El first Sunday of October, the town of Infiesto pays homage to those hazelnuts that a few centuries ago departed for the continent piled up in boats exclusively (in the eighteenth century it was normal to see English ships arrive at the port of Gijón to load hazelnut, and the same happened in the port of Villaviciosa and Ribadesella). The Asturian production suffered a long stumble by another type of livestock specializations that happened, as well as a low price of the product. The hazel ever present was hidden in the landscape since then, without any desire for exploitation or commercialization. Only some areas like Piloña, with the Hazelnut Festival included, they try to recover the hazelnut symbol, and also the potential trade of this dried fruit, increasingly demanded in the rough and as a derivative for confectionery or liquor companies. Asturias, with decadence avellanera and everything, occupies the second national place of production after Catalonia. Account with autochthonous varieties such as: Negreta, Amandi, Quirós, Espinareda, Casina and Villaviciosa, which occupy a preferential place in the international scale of qualities.
In the current Piloña, the hazelnut has once again found just recognition in quality and is moving towards quantity by renovating its trees and growing in new plantations. The hazelnut has a future and is supported in these lands by having own brand. It also helps a lot to organize a festival that has exceeded its triségimo anniversary, which has already approached in sales to the 20 tonnes in just two days of market, and which becomes emblematic of the hazelnut Asturian over other councils that also had a great tradition in hazelnut Aller , Cornellana, Teverga, Belmonte, Grado, Quirós or Allande.
If the technical manual is pulled, Piloña's hazel horizon goes back to laying the foundations of a new birth. It is necessary rejuvenate plants, fertilize and carry out phytosanitary controls. The rejuvenation is done by pruning, suppressing the 50% of the vegetation to cause the emission of young branches, eliminating the dry branches and those that are excessively inclined. We also insist on the idea that many hazel trees present conditions that are too old and that we have to choose to replant.
And replanting hazelnuts also pays a collective illusion and a parallel gastronomy in which all of Asturias will continue to have a mirror. That is why the Hazelnut Festival raises so many expectations and so many people. The awards given in this contest also help: the prizes for the quality of the fruit, the best collectors, the youngest, the oldest, prizes for plantations and hazelnut pastries ...
To make the cake, mix the cream with the sugar and stir gently until it becomes creamy. Then add three yolks, lemon zest and cognac. Everything is mixed well.
When this is done, flour is added with the yeast and the three whites beaten to the point of snow. It mixes well and goes into the oven (150 degrees).
To make the cream, a pastry cream is made. Boil the milk with the cinnamon and lemon, separating a little milk to mix with the cornstarch. When the milk starts to boil, add the sugar and milk with the cornstarch, stirring constantly. When it is in its point, it is removed from the fire and mixed with ground hazelnuts. Let it cool.
When we have all this, we split the cake in two parts and bathe with the first syrup; then we take at least half of the cream well extended by the sponge cake; we put the other layer on it and we go back to bathe it with the syrup, spreading more cream over it. Once this is done, sprinkle with sugar and burn it with an iron. If there is a lot of cream, it will be used as an ornament.
Sponge cake ingredients
3 eggs, lemon zest, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of cream, 2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cognac and yeast.
Ingredients of cream
1 liter of milk, 4 tablespoons of cornstarch, 250 grs. of ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, 11 tablespoons of sugar, lemon and syrup (water, sugar and cognac).Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com