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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Tom Hunt

How to make a luxurious cake from stale rye bread – recipe

Tom Hunt’s current favourite teatime treat: Trine Hahnemann’s brødtorte, or rye bread cake.
Tom Hunt’s current favourite teatime treat: Trine Hahnemann’s brødtorte, or rye bread cake. Photograph: Tom Hunt/The Guardian

Hand on heart, this is my new favourite cake – and it’s made from stale bread. Old rye bread and ground hazelnuts are whizzed up in place of flour, then folded with whisked eggs to create an incredible dark and malty cake with a nutty texture.

I’ve adapted today’s recipe from one by the legendary baker Trine Hahnemann, who owns a bakery and cooking school, Hahnemanns Køkken, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Whenever they have excess rye bread, they often make this brødtorte cake, and use any leftovers or trimmings make romkugler, or rum truffles, another Danish tradition that reconfirms their love of cake (and leftovers).

Danish brødtorte (rye cake)

Trine Hahnemann is a Danish baker and food writer after my own heart. Not only does she make the most incredible cakes (this one included), but she always cooks with thrift in mind.

Hahnemann tells me that this cake was first served in Southern Jutland after the war in 1864, as part of a sønderjysk kaffebord, or a traditional cake table. Danish people were not allowed to join political meetings in liquor taverns, instead meeting in special assembly houses. Women would bring cake for people to enjoy but also to show their political will and presence at these important meetings (before women were allowed to vote).

I first tried blackstrap molasses when I was 14. “Eat this”, my mum said, shoving a spoon of strange black syrup into my mouth. I had just turned vegetarian – until I caught myself sneaking ham from the fridge at night! As a concerned parent, my mother researched my nutritional needs and decided that I must eat a spoon of iron-rich blackstrap molasses or treacle every day. It’s similar to Marmite in colour, viscosity and sentiment: you either love it or hate it.

I’m trying to lower my sugar intake by eating sweet treats less often, in smaller portions and, whenever possible, by reducing the amount of sugar in my sweets. In this recipe I’ve swapped the sugar for treacle or blackstrap molasses and reduced the quantity from the original recipe by 50g. I like to use alternative whole-food sweeteners like blackstrap molasses and honey to turn up the flavour dial, increase nutrition and save the upstream waste created by processed foods.

Prep 25 min
Cook 12 min
Serves 10-12

150g hazelnuts, or other nuts
150g stale rye bread, broken into pieces
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
6 eggs
150g black strap molasses
(or treacle), or soft dark brown sugar
300ml double cream
6 tbsp blackberry jam, or other
50g 75-85% cocoa dark chocolate

Toast the hazelnuts in a pan over a medium heat for five minutes or until golden brown. Once cool, pulse-blend in a food processor with the rye bread, baking powder and cocoa powder, into a fine crumb.

Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls. Whisk the yolks with the molasses or soft dark brown sugar until it doubles in volume, then fold in the rye bread mix.

Next, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the rye batter with a metal spoon. Divide between two greased and lined 24cm cake tins and bake in an oven heated to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 for 12 minutes. Once the cakes are cool, spread half the double cream on to one of the cakes andthe blackberry jam on the other. Sandwich the fillings together, top the cake with the remaining cream and grate over the dark chocolate.

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