Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Walnut and nutmeg cake

The recipe for this cake has a curious method, where you rub the butter into the flour, spice and sugar and then pat half of this flour mix into the cake tin. You then mix the rest with the wet ingredients and chopped walnuts to make the rest of the cake. It means you end up with what is almost a pastry base, very thin, which gives the cake an excellent textural dimension: a crunchy, bitey, buttery, sugary bottom. The rest of the cake is soft and fluffy, a little caramelly from the brown sugar, balanced by the earthiness of the walnuts. The original recipe called for pecans but I had walnuts and I suspect this was an improvement - pecans would be sweeter but they're a little prissier, don't you think? We had this cake for morning tea and it was lovely as it was: unadorned, washed down with tea or coffee. But if you wanted to serve this for dessert (and I really think you could), then I think a thick sweetened yoghurt would be a perfect accompaniment. If you really wanted to go the whole hog and ice it, then a cream cheese or sour cream frosting (like you'd use on a carrot cake) would be the best match. The recipe suggested dusting with icing sugar. The cake is VERY nutmeggy. (I grated my own. First time. I liked it.) Una loved it, Fred not so much.

I did my "rubbing in" in the food processor so it ended up quite fine and I thought it was way too dry to stick together, but once baked the base was perfectly firm and solid, I suspect I could have done a lap of the house with it in my hands and it would have held together. I guess some of the moisture from the rest of the cake mix seeps in.

2 cups (250g/8oz) SR flour
2 tsp ground nutmeg
125g (4oz) butter
1.5 cups (345g/11oz) brown sugar
.5 tsp bicarb
1 cup (250ml/8 fl oz) milk
1 egg
.75 cup (90g/3oz) chopped walnuts (pecans, almonds...I don't see why you couldn't use any nut)

1/ Preheat oven to 180ºc (350ºF/Gas 4). Grease and line a 20m springform tin. Sift SR flour and nutmeg int a bowl (I never sift) and add the chopped butter and brown sugar. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (I did this in food processor).
2/ Place half this flour mix into the cake tin and press it down until base of tin is evenly covered. Press it down smoothly (using back of spoon or hands).
3/ Combine egg, bicarb, milk, nuts and add to the remaining flour mix. Stir till mixture is just smooth (except it won't be smooth because you have chunks of nuts in there, stupid recipe)
4/Pour this walnut mixture over the crumb base of the prepared tin and smooth surface with spatula. Back 35-40 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. (In my whizzbang fan forced oven I needed the full 40.) Set cake aside for at least 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cook.

Recipe from Family Circle Quick Mix Cakes circa 1996


  1. ooh YUM. Cutting and pasting and printing for collected recipe book...

  2. We made it with almonds and cashews in the wrong size tin and it was (is) still great. Next time, more nuts! Cos I like a bit o' texture.

  3. Sounds effing great.

  4. (That comment from Daniel was actually Zoe...has he been into my computer mucking up the settings?!)

  5. I've printed out the recipe to make this weekend.