Hazelnut crunch cake

Hazelnut crunch cake

Man. It took me forever and a day to decide what kind of cake to make Thom for his birthday. I wanted something different from years past and I was thisclose to settling on a bantella cake. Banana. Nutella. BANTELLA. Delicious, right? But then I decided I should probably let Thom choose the flavor of his cake so I sat silently while he rattled off some options.

Apple and pear. For a birthday cake? Boring. Peanut butter and strawberry. HA! No way, José. Chocolate and lime. That sounds disgusting. Something with raspberries? Did that last year, ya goon. Then finally vanilla-something with hazelnut came out of his mouth and I thought to myself, NOW WE’RE TALKING, THOM. So I got to work planning his cake and just when I was about to make him a vanilla cake in bundt form (with boozy hazelnut glaze), I was reminded that YOU CAN’T MAKE HIM A BUNDT CAKE FOR HIS BIRTHDAY, YOU NINNY! So I settled on a simple hazelnut layer cake with vanilla bean frosting. I had dreams of Ferrero Rocher innards but when I ran that idea by Thom, he made it clear that he wanted vanilla and hazelnut. Not chocolate and vanilla and hazelnut. Noted.

So I made a cake. Had a few too many cake fails (wamp wamp) but eventually I nailed the recipe. And for his birthday I surprised him with a new TV (the last time we bought a TV was in 2009 and HOLY HECK, you guys, they’re hella fancy now) (and unbelievably affordable) because I may have sold our really nice one for a measly $100 back before the kitchen renovation started. In my defense, a friend had a smaller TV she wanted to get rid of and, really, all I was thinking was smaller = better because our old TV was a giant eyesore. For those of you who know nothing about televisions (ahem, me, earlier this year), I essentially downgraded our Vitamix Pro Series 300 to an Oster Simple Blend 100 and, well, Thom was not happy. So in a desperate attempt to get out of the doghouse, I got him a new TV. But unfortunately my grand idea didn’t go according to plan because the night of his birthday – when I got about 20 of his favorite people together for a surprise celebration downtown – he proceeded to tell everyone the story of how I sold our TV on a whim. And how for eight months straight he was forced to use a television that didn’t have the internet or a single HDMI outlet (don’t even get him started on the picture quality). Moral of the story: don’t sell electronic devices that you know nothing about.

The morning after his birthday we packed up the Prius for its first trip (!) to the mountains. I had plans of taking the train to Glenwood Springs or driving up to Jackson, WY, but – at the last minute – decided Salida would be more conducive to lazy weekending. We slept in (me until 7AM, him until 10AM), ate all the things (except for the avocado oil kettle chips in the snack bin at the lodge) (I did a really good job of resisting those), walked all over the tiny town, and were tucked into bed by 8PM both nights. It was glorious. And easily one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time.

We got back on Sunday and I jumped straight into a bunch of winter recipe development (I figured I should probably get a head start if Alchemy‘s going to be launching soon), which resulted in a decadent white chocolate (peppermint) truffle recipe that’s not completely terrible for you. So get your cacao butter ready, babes, ’cause the truffles are coming next week. Also – speaking of recipes and the new year – the principle complaint I get about OLC (well, aside from the fact that there are way too many swears on this site), is that there aren’t enough cake recipes in this space. So I’m curious: Do you guys want more cake? More savory eats? Less chocolate? Less peanut butter, too? More healthy-ish desserts? Tell me. Because in 2017 it’s all about you.

CHOCOLOVEWannabe Ferrero Rocher trufflesHazelnut crunch cakeHazelnut crunch cakeHazelnut crunch cakeHazelnut crunch cakeHazelnut crunch cakeHazelnut crunch cake

Notes: If you don’t have cake flour, substitute 2 tablespoons of potato starch in place of 2 tablespoons of flour, for every cup of flour. You can use any hazelnut creamer your little hearts desire, but I tried both soy creamer and the almondmilk creamer from Califia and preferred the flavor of Califia (and I’m not just saying that because they’re a sponsor of OLC), hands down. If you don’t have 6″ cake pans, this recipe can make two 8-9″ round cake layers. I’ve provided two different frosting options – the one I went with was my go-to coconut oil frosting but I’ve provided a shortening version, as well. For chocolate frosting, add 3/4 cup of cacao powder and 1-2 tablespoons of additional almondmilk.  For the truffles, replace the coconut oil with hazelnut liqueur (use 1 full tablespoon for the half batch). I also stuffed the truffles with a hazelnut and rolled them in finely chopped hazelnuts.

More of Thom’s birthday goodness: vanilla bean + black raspberry-lucuma cake with salted pretzel crumbs, almond cake with chocolate-coconut frosting, and double chocolate cake with coconut-pecan filling.


