During my absence in online world early September, I paid a visit to another city, the city of nuts (please do not get me wrong, literally I went to city of nuts, particularly hazelnuts). The name of the city is Ordu and it is located at the north shore of Turkey. Being situated at the north provided the place with a mild climate and inevitable rainy days during the whole year, including summer time. It is no difficult job for you to guess which plant gets a kick out of this extremely humid weather? Hazelnut trees for sure. Right, left, up or down everywhere is full of hazelnut trees. Considering almost 75% of the hazelnuts consumed in all over the world is produced in Turkey and Ordu being one of the main places for hazelnut cultivation, it should not be that surprising. The funny thing is that upon our arrival farmers harvested all of the hazelnuts till the last single piece and I was unable to see even one green fresh hazelnut on any of the branches.
No worries, I personally tried this year’s harvest for you and can sincerely report that you will have delicious pralines and chocolate truffles for the coming year since these hazelnuts are extensively used in confectionery business around the world. These small beads are not only delicious but they are brimmed with protein and unsaturated fat with significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6 as well (good for our heart and veins).
The most famous brand associated with hazelnut is “Nutella” of Italy but for my taste locally produced Turkish version “Sarelle” is surpassing with its topnotch flavor due to high hazelnut ratio. Besides they made a recent addition to their existing product line, the bitter version of traditional hazelnut spread, which make me delighted since I am normally fond of bitter chocolate and consider the level of sweetness in regular chocolate is overwhelming the cocoa essence. Unfortunately you will not get the chance to taste it unless you pay a visit to Turkey since it is not an international brand and consequently not distributed to foreign retail chains.
As for the daily life of the village I visited, I can call it is split into two periods in a year; before the harvest and after the harvest. During the early spring the producers fertilize the orchard and make necessary arrangements for well being of hazelnut trees and at the end of summer the rush begins. Producers need to hire workers to gather the crop first and stack all of the harvest at a corner in the yard to get dry for a week. Capsules of the dried hazelnuts get loose and by the help of harvester device they can be vacuumed hands down. An additional week is required to dry them further before stowing. Right after that, the second period begins and all producers try to sell their products at a higher price than the previous year which is almost out of the question. Time elapses very slowly following the harvest, you visit your neighbor in the morning and he/she pays a visit in the afternoon the same day. Chit chatting and speculating on the hazelnut price is the main activity of this never ending visit cycle. As for me, living slowly was a bit strange at first but I enjoyed the idea of taking my time and swinging in the hammock all day long. Sometimes it feels good to be lazy.
If you also feel lazy nowadays you will love this easy to make torte recipe I adapted from New York Times Dessert Cookbook. It was originally made with plum but I used peaches. Moreover I preferred using whole wheat flour and combined powdered hazelnuts giving the torte a sublime flavor.
Ingredients (makes 8 servings)
- ½ cup (115 g.) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (150 g.)sugar
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2-3 peaches (peeled and sliced)
- 35 g. powdered hazelnut
|1.||Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).|
|2.||Cream sugar and softened butter in a bowl by the help of a stand mixer.|
|3.||Whisk together flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt, and powdered hazelnut and add to creamed picture.|
|4.||Add eggs, and beat well.|
|5.||Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 9 –inch (23 cm) springform pan.|
|6.||Place the peach slices on top of the batter.|
|7.||Bake for 50 minutes.|
|8.||Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down. Remove sides of the pan, and serve. You may sprinkle confectioner’s sugar according to your taste.|