Saturday, October 3, 2009

Coffee and Walnut Cake for a rainy afternoon

It's a delightful rainy Autumn afternoon here in Maine, I am sitting by the wood stove (or should I say woodBURNING stove, a wood stove wouldn't be much use would it??) crackling and crinkling away burning the vast mounds of wood I loaded the other day which have made my arms look like Popeye after 100lbs of spinach consumption...but I digress, the puppies and kitten are strewn about in various degrees of mumbling, purring ecstasy by the stove. Wouldn't a coffee walnut cake be just the ticket for a day like today, the wind is howling, the leaves flurrying by...just the kind of cake my Mum would buy on a day like today. The kind of cake you would see at a Jumble Sale at the church or a bake sale for the Women's Institute Here is my recipe which is basically a nice dense pound cake with walnuts and coffee buttercream.

Recipe adapted from "Glorious Gifts from your Kitchen" by Lisa Yockelson
Brits love to call cakes GATEAUX because it makes them seem more elegant!!

INGREDIENTS: I cut the recipe in half or the cake would have weighed more than me and whilst I could easily have polished it off on my own I decided to err on the side of sanity...for once!!
As for all cake recipes the ingredients should be at room temperature
9 oz/2 cups sifted white flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons finely ground strong coffee...I like French Roast

1 cup / 8ozs salted butter ( you know me I always use salted for baking)

7oz/1 cup white sugar

4 large eggs, seperated

1 tablespoon vanilla extract/essence

pinch of cream of tartar

1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (I use a coffee grinder for this with some of the confectioners/icing sugar in there too to help stop the nuts becoming oily...DON'T use the regular sugar for this as it messes up the blade of the grinder and leaves a metallic taste to the sugar...I have done this and that's how I know!!) plus 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1. Lightly butter and flour a 6" diameter pan...I used a narrow but tall pan...3" could probably get away with 2 8-9" shallower pans and do it in two layers...I am a very guesstimating person in this regard...sorry!!

2. Resift the flour with baking powder and set aside

3. Cream the butter on it's own 'til light and then add sugar gradually beating between additions.

4. I have found the trick to not letting the next stage go down the curdling road is to whisk the egg yolks together and then add them bit by bit into the creamed butter and sugar, beating well between each addition, until they all in there and as happy as Larry.

5. Add the sifted flour in 3 additions, folding gently but thoroughly between additions until all incorporated.

6. In a clean bowl and with a spotless whisk beat the egg whites to frothy, add the pinch of cream of tartar, then continue to beat to firm but not stiff...good luck with differentiating that....other people say glossy but not dry...I whisk until they are glossy and when you lift out the whisk the tip falls very gently back upon itself....the French say it should look like a bird's beak, good luck with that too, how many bird's beaks have you seen up close recently!!

7. Gently fold about 4 tablespoons of the whites in to the mixture to lighten it, then proceed to add the rest of the whites again folding very gently not to pop any of those adorable bubbles you have spent all your energies on achieving.

8. Gently fold n the ground walnuts and the chopped walnuts...very gently...

9. Scrape this divine mixture into your pan (leaving enough to satisfy your raw cake batter needs) and bake in a 300F oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes...mine took longer because I have a dilapidated oven and an insane oven thermometer...also your timing would be less if you use two pans instead of one...just keep checking for doneness with a clean bamboo skewer or toothpick...gently insert into the middle of the cake and when it comes out clean the cake is done. If you check more then once or twice do open the oven very cautiously so the cake doesn't fall from the sudden influx of cold air.

10. Allow your cake to cool completely before you put the buttercream icing on...

I am a boring person when it comes to buttercream....I like it made from salty butter, always Kate's lately...very good flavour and it is made with sea salt...along with confectioners/icing sugar and a flavouring, that's it....boring boring boring but DELICIOUS and really the main reason I make and eat cakes...what would a cake be without buttercream...what would lobster be without butter...come on really!!! SO...

6ozs softened butter

at least 6 ozs/ 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners/icing sugar...I just go to taste

2 tablespoons finely ground strong coffee with 1 tablespoon hot water mixed in to bring out the flavour

1. Cream the butter and gradually add in the desired amount of icing sugar

2. Cream in the cooled coffee slurry

3. Slather on your cake in the desired manner...cut, slice, make a boiling mad hot cup of really strong coffee (surprisingly I prefer coffee with this cake to my usual tea) and get down to business.....................

I have found cakes like this improve greatly with 2 or even 3 days maturing in a cake tin...but heck who can keep it around that long? Anyways, it was much better the second day..I also like to put it in the fridge for a bit before I eat it so the buttercream has some tooth to it and isn't too soft...but that's just me.

Harry has decided to help me choose some recipes for my Christmas postings...good old Harry!!

Happy Baking!

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