Due to the inclusion of a lot of nuts (and a good amount of butter) this walnut cake is rich but it has a unique flavour which will have you going back for more. Whilst it is lovely served on its own, it also makes a decadent dessert when served with a poached pear, a little salted caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
– 175g walnuts
– 185g butter
– 175g caster sugar
– 3 large eggs, separated
– 175g self-raising flour, sifted
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 75ml milk
– 12-16 walnut halves to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 160C/Fan Oven 140C/Gas Mark 2. Grease a 20cm round spring-form tin with butter and line the base with a circle of baking parchment. Set aside.
2. Place the walnuts on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Check on them a couple of times to make sure they are not burning and give them a shake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before roughly grinding in a food processor. Do not over process the walnuts as you still want them to retain some texture.
3. Meanwhile place the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat again for another couple of minutes to ensure that they are well incorporated.
4. Add the sifted flour gradually, alternating with the milk to create a thick cake batter. Fold in the roughly ground walnuts and vanilla extract making sure that they are well distributed.
5. Using a clean bowl and whisk attachments beat the egg whites to the ‘firm peak’ stage. Add one third of the egg whites to the cake batter and mix in well. This will loosen the batter slightly and make incorporating the rest of the egg whites much easier. Fold in the remaining egg whites using a large metal spoon. Stop once there are no large pockets of egg white remaining, but try to avoid over-mixing as this will result in a heavier cake.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface using the back of a metal spoon or a spatula. Decorate the top of the cake with the walnut halves and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes approximately or until a thin skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
7. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.
I’m simply someone who loves cooking and experimenting with food and different ingredients. From my early childhood spent in Zambia and Australia before returning home to Ireland I was fascinated with cookbooks and reading recipes. I would spend many hours reading my grandmother’s cookbooks and watching her preparing food in the kitchen.
Although I studied to become a graphic designer and spent a few years working in advertising before then becoming a civil servant, the one thing I always wanted to be was a food writer – sharing my enthusiasm for cooking with others, but I lacked the confidence to do the thing I wanted to do most in case I failed. I finally decided to take a risk and applied for MasterChef Ireland 2014 and was one of the three finalists.
For me, food and cooking is about family, friendship, sharing and conviviality. As a mother of three, I want my children to grow up with a love and appreciation of how lucky we are to live in a country like Ireland with such great produce and so many wonderful food producers. I continue to write and share my enthusiasm for food on my food and recipe blog The game bird Food Chronicles at http://thegamebird.blogspot.ie/