Cake, Food

Walnut Cake with Raspberries

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Gateau Aux Noix–this rich an delicious cake comes from Julia Child’s ” Mastering the Art of French Cooking”–Volume II (if you have the book, it is page 490 in the 39th edition) !!  I had  previously made another one of Julia’s Walnut cakes called Le Brantome which is a fluffier cousin of this recipe.  Having make both cakes, I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.  However, the richness of this particular cake, makes it more suitable for layering.

The recipe make one 9 by 1.5 inch cake.  I wanted two layers, so I doubled the recipe.  Here is what I did:

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped walnuts

6 Tbsp of sugar, plus another 1 cup of sugar

2/3 cup all -purpose flour

6 large eggs

8 Tbsp of butter

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans.

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Grind 2 cups of walnuts with 6 Tbsp of sugar in a food processor.  You might want to do this in batches, depending on the size of your processor.  It is also important to add sugar with each batch of walnuts, it prevents the oils in the nuts to turn it into “butter” while grinding.

Mix the nut mixture with 2 cups of flour and pass the entire mixture through a sieve–this will separate out the larger chunks of nuts and allow for even incorporation of the the flour and nut mixture.

Next, cream butter, the remaining 1 cup of sugar till pale and creamy.  Then add the eggs and mix well.

Finally, slowly fold in the nut and flour mixture in batches, ensuring that each batch of the dry ingredients is well incorporated before the next batch is added.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.

Bake for 20 mins.

The cake is perfectly wonderful with just a dusting of sugar.  However, I used the two layers to turn it into a layered birthday cake.  Let me know walk you through the assembly.

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Assembling the cake–you will need:

Fresh Raspberries (filling and decoration)

Chocolate drizzle ( for decoration, I bought it !)

Walnuts ( whole and ground for decoration)

Crushed, freeze dried raspberries (for decoration)

1 batch of my Marscapone Whipped Cream Frosting

Note: For this cake, had about 4 cups of frosting leftover from the  Spice Cake that I made a few weeks ago.  I froze down the frosting, however when thawing, the frosting becomes loose and runny (bottom image on the left).  To fix it, add another 8oz of marscapone and 2-3 Tbsp of sugar–depending on how sweet you want it.

Assembling the cake is pretty easy.  I added a layers of frosting on the bottom cake, topped the frosting with raspberries and then pressed down the top cake layer.

Next I added a crumb coat to fill in all the holes and press down the crumbs.  Chill this for at least 10-15 mins.

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Next, I added the rest of the frosting, as patiently as I could to ensure a smooth surface and edges.

Finally, I decorated the cake according to the design I drew out, you can check that out here

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This time, I remembered to take a picture of the cake once we cut into it !

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Salad, Sides

Pear, Fennel,walnut, cranberry salad

Roasted fruits and nuts tossed with peppery arugula and fresh baby spinach makes for a decadent an elegant salad fit for guests and a humble lunch box ! My salad for my Autumn Brunch.

Ingredients:

8 Bartlett pears, diced

1 whole fennel bulb chopped

12 oz dried cranberries

8 oz of walnuts

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

8 oz baby spinach

8 oz arugula

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Toss butter, sugar with fruits and nuts and roast till tender and brown.

Toss with salad greens and balsamic vinegar and serve warm !

 

Cupcakes

Le Brantome

When I was five, I just so happened to have two Birthday parties.  Well, the second one was more like using my birthday as an excuse for the grown-ups to have another party.  Needless to say the cake was a quite grown-up too.  I remember this beautiful sheet cake coming out of the box decorated with soft pink sugar roses. And the cake, was light and fluffy yet it tasted so rich and decadent.  It was a walnut cake and that was the last time I had tasted something like that.  Till last fall.  I was watching old “The French Chef” re-runs on PBS when Julia Child whipped up Le Brantome, a walnut cake for a “very important person” (my guess would be that it was Paul Child).  The cake did not have a buttercream filling or sugar roses but looked and sounded just like that birthday cake.  I had to make it.  And, so I did–with a modern twist–cupcakes ! And my VIP — my dear friend Eilish.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla and a pinch of salt

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup ground walnuts

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, lightly whipped over ice water

1.Preheat the oven to 350 and fill a cupcake pan with lines.  This batter with yield 24 cupcakes.

2.whip the cream over ice and set it aside.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar together until they are thick, creamy and light yellow – about 5 minutes.  Then add the vanilla and salt.

4.Sift the flour and baking powder into the eggs in parts, alternating with the walnuts and cream.  Fold in a third of the flour, then a third of the walnuts, then a third of the cream, then another third of the flour and so on until it’s all folded together.  This is a beautiful creamy looking batter.

5. I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter into the cupcake pan.

6. Bake on the middle rack for 25minutes.

7.  Let the cupcakes cool completely before you frost them.  I cheated and used store bought buttercream frosting.

You will need about two cans to frost 24 cupcakes.

To see Julia in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQcwjETtCT8