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Although Brač island is famous for its “white stone”, known as Brački Kamen, there is that one village that was built with a totally different type of stone. It was built with hrapaćuša/hrapoćuša stone. It looks very coarse even somehow awkward, and it was used for making houses, building drywalls and almost everything else that needed to be built. That place is Dol, which is hidden in the middle of Brač Island.
In honor of this life-giving stone, the ladies of Dol developed a cake that shares the same name and a lot of similarities in its appearance.
When we come to look for a recipe for hrapoćuša, it’s here we find a big problem – every house has their own secret way of making it. And, every woman jealously guards her recipe and those secret are passed to the younger generations by means of oral tradition so it’s almost even impossible to find two identical recipes for this dessert.
Different amounts of eggs are often the main difference, also some add walnuts in the biscuit, some add almonds…
Basically this is a cake with two separate, very distinct layers. The bottom is a dense sponge made up of all the egg yolks, some of the whites, flour, and nuts.
Then, the top layer is walnuts, sugar and the majority of the egg whites. When merged together you’ll get a delicious dessert that is called Brač’s ‘sweet aphrodisiac’.
This cake is listed by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture as protected intangible heritage so it should be no surprise that an event is held that represents this cake. The event is called “Hrapoćuša Night” and it has taken place since 2010. Held each year on August, 16, as part of the Feast of St. Roch. This event should not be missed when planning summer events on the island of Brač.
For The Biscuit
- 12 egg yolks
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons water, cold
- 150g white sugar (3/4 cup)
- 60g almonds ground (2.1 oz)
- 60g all-purpose flour (0.5 cup)
- 1 tsp. vanilla sugar (or vanilla essence)
- 1 lemon zest
For The Topping
- 8 egg whites
- 500g white sugar (2.5 cups)
- 600g walnuts (6 cups)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- In a medium-sized bowl separate the 8 eggs yolks, add 4 whole eggs, sugar, and vanilla sugar. Mix it with an electric mixer, until it’s light and airy
- Add water, flour, baking powder, almonds, and lemon zest and mix once again so everything is well blended. (I chose to blanch and grind my own almonds for extra flavor)
- Pour the batter into the greased springform tin (size 23cm) and bake it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes on 180° Celcius
- While the batter is baking we will prepare the topping. Mix the egg whites with the electric mixer into a foamy consistency but not too firm. With a wooden spoon, fold in the walnuts and sugar and mix well
- Put the mixture into a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly so it does not stick or burn. It will take around 10 minutes to become thick, sticky and golden brown
- Pour in the lemon juice and keep stirring for a further 6-7 minutes. When you add the lemon juice and stir it in, you will see that the mixture becomes brighter in color. After those 6-7 minutes, it will become golden brown again – at this point turn off the heat and set aside
- When the bottom layer of the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 150° Celcius
- Using a spoon add the walnut mixture over the cake that just came out of the oven (leave it in the tin), starting from the edges and moving toward the middle of the cake, spread the mix it evenly, gently pressing the walnuts down
- Put the tin back into the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes until the top is light brown
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before removing and slicing. It is best is to leave the cake overnight
The cake will last up to seven days, (I don’t believe this has ever happened) if stored in a cool, dry place like the pantry, but not in the fridge.