TORTA HRAPOCUSA

CAPTURED BY THE RECIPE HUNTERS IN CROATIA

Off the coast of Croatia, lies a beautiful little island, named Brač. The island of Brač is gastronomically famous for for a certain cake coveted by locals and tourists alike. The Hrapoćuša cake was created and is currently made by the women of a small mountainside village called Dol. The cake is named after the stones found along the rocky caves in the village. Each family has their own version of the cake with little twists and tricks and every year a representative woman from each family competes in the Hrapoćuša Festival for the best cake. Barbara Matulić is famous among the islanders for her version, which has "taken the cake" on many a festival. We traveled to the town of Dol in pursuit of Barbara and her recipe. Which you can follow below.

TORTA HRAPOCUSA

Now a little about the cake...The cake or "torta" is made of two separate layers. The first layer consists of an almond flour sponge cake and the second layer consists of a walnut meringue. The aroma of the cake is reminiscent of orange and lemons deriving from the citrus juice and rinds used in the recipe. This cake recipe is an absolute gem. I finished my first bite, looked at Anthony and said this is the best cake I have ever tasted...It remains to this day.

Baking Equipment needed: 

  • Large deep pan or pot (~ 12" in diameter)

  • electric handbeater or standmixer

  • food processor

  • baking sheet

  • parchment paper

  • large stove-top, non-stick boiling pot aka pasta pot

  • wooden spoon

  • juicer

Ingredients for 1st Layer of Torta Hrapocusa:

  • 3 cups (500 g) almonds

  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar 

  • 1 orange zest 

  • 1 orange juiced

  • 1 shot Maraschino liquor (or any cherry liquor)

  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

  • 12 egg yolks

  • 4 egg whites to be beaten separately

  • 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs (optional)

RECIPE

1ST LAYER OF TORTA HRAPOCUSA

  1. Preheat the oven to 250° C (480° F)

  2. Pulse almonds in a food processor until very fine. Set aside.

  3. Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, add the orange zest, the juice from the orange, one shot of maraschino liquor, the vanilla, and sugar, we will call this the "zest mix."

  4. Separate 12 eggs; Drop 12 egg yolks to the zest mix, 8 egg whites into a seperate small bowl (for 2nd layer of cake), and the 4 remaining egg whites into third separate bowl.

  5. Beat or stir the zest mix until very smooth and homogenous throughout. 

  6. Whip the 4 egg whites in the third seperate bowl on high until light and fluffy. 

  7. Slowly stir the breadcrumbs, the almonds, and the whipped egg whites into the zest mix. Stir with a wooden spoon until homogenous throughout.

  8. Place a circular parchment paper on the bottom of the pot and pour the batter in.

  9. Place the pan in the oven and after you close the oven door, reduce the temperature to 200° C (392° F). After 5 minutes lower the oven to 180° C (350° F) and after 15 minutes lower the oven to 160° C (320° F). Remain at 160° C (320° F) until the cake has turned golden brown and a toothpick comes up clean from the center of the cake. At this point, remove the cake from the oven (approx 55 minutes in total). *While the cake is baking, proceed to preparing 2nd layer of the Torta Hrapćuša.

  10. Immediately after removing the cake from oven, press down along the perimeter of the cake using the back of a wooden spoon.

Ingredients for 2nd Layer of Torta Hrapocusa:

  • 6 cups (800 g) walnuts

  • 4 cups (800 g) sugar 

  • 8 egg whites

  • .5 lemon juiced

  • 1 lemon zest

  • 1 tsp of vanilla

RECIPE

2ND LAYER OF TORTA HRAPOCUSA

  1. As the first layer bakes, add the walnuts, the sugar, and the 8 egg whites (from step 3) into a large oventop pot and stir. Turn the stovetop on to a high heat and holding the side of the pot with a dishcloth or oven mit, vigorously stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. *Use all of your muscle to ensure that the sugar does not burn and that all of the walnuts roast.

  2. Keep mixing until the sugar is fully dissolved and the egg whites take on a brown carmelized color. At this point you can shut off the stove (approx 13 min.)

  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and the vanilla extract into the walnuts and stir throughout.

COMBINING THE LAYERS:

  1. Pour the calmelized walnuts onto the the top of the cake starting from the outside perimeter to the inside. *See picture below

  2. Place the cake in the oven.

  3. Cook until the top layer of walnuts is golden and crisp (approx 15 min.)

  4. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool (about 1.5 hours)

  5. Once the cake has cooled, take a butter knife and drag it along the perimeter of the cake, separating the cake from the sides of the pot. Carefully remove from the pan. 

  6. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and freeze the cake over night

  7. To serve, let the cake thaw out of the freezer for 10 minutes and enjoy the Torta Hrapoćuša, Made with Love.

Written by The Recipe Hunters:

Leila Elamine and Anthony Morano