Hazelnut cake
3 cups (395g) unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5g) fine sea salt
3/4 cup (150g) roasted hazelnut oil
1 1/2 cups (305g) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons (25g) hazelnut liqueur
2 cups (420g) hazelnut creamer
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
, finely chopped (optional)

Vanilla bean frosting (option 1)
3 cups (330g) powdered cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
3/4 cup (150g) refined coconut oil
, melted (but not hot)

Vanilla bean frosting (option 2)
1 cup (180g) non-hydrogenated shortening
1-2 tablespoons (14-28g) unsweetened almondmilk

3 cups (330g) powdered can sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder

You’ll also need
1/2 batch salted chocolate truffles (see notes above)
Toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line the bottom of three round 6″ cake pans with parchment paper then spray with oil and coat with sifted flour; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Alternate between adding the creamer and the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mixing after each addition; add one third of the creamer followed by half of the flour and repeat the process ending with the creamer. Whisk batter just until combined (don’t whisk too much or else you’ll overwork the gluten and your cake will be rubbery) then fold in the toasted hazelnuts (if using). Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, level with the back of a spoon, then tap the pans on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake at 350˚F for 36-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake layers are cooling, prepare the vanilla bean frosting. I prefer the coconut oil variety but it does dry out pretty fast and is somewhat unstable (it’ll melt off your cake if it gets above 80˚F in your house). If you’d rather have something more stable that will stay soft for a while, go for the shortening variety.

To make the coconut oil frosting (option 1), sift the powdered sugar and vanilla bean powder into a large bowl, then slowly whisk in the coconut oil until smooth.

To make the shortening frosting (option 2), add the shortening and almondmilk to a large mixing bowl and, using a hand mixer on high speed, beat just until combined. Sift the powdered sugar and vanilla bean powder over top then beat until smooth and creamy.

To assemble the cake, level the layers then place one layer on a cake stand/plate/etc. and smear with (or pipe on) a generous portion of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers and frosting. Using an offset spatula, smooth the frosting around the cake then finish with chopped hazelnuts and truffles. Serve with remaining truffles.

Cake will keep in an airtight container for up to three days (I put mine in a big pot with a silicone lid on top).

Yield: 8 slices (or 16 thin slices)

Hazelnut crunch cake


Just under three hours from Denver, Salida is the perfect place for a lazy weekend getaway. We went with absolutely nothing on our agenda and wound up taking it easy all weekend long. The town is small (<6k people-small) but it boasts great shopping, delicious food, and surprisingly drinkable coffee (which can be hard to come by in those tiny mountain towns).

The Fritz – Not much for the non-meat and dairy eating folks but I made do with some brussels and the Asian salad.
Amicas – Delicious pizas, salads, etc. Can easily be made vegan.
Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop – REAL GOOD BREAD.
Seasons Café – Great little breakfast spot. I had steel-cut oats with almond milk.
Patio Pancake Place – Absolutely nothing for vegans (not even non-dairy milk) but Thom preferred his pancake breakfast at PPP to the one at Seasons.
Little Red Hen Bakery – Delicious bread but my picky ass husband wasn’t a fan of the baked goods. Wonder why. ;)
Little Cambodia – Get the bun but skip the sweet sauce and sub peanut sauce. It’s basically a deconstructed spring roll bowl. Thom got the veggie pho and enjoyed it.

Brown Dog Coffee Company – Delicious soy latte. Though service was.. weird.
Sacred Ground Coffee – My latte was a little off but the place has great reviews so I’m just going to chalk that up to the fact that the place was slammed.

Tribal Rugs – Really gorgeous rugs. A bit expensive, but that’s to be expected.
Ruby Blues – Funky little vintage shop.
Fay and Maye – Housewares! And my favor American Heirloom cake stands.
Howl Mercantile – Gorgeous jewelry, Dram bitters, and ceramics. Oh, and Corvus on draft.
Sunshine Market – Part apothecary, part health food shop. Great place to grab snacks for the weekend.

We stayed at Amigo Motor Lodge and I would highly recommend it. The rooms are plush AF and they have a fridge stocked with Califia Farms soooooooo do you really need any other reasons to stay?

A M I G OAmigo Motor LodgeRoom No. 01Salida, CODowntown Salida


  • Reply valentina | sweet kabocha 15 December 2016 at 9:24 AM

    I love so much reading your stories (I think yours is the only food blog I REALLY read, ahem). I don’t know Tom, but Lorenzo would have killed me in that situation, lol!
    You’re lucky btw, when I ask him what kind of cake he wants he ALWAYS tells me : “Chocolate and strawberries. Can’t you put fresh strawberries on a simple chocolate cake? Why you need some melted chocolate (aka ganache or frosting) on top? ….Well, do what you want.” -_- He’s so picky.

  • Reply Sarah | Well and Full 15 December 2016 at 9:30 AM

    YOU NINNIE!! ;) This cake, though, is very non-ninnie. Just sayin’. Can you make me a cake for my birthday too? Pretty please?

