fridge for one hour. Prepare the apricot jam glaze meanwhile.

Apricot Jam Glaze

  • Heat the apricot jam along with the water on the stove. Remove the top baking paper from the torte.
  • Spread the jam thinly on top of it. Place the torte back in the fridge for 30 minutes for the jam to cool.
  • When the 30 minutes is up, spread the 2 tablespoons of reserved hazelnut filling around the cake.

White Icing

  • By hand mix the powdered sugar, oil, lemon juice while adding teaspoon by teaspoon of hot water.
  • Continue until the mixture is creamy but it should not runny. Mix vigorously for a couple of minutes.
  • The sugar should be lemony. With a hot wet large knife quickly spread the icing over the apricot layer.

  • You will need around 2½ to 3¼ cups of powdered sugar but it is better to have more than less icing
  • Once you start spreading the white icing on the torte you cannot go back. You may have some left over.
  • If the icing is a bit uneven just turn on the hair dryer and heat the icing so it will smooth out a bit.

Chocolate Decoration and Assembly

  • Before starting with the icing have the chocolate ready. It needs to go on the soft icing immediately.
  • Melt the chocolate with a teaspoon of oil, place in a piping bag with a cut in the corner for the tip.
  • Draw four concentric circles onto the cake. Use a knife or a skewer run six lines at 30 degree angle.

  • Each line should be in a different direction. One running away and the next one running towards you.
  • Press the remaining crushed hazelnuts around the sides of the iced cake to complete the decoration.
  • Let rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours before tasting. It keeps for up to 1 week. Servings: 10-12.

Esterhazy Torte from Hungary