Hrapoćuša – Croatian almond and walnut cake

This cake is super high in protein, has no added fats or oils, and is naturally gluten free… but I’m afraid there’s just no getting away from the astonishing amount of sugar it has in it! Small slices, please 😉


Makes 1 x 20cm (8″) cake
Serves up to 16
Preparation: 45 minutes
Baking: 35 minutes and 15 minutes
Cooling: 90 minutes
Note: the original recipe called for a cherry liqueur but I didn’t have any – I’d seen rum in other recipes, so I used that instead


For the base layer

1/2 orange
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp rum (or cherry liqueur)
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 large egg whites
250g (2 2/3 cups) ground almonds

For the top layer

400g (3 1/2 cups) walnut halves
4 large egg whites
400g (2 cups) granulated sugar
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


For the base layer

Preheat the oven to 250°C / 480°F / Gas Mark 9 1/2, and line the base and sides of a 20cm (8″) springform cake pan with parchment.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, combine the zest and juice from 1/2 orange, the vanilla extract, rum and sugar.

Add the egg yolks and mix to combine well.

Transfer to a separate bowl and clean out the stand mixer bowl, or use a clean bowl, and beat the egg whites to firm peaks.

Add half of the egg white and half of the ground almonds to the batter, fold in to incorporate then stir gently until smooth. Add the remaining half of the egg white and half of the ground almonds, folding in and stirring gently as before.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and put it in the centre of the oven.

Immediately reduce the oven to 200°C / 390°F / Gas Mark 6 and bake according to this schedule:
• 5 minutes at 200°C / 390°F / Gas Mark 6
• 15 minutes at 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
• 15 minutes at 160°C / 320°F / Gas Mark 3

Begin checking the cake about 5 minutes after lowering the temperature to 160°C / 320°F / Gas Mark 3 (or 25 minutes after beginning to bake). When a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven.

For the top layer

While the bottom cake is baking, place the walnuts, egg whites and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and stir for about 10 minutes, making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t scorch. Stop when the liquid takes on a beige colour. Don’t cook it too long, or it will pass “pourable” and move to “crumbly”.

Add the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon and the vanilla extract to the walnut mixture.

Pour the walnut mixture over the warm base layer and smooth the top with the back of a wooden spoon.

Place the cake back in the oven (should still be at 160°C / 320°F / Gas Mark 3) and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the top is golden.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 90 minutes in the pan. Remove from pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.

Keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature for a week, or may be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to three months.

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3 Responses to Hrapoćuša – Croatian almond and walnut cake

  1. Anne Wallace says:

    Hello there,
    This does sound intriguing.

    Do you think it will not be possible to reduce the top layer sugar amount successfully?

    Meringue calls for 4 Tablespoons (can reduce to 2 T but 3 T safer) of sugar per egg white.

    The top layer calls for quite a bit more than that. I am not fond of overly sweet desserts and was wondering if following the 4 T per egg white as you do for meringue for top base might work?


    • pizzarossa says:

      Hi Anne,
      I’m not sure whether it would work to reduce it (I just made it from the original recipe and didn’t play around with it at all) because you’re making more of a caramel than a meringue… might be worth a try. I must say, though, that with the strong lemon and orange notes it’s not actually as sweet as you might imagine.

  2. Leila says:

    Hi Pizza Rossa,

    Thank you so much for adapting Barbara’s family recipe!! If you are interested in the back story of the cake and the original recipe, you can check out our website: where Jason got it from!


    The Recipe Hunters

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