  • Reply Gayatri 15 December 2016 at 9:56 AM

    I love, love reading your stories!! This cake is such a stunner, I think I’d just want to stick it in a glass case and charge people to come see it :D So perfect!

  • Reply Karlie 15 December 2016 at 10:13 AM

    OMG drooling! I wish it was my birthday!!! might have to make it anyway.. xx

  • Reply Victoria 15 December 2016 at 10:56 AM

    More savoury eats nooo! There are too many savoury recipe blogs! I’d vote for everything chocolate and peanut butter and (some healthy recipes mixed in there too). Happy holidays :)

    • Reply Hanna 15 December 2016 at 1:53 PM

      I have to agree with Victoria. I love the savory recipes you’ve posted (the peanut stew is a winter staple) but I’d prefer if you continued to keep them to a minimum. You and Angela from Oh She Glows are the only two bloggers who provide reliable vegan dessert recipes so I would love more of those. Cakes, cookies, pastries…baked goods! But yes to more cake! Just please please please don’t go using coconut sugar and whole wheat flour in everything, I beg you. And please write more. Your alfredo post reminded me why I love your blog so much.

      Happy belated birthday to Thom! This cake is gorgeous.

  • Reply Abby | Lace & Lilacs 15 December 2016 at 11:25 AM

    Happy, happy birthday to Thom! And OH MY GOODNESS, Ashlae, this cake is too dreamy. And your photos couldn’t be more perfect, seriously. Obsessed with this. (And I’m always down for more pretty pictures of yummy things… sweet especially. ;) ) xo

  • Reply Jordan 15 December 2016 at 1:26 PM

    A) We’ve only been to Salida once. But Amica’s pizza was a lifesaver after a too-cold camping weekend.
    B) That cake looks so damn good. Happy birthday, Thom!
    C) These Salida recs are getting bookmarked! We’re usually camping on the weekends, but every once in a while I’d like a chill, indoors getaway.
    D) The TV story is hilarious. I once sold our flat screen to buy us tickets to New York. He repaid me by insisting that we pick up a free TV via a Craigslist that is basically the 1998 version of a Zenith. But, in his words –”it’s perfect for playing Mario Kart on our N64.”

  • Reply Pia 15 December 2016 at 2:55 PM

    Thom sure is one lucky man, I must say! I mean, I doubt many husbands get custom made (AND HOMEMADE) cakes for their birthday -my dad surely does not.
    Anyway, it sounds like you had a fabulous little trip, so, me is very happy for the two of you :)
    And finally: too many swearwords? Really? Well, I disagree, and I love Oh Lady Cakes’ casual and unfiltered voice.
    Hugs xx

  • Reply Gemma 15 December 2016 at 3:54 PM

    Amazing cake Ashlae! You always come up with really great cake ideas…so please, we want more cakes!!! :-)
    Savory recipes are cool but like Victoria and Hanna said above, there are already a lot of food blogs out there with plant-based savory recipes but not enough (at least in my opinion) blogs about high-quality vegan bakery. Keep up the great work! Keep satisfying our sweet tooth! <3


  • Reply Molly 15 December 2016 at 4:03 PM

    You gotta know this question is coming sooner or later…

    Where’s the cake stand from? :-D

    • Reply Molly 15 December 2016 at 4:04 PM

      Unless of course I’m also being a ninny and it’s from Fay & May.

  • Reply Carrie 15 December 2016 at 4:12 PM

    Pie. Cake. Brownies. Cookies. Everything sweet! I only say this because you have a serious gift for creating decadent vegan desserts. I’ve told you this before but my butter loving father has no clue your chocolate chunk cookies are made with coconut oil and I don’t plan on telling him anytime soon. So yes, more indulgent desserts but maybe a few healthy ones too. I’m all about some balance in 2017. 🙃

  • Reply Abby 15 December 2016 at 4:24 PM

    I love your stories and your swear words! I must swear a lot because I honestly don’t notice when you do swear :D
    Love all your recipes but since I’m on a treating my body better plan myself I’d love to see more savory stuff and healthy-ish types of things. On the other hand, my nephew has a dairy allergy and this is my go-to spot for all family gathering desserts.
    Long story short: I’m wishy washy as fuck, keep doing what you do, lady!

  • Reply AJ 15 December 2016 at 5:00 PM

    I would love to see some more healthy-ish desserts!

  • Reply Jacqueline 15 December 2016 at 5:34 PM

    I would like to see more savory recipes, but I get why other people want more desserts. I am just too lazy/haven’t found a lot of good savory whole food blogs that aren’t annoying and I like your voice so much I want to hear it tell me more about cashew cream, which I tried and whoa. So good. Healthy-ish desserts with no chocolate would be welcome though as chocolate keeps me up at night. Also, in case this helps you with your sponsors at all, I want you to know that my fridge currently looks like a Califa Farms commercial and that’s all because of you.

