Nut lovers will go nuts for the Croatian torta Hrapocusa, or Dol Cake. The almond cake supports a massise walnut topping, all held together with loads of sugar and eggs.
Well this is officially my first Croatian recipe here on CulturEatz! Not only that but the torta Hrapocusa specifically comes from a small village of Dol, on the Croation island of Brac. You and I may have never heard of it before, but over there the cake is a huge deal. They say every family in Dol has their own secret recipe. And there is an annual Night of Hrapocusa event where the population goes from about 100 inhabitants to over a 1,000 people.
Let’s find out more about this very popular cake (which I turned into ‘cupcakes’).
The cake from Brac, Croatia
So first things first, it is pronounced “huh-rap-choose-sa”. And it is pretty much unlike any cake you have ever tried before. The bottom part consists of almond-based sponge with orange notes, while the top part is made of a walnut brittle with lemon notes. And where does the name come from? Not only is it named after rugged stones from the nearby caves, the cake kinda looks like the homonymous rocks too!
The Island of Brac is located in the Adriatic Sea and it is the largest island in Dalmatia. Dalmatia is one of four historical regions in Croatia. Yes the people are called Dalmatians, not to be confused with the cute dogs 😉 The cake comes from the small village of Dol which is know for it’s rolling hills, pine and fig trees, isolated bays and clear water. The last census of 2011 puts the population at 130 souls. Now that is tiny!
How Sweet it is
I thought I would be ‘portion’ smart so I actually halved the recipe posted below and I used a muffin tin to make 6 ‘cupcakes’ (a full recipe would be 12 ‘cupcakes’). The images I have seen of this cake are really not pretty. This cake will never win the swimsuit competition in a pageant lol. So a small individual size could be prettier. And I think I succeeded in that mission.
However one cupcake is way too much for a single serving. This cake is SWEET, like hurt your teeth sweet. I have a massive sweet tooth which usually balks at claims of ‘it’s too sweet’. Not this time, just too much sugar for me. It is however naturally gluten-free! I recommend cutting your “cupcake’ in 2 or 4 portions. Delicious, that is is so just go for a small portion and enjoy!
Hrapocusa (Croatian Dol Cake)
- 250 g / 9oz / 1 3/4 cups ground almonds meal
- 400 g / 14oz / 3 1/2 cups walnuts halves and pieces
- 600 g / 1 1/3lb / 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 orange
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 Tbsp kirsch maraschino or other cherry-flavored liquor
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 480°F / 249°C / Gas Mark 9 1/2.
- Add to your mixer bowl the zest and juice from 1/2 orange, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tbsp of cherry-flavored liquor and 200g / 1 cup of the sugar. Mix gently until homogeneous.
- Separate the 6 eggs, adding the yolks directly into the mixer bowl. Retain the whites separately: 4 whites in one bowl, the remaining 2 in another. Mix the ingredients from step 2 with the yolks until it yields a uniform batter. Beat the bowl with 2 egg whites until you have somewhat stiff peaks.
- Add half of the beaten egg whites and half of the almond meal to the batter. Fold in to incorporate and stir gently to homogeneity. Then add the remaining almond meal and egg whites, folding in and stirring gently as before.
- Place a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan. Pour the resulting cake batter into the springform pan on top of the parchment paper.
- Bake according to this schedule: 5 minutes at 392°F /200°C / Gas Mark 6 (drop the oven to this temperature immediately after placing cake inside), 15 minutes at 350°F / 176°C / Gas Mark 4; 15 minutes at 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3.
- Begin checking the cake approx 5 minutes after lowering the temperature to 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3 (or approx 25 minutes after beginning to bake). When a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven. If the center has swollen due to baking, press gently with the back of the wooden spoon to flatten the surface.
- While the bottom cake is baking, place the remaining 4 egg whites, 400g / 2 cups sugar and the walnuts in a large pot. Turn up the burner to medium-high heat and stir aggressively for approx 15 minutes, making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t scorch. Stop when the liquid takes on a beige/caramel color.
- Add the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon and the remaining 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to the walnut-caramel mixture. Stir to spread uniformly throughout the mixture.
- Pour the resulting walnut mixture over the bottom layer of the cake. Make the top even with the back of the wooden spoon.
- Place the cake back in the oven (at 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3) and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the top takes on a golden color.
- Allow to cool for 90 minutes. Then gently remove from springform pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.