The mirliton is the easiest cake in my repertoire to prepare, as well as one of the tastiest. And as an added bonus, it is gluten-free. I chose to include this cake in the Eggs & Dairy chapter because it gets its structure from the wholesome goodness of eggs, with a little help from cornstarch. The almond and hazelnut flours are not only very forgiving but also make the cake inherently very moist. The addition of the spices used in the traditional pain d’épices gives it a certain je ne sais quoi.
- Yield: 1 10-IN (25-CM) ROUND CAKE
- 6 (300 g) whole eggs
- 4 (80 g) egg yolks
- 2½ cups (240 g) hazelnut flour
- 1¼ cups (120 g) almond flour
- 3 tbsp (30 g) cornstarch
- ½ tsp (2 g) ground Ceylon cinnamon
- ½ tsp (2 g) ground green cardamom
- ½ tsp (2 g) ground cloves
- 1¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp (12 g) vanilla bean paste
- 1 Orange grated zest
- 1 Lemon grated zest
- Set the eggs out about 1 hour ahead of time to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the hazelnut and almond flours on the parchment. Toast in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown and the aromas fill the room. Let cool to room temperature. Once cool, sift the nut flours with the cornstarch, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves into a large bowl.
- Coat the bottom and sides of a 10-in (25-cm) round cake pan with cooking spray, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, and press it in to line the pan. Cut a second piece of parchment paper into a strip 2 in (5 cm) wide to line the inside edge of the pan and press it in to set.
- Put the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla bean paste, orange zest, and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip at high speed, until the mixture triples in size and forms stiff, pale peaks when pulled up with the whisk. (Be sure the eggs are at room temperature when you start; cold eggs at this stage will reach only half the volume needed.) With the mixer on low speed, gently mix in the flour-cornstarch mixture, just until everything comes together. Take care not to deflate the batter. Gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Place into the center of the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until a light golden brown crust forms on the top and the cake begins to visibly rise. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and lightly bounces back to the touch. To check doneness, insert a paring knife straight into the center of the cake; it should come out clean and hot to the touch. Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven and set it on a cooling rack to cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. When the cake is cool to the touch, use an offset spatula to loosen the outside of the paper lining from the pan. Invert the cake over a plate or a baking sheet and then shake to release the cake from the pan. Remove the paper lining from the cake and reinvert it onto a plate or baking sheet so that the cake is right-side up.
- The cake is best enjoyed immediately for the full nutty, spicy flavor. It can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.