I’ve steered clear of walnuts since age 12ish, when I got a nasty headache after eating a handful. Imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for Walnut Cake in a recent Bon Appetit magazine that I had to make. Something in the way the article was written, along with the simplicity of the cake itself, intrigued me enough that I clipped the recipe and put it on my “to-make” list.Very odd, as the cake contains copious amounts (7 cups!) of coarsely ground walnuts.
This past weekend gave me a chance to make the cake as I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand (save the vanilla bean–used 1 tablespoon vanilla extract instead) and we had dinner guests who were bringing fresh-picked raspberries. The berries seemed a perfect topping for this nutty cake.
The recipe mentions that the cake is best served cold, but I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to make the cake in time to chill it. It was amazing warm, but refrigerating it and having it cold the next day confirmed the recipe’s promise that it was indeed excellent when chilled. The texture was a bit crumbly, but the chew was firm with just a bit of spring. The rich flavor of the nuts (along with the cup of butter, 3/4 cup cream, and SIX eggs) put it in the category of Desserts That Make You Swoon. The relatively small amount of sugar (3/4 cup) and 1/2 cup yogurt (homemade thanks to Make the Bread, Buy the Butter) kept the sweetness down and let the walnut and almond flavors shine through.
It perplexes me that one of the few foods I don’t enjoy is the foundation of this amazing and phenomenal cake. It didn’t scream “walnut!” but there was a dense nuttiness that held my attention and made me want more. A small amount of whipped cream would make a nice topping and the fresh berries were fantastic served alongside, but the cake itself needs no embellishment. I’ve never met a cake that didn’t taste better with frosting (preferably buttercream), but this one is a rock star and it won me over. Over the top for sure.