Did you know that today is Nutting Day? It’s also my dear sister-in-law’s birthday so it must be a lucky day!

Actually no one really knows when Nutting Day is. According to the Celtic, British, and American calendars, Nutting Day falls anytime between Sept 14 and Sept 21 (between the Fall Ember Days and the Autumn Equinox).

So what exactly is Nutting Day and why does it deserve a cake? Nutting Day is the day that hazelnuts are harvested. I am not kidding. According to Celtic tradition and poetry, the Hazel Tree is the tree found in the underworld as well as the tree at the World’s End. According to these Celtic stories, nine Hazel trees protect and cover the sacred Well of Wisdom. As the nuts mature, they drop into the water where the nuts are eaten by the magical Salmon of Wisdom. (stories about the Salmon of Wisdom are found in the Fenian Cycle of Poetry)

Apparently those who eat hazelnuts or the Salmon of Wisdom, will be able to tell the future and speak prophecies. Many of these tales, especially those about Fionn Mac Cumhaill, speak of a strong hero who battles his way to the World’s End in order to grab a nut before it falls into the well and the Salmon’s mouth.

According to these ancient poems, you can find the rare Hazel trees hidden within apple orchards that are surrounded by Hawthorn trees. When you find these three trees together, you know you are near the borders of the world where magical things are supposed to occur. The Hazel Tree’s etymology is Coll, Colyrus, C. Coll or C is the ninth letter in the Ogham (Ancient Celtic) alphabet and represents the ninth month of the year–September. At one time it was considered such a serious crime to cut down a Hazel tree that the punishment was death.

In the Greek and Roman myths, the Hazel tree is associated with Hermes and Mercury, both of whom who represent intelligence and wisdom. Hermes’ wooden staff was made of Hazel wood, and it’s recently been suggested by historians that ancient Druid priests preferred Hazel staffs over traditional oaks. For centuries, Hazel staffs were seen as sign of authority and wisdom. The Old English word for Hazel was “haesl” which means “baton of authority” and landowners would hold their baton while they heard the grievances of their serfs.

As centuries passed in Britain, the Hazel tree became associated with love and fertility. Hazelnuts became such a symbol of love and fertility that brides would be “showered” with hazelnuts which were then gathered up and eaten. Up until WWII, some even believed that if a new couples’ Hazel tree offered a lot of hazel catkins (the tree’s male flowers), the couple would have large family.

So because of all of that history behind the Hazel tree, the simple hazelnut gets it’s own day. And what better way to celebrate than with an Apple Hazelnut Cake!

Apple Hazelnut Cake

This hazelnut apple cake recipe has been adapted from one my 4-H leader used to make during our fall festivals. It's loaded with shredded apples and ground hazelnuts and is served with a warm toffee sauce. Although no one would complain if you added vanilla ice cream and lightly-sweetened whipped cream.

Course Dessert
Keyword Apple Cake, Hazelnuts
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Resting time 25 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 500 kcal



  • 1 cup salted butter room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded Granny Smith or Macoun apples about 3-4 apples


  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground hazelnuts

Toffee Sauce

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a round 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set the round pan on on a baking sheet, also lined with parchment paper, and set aside.

  2. In a large electric mixing bowl, cream the room temperature butter along with the brown sugar. When the mixture is smooth, add the eggs, one at a taime. Blend the eggs until well mixed, but do not over beat.

  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg. Once the dry ingredients are blended, slowly add the dry mixture to the butter/egg batter. Combine well without overbeating. With a spoon, fold in the shredded apples.

  4. Pour batter in the prepared pan. Top with the brown sugar and ground hazelnuts, making sure it's evenly distributed. Keeping the pan on the baking sheet, place the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 65-80 minutes. Watch for the cake to turn a gold color and for the sides to begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. It's done when a toothpick pushed into the center of the cake comes out clean. (time differential is determined by the amount of moisture in the apples)

  5. Remove from oven and set the baking sheet, with the pan, on a baking rack to rest for 5 minutes.

  6. After five minutes, run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the outer ring. Let cool for another 10-20 minutes for the cake to set.

Toffee Sauce

  1. For the toffee sauce, set up a double boiler. Over medium heat, melt the brown sugar and butter and whipping cream. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and well blended. Stir in vanilla and remove from heat. Serve immediately over the cake. The cake can be either warm or room temperature. But make sure you let the cake rest before you cut it or else it will crumble. The sauce will also keep in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave when needed.

Recipe Notes

To grind hazelnuts, first toast the nuts on a lined baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes–but watch them so they don’t burn!)While warm, place the nuts in a dish towel and rub the nuts together to remove the skin. Place the skinned nuts into a nut grinder or a food processor and pulse/chop the nuts until they resemble a very coarse corn meal. Do not over process as the nuts will turn into flour.

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