  • Reply Jade 15 December 2016 at 5:43 PM

    This cake looks DIVINE! The hubby & I just got a new tv after not having one for about 2 years and WHOA, things look vastly different now… especially when viewed on a larger platform than a laptop…

  • Reply Rebecca 15 December 2016 at 8:40 PM

    Cake! Cake! Cake! I’d love more cake, less chocolate and pb, and more fruit-flavors. Also, your stories are always fantastic. If it were up to me, I’d say keep at that and the curse words too. :) But really, do what you want.!

  • Reply maya kuijper 15 December 2016 at 11:50 PM

    what a gorgeous cake, really beautiful. I love olc as it is, such a good mix of everything, but it’s of course totally up to you. just keep the amazing photos & recipes coming xx

  • Reply Carlos At Spoonabilities 16 December 2016 at 2:46 AM

    I like the cake idea. It was the perfect choice for Thom’s birthday. This cake besides looking rustic and beautiful, It looks delicious. You can never go wrong with Hazelnut and Vanilla flavor. I think I may have to try this recipe; The only thing is that cake won’t look as beautiful as yours.
    The concept decor at the motel is very cozy!
    Happy Weekend!

  • Reply hannah 16 December 2016 at 8:21 AM

    Is the language really your #1 complaint? Lame. As far as recipe requests…I’m assuming “herb’d” recipes are off the table? If so, I mostly use OLC for healthy-ish treats that are reasonably simple, such as last night when I made the PB-banana trail mix cookies. That shit is right up my alley. Cakes are fun to read about, but my savory-toothed husband has no interest…even for his own birthday. DOUBLE fucking lame.

  • Reply Maya | Spice + Sprout 17 December 2016 at 4:14 PM

    Ashlae, this is AMAZING! Love the flavours here, so many different types of hazelnut going into it. Your trip sounds so nice + relaxing. Alsooooo can’t wait for more news on Alchemy <3

  • Reply Meg 19 December 2016 at 3:59 PM

    MORE CAKE! + more healthy desserts bc #balance. Lmao. Also, how the hell do I frost a cake without making a god damn mess???? Is there special tools involved?? If so, where do noobs go to get them? P.S. Can I like a comment?? I’m with Hannah ^^^^ wanted: herb’d recipes.

  • Reply Simone Anne 20 December 2016 at 5:30 PM

    People complain about your beautiful site and your glorious recipes? Get them outta town! jk. No requests, just keep doin’ you! xo

    Happy Birthday Thom!!

  • Reply Barb@ThatWasVegan? 21 December 2016 at 3:35 PM

    I want more pie, cake, etcetera, but the catch is that I need you to come to my house and bake them all for me. K?

  • Reply Lauren 22 December 2016 at 1:36 AM

    I would agree with those encouraging you to continue, primarily, with desserts. I very much appreciate how reliable these recipes are from your diligent testing. Every dessert I’ve made from this blog always turns out very well. It’s nice to not have to scroll through all of the comments on a recipe post to see if someone has made it and if it failed or not; that never happens with this blog.

  • Reply Zimri Mendonça 27 January 2017 at 11:07 PM

    I always love to see pastry & cake recipes, especially of the indulgent & decadent variety, but other types of recipes are great, too. It’s all about what makes you happy ^_^

  • Reply Vee 2 August 2017 at 10:22 PM

    Hey Ashlae! I have a few frosting-related questions for you. Yours is one of the few recipes that I’ve seen that uses melted coconut oil, as opposed to solid oil that’s then whipped vigorously with powdered sugar in a stand-mixer. Have you tried both kinds of frosting, and if so, how do they compare to each other? Also, how do the coconut- and shortening-based frostings compare to each other? Is there any reason the coconut oil is your preference?

    Yours is obviously a lot easier (I don’t have a stand-mixer…or even a very good hand-mixer, but considering getting one). I’m experimenting with frostings for a wedding cake. I’m thinking of trying to stabilize a coconut-based frosting with agar. I don’t have access to really good shortening where I am, but if all else fails I’ll think about shipping some in. Can’t have that frosting melting off the cake.

    • Reply Ashlae 3 August 2017 at 6:13 AM

      Hi Vee –

      It’s totally a preference thing. I have a bunch of cake recipes that use shortening-based frosting (on this site) and prefer those when I want something light and fluffy.. and stable. Coconut oil frosting is great for naked cakes (it hardens) but I would not recommend it for a wedding cake as it is strongly impacted by room temperature.. and that’s generally an unknown (unless you’re at home). Good luck!

      • Reply Vee 7 August 2017 at 9:10 PM

        Mmm. You’re right. I’ll look into getting my hands on some shortening. Thank you!

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