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Cozonac cu Nuca (Romanian Spongecake with Walnuts)

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Cozonac cu Nuca (Romanian Spongecake with Walnuts)

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Ingredients

Ingredients for two cakes:
1 kg Flour
250 g Sugar
250 g Butter a drop of oil (a tablespoon, to be exact)
4 Egg Yolks
vanilla sugar
peel of lemon
Salt
Rum essence
0.5 l Milk
35 g Raw yeast
300 g walnuts
Cuisine:
    • Medium

    Ingredients

    • Ingredients for two cakes:

    Directions

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    Spongecake is a traditional Romanian dessert typically served during major holidays such as Easter and Christmas. However, as time has marched on, shop-bought spongecakes have become more and more popular as people prefer not to make their own at home. Here we show you how easy it is to make your own spongecake with a tried and true recipe that preserves the authentic taste.

    Chef Adrian Hadean has revealed the spongecake recipe he inherited from his family. He makes it every year, for Easter and Christmas, and he recommends it for you too.

    I learnt the recipe from my mother, who learnt it from her mother, who learnt it from her grandmother. Therefore, it has been circulating in our family for at least five generations and has undergone only a few changes in the last hundred years. While my grandmother used to bake it in the oven in the yard, from my mother onward we have baked them in the oven of the stove. While we flavored the mixture with lemon peel, vanilla and rum essence, my grandmother and her ancestors limited themselves to vanilla sugar. It wasn’t easy to be a peasant in Transylvania before the Second World War, nor after it, because the essences, food aromas and citrus fruits were not found in the village, and they didn’t get to the city very often. Well, with or without rum essence or other enhancements, the walnut spongecake appears in our homes for Easter and Christmas, it is a part of the family, it is the way back to the roots of our nation. I am glad that I have the opportunity to show you this path and I hope to be able to show it to those who, by the will of God, will come after me – Chef Adrian Hadean

    How to Make Spongecake with Walnuts:

    1. First put the yeast in a cup of milk along with a teaspoon of sugar.
    2. Mix the walnuts with sugar (one part sugar to three parts walnuts) and a teaspoon of cocoa (this is an aesthetic addition, the walnut darkens in color and the cake looks better in the cut).
    3. Sift the flour. If you don’t sift it, it will not take up air and will not rise as much as it should. And when it comes to rising, don’t be fooled into putting in too much yeast because you will taste it in the cake and you won’t like it.
    4. Mix the flour with four egg yolks (there is more in the pictures because I use ingredients for three cakes), a sachet of vanilla sugar, a few drops of rum essence, grated peel of a lemon, yeast and a pinch of salt.
    5. Meanwhile, heat the milk slightly (do not boil) and dissolve the sugar and butter in it. If you heat the milk too much it can kill the yeast and the cake won’t rise.
    6. Allow the milk to cool slightly (COMMENT: is the milk poured into the flour then kneaded?) then knead with flour.
    7. Knead thoroughly for a little more than half an hour by hand (we can’t let the machines get involved in our rituals, can we?). The mixture should be soft, slightly elastic, and full of love and good cheer. And the aches you’ll feel in your fingers are not superfluous either, that’s how the story of this spongecake has to be written.
    8. After kneading, leave the mixture to rise for an hour under a clean towel.
    9. Then spread it thicker than half a finger (lying down, not standing) on a sheet and put on top the filling. Twist the cake and place it in the baking pan.
    10. Leave to rise covered for another half hour then put in the oven. The heat must be enough to slowly cook the cake, to penetrate well, so it rises steadily rather than swells suddenly. It bakes in three quarters of an hour.
    11. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with water.
    12. Cover immediately with a towel, let it absorb the steam to soften the top (which is very hard if you brushed the cake with beaten egg before putting it in the oven). Leave it covered until it cools down so that the cold air doesn’t get to it all of a sudden as it could collapse.
    13. If you put in a lot of walnuts, they will form a tunnel at the top and it will not be as good looking after you cut it. But this is a good shortcoming, especially if you like nuts. And after all, you can’t have it all.
    Spongecake with Walnuts
    Spongecake with Walnuts; Photo credit: Vvssmmaann

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