While flicking through one of my lastest cookbooks “Baking with Julia” I noticed the recipe for Hazelnut Baby Loaves. The texture of these cakes was so delicate that I really had to try them. 
Sitting in the fridge was a cup of homemade mascarpone leftover from a recent recipe so I decided to substitute this for the cup of creme fraiche. The result was a moist, delicate and beautifully scented cake on which I drizzled lemon glaze. This is a recipe I will make time and time again.
The Cakes ( adapted from Baking with Julia)
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1 cup castor sugar
1 2/3 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 cup mascarpone cheese
125g butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Melted butter  and flour for greasing the pans
First peel the hazelnuts. Heat the oven to 180C. Bring 1 cup water to the boil add 1 1/2 tablespoons bi carb soda and the hazelnuts. Boil for 3 minutes or until the skins slip off easily. Drain and rinse under cool water. Peel and dry well. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted.   
 Grease and flour 12 muffin pans.
Place the hazelnuts and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until fine. Do not overprocess or you will have nut butter. Stir the ground nuts together with flour. Set aside. Mix mascarpone and almond essence. Reserve.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating until fluffy.
Now, working with a rubber spatula fold in the flour alternately with the mascarpone. 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of mascarpone. You will have a thick batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin pans.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven allow to rest for a minute or two. Remember they are delicate. Turn out carefully and allow to cool.
I iced my cakes with lemon icing – simply a mixture of icing sugar and strained lemon juice. This was a lovely combination of delicate aromatic cake with tangy icing. 
OK, so this is not “lite” recipe but so worth making.
Somehow calming and soothing.
   

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