I’m Jason and blog at Daily Candor. I’ve been participating in Daring Kitchen challenges since January 2011, and have hosted a challenge before (Armenian nazouk and nutmeg cake). I’m happy to host a second time, this time featuring a peculiar-looking and peculiarly named hrapocuša (hrah-PO-choo-sha) cake (or Dolska torta, or “Dol cake”). Created by the villagers of the tiny town of Dol on the Dalmatian island of Brač.
The cake is named for the rugged stones from the nearby caves, and is known locally to be a bit of an aphrodisiac (!). The cake has won considerable acclaim within Croatia, and every year the town of Dol hosts the annual Night of Hrapocuša competition which draws over a thousand attendees, some ten times as many people as the resident population of the village.
The cake is very different from other cakes in terms of both texture and flavor. The bottom layer is a fragrant almond-based sponge with orange-vanilla notes, while the top is a lemon-scented fragile brittle made of walnuts. It is extremely rich, and even those of us with a major sweet tooth can handle only a thin slice or two. Fortunately, it keeps at room temperature for a good week, and for several months if frozen immediately after making.
Note that the recipe as provided below is gluten-free for those looking to minimize/eliminate gluten from their diet.
I drew from several recipes to create the version I prepared. The primary was Barbara Matuli
’s captured by The Recipe Hunters (cool backstory here). I also incorporated advice/techniques from a couple of recipes in Croatian: Coolinarika’s and HRT’s.
You can find the challenge PDF here
The bottom layer I made was a genoise made of almond meal only, so it is a bit more dense than fluffy. There are plenty of recipes out there that involve a more traditional cake recipe, using wheat flour and leavening, if you’re interested in a fluffier bottom cake layer.
Approx 2 ½ hours.
Mixer (either standing or handheld)
1-2 large bowls
3-5 smaller bowls (or feel free to clean and reuse a smaller quantity)
8″ or 12″ / 20 or 30cm springform pan
Servings: Makes 12-16 slices
For 8” / 20cm springform pan (if using 12” / 30cm pan, double the ingredients)
250g / 9oz / 1 3/4 cups whole almonds (roasted or raw, depending on preference)
400g / 14oz / 3 1/2 cups walnuts (halves and pieces)
600g / 1 1/3lb / 3 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ Tbsp kirsch, maraschino or other cherry-flavored liquor
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 480°F / 249°C / Gas Mark 9 1/2.
2. Pulse the almonds in a food processor to yield a meal.
3. Add to your standing mixer bowl (or another large bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer) the following: the zest and juice from ½ orange, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 ½ tbsp of cherry-flavored liquor and 200g / 1 cup of the sugar. Mix gently until homogeneous.
4. 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 3 with the yolks until it yields a uniform batter. Pour into another bowl if using a standing mixer.
5. Clean out your standing mixer bowl (or get a new, clean bowl if using a handheld mixer) and place the 2 egg whites from step 4 in the bowl. Beat until you have somewhat stiff peaks.
6. 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.
7. Place a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of the springform pan. Pour the resulting cake batter into the springform pan on top of the parchment paper.
8. Bake according to this schedule (move to step 9 after placing in the oven):
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.
Note that a larger cake (in a 12″ / 30cm pan) will likely take longer to bake sufficiently.
9. 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.
10. Add the zest and juice of ½ lemon and the remaining ½ tsp of vanilla extract to the walnut-caramel mixture. Stir to spread uniformly throughout the mixture.
11. Pour the resulting walnut mixture over the bottom layer of the cake. Make the top even with the back of the wooden spoon.
12. Place the cake back in the oven (should still be at 320°F / 160°C / Gas Mark 3) and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the top takes on a golden color.
13. Allow to cool for 90 minutes. Then gently remove from springform pan, peel off the parchment paper, and present!
Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
The finished cake can be stored at room temperature for 5-6 days. If you must store it for longer, cover the completely-cool cake in plastic wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months. To consume, simply allow a slice to thaw at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with. Thank you!