I have a passion for walnut cakes. Not the ordinary ones, but the flourless, moist kind that taste overwhelming of walnuts and if they have a splash of rum, even better.
I grew up eating walnut cake when I would go on holiday every summer to the former Yugoslavia with my sisters and brother to stay with my mum’s family. It didn’t matter if we were with our cousins in Zagreb, my grandfather on the Croatian coast or with my aunt in Montenegro there was always a little cake shop where you could buy a single slice of the most beautiful cakes.
These were resplendent cakes made from layers and layers of thin sponge, interspersed with cream fillings and covered in a delicate chocolate glaze - a culinary leftover from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We would buy these seriously tall slices of cake, which would wobble crazily on their dainty little plates as we carried them carefully to our table and eat as best as we could with tiny pastry forks.
I am incapable of creating a nine layer confection (these special cakes are my treat when visiting my mum’s family) and instead I’ve spent years searching for and then adapting the perfect walnut cake recipe for me.
This is a fast, easy recipe that will always work. It’s meant to be moist and gooey in the middle so you can’t under cook it.
An added bonus: walnuts are an amazing source of Omega 3 – this is one of the essential fatty acids that your child needs to grow, particularly for their brain which doesn't stop growing until they are 8 years old. The brain is 60% fat all derived from essential fatty acids.
Miraculous ingredients: walnuts, Burford Brown eggs, dark rum, cinnamon
4 medium eggs, separated into yolk and white (Burford Browns)
250g golden caster sugar
the zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of dark rum
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Grease a 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin with a little butter and line the base with baking parchment.
Grind the walnuts. You can put them in a food processor and whizz until they are finely ground. I have a little gadget that manually grinds nuts which I love, it’s plastic and cheap but does the job so well.
Place the 4 egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and rum in a large bowl and whisk with an electric or hand whisk until the mixture becomes thick, creamy and pale. Mix in the walnuts and cinnamon. The mixture will become very thick at this point.
Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Using a metal spoon, lightly fold 2 tablespoons of the egg white into the walnut mix to loosen it. Gently fold in the remaining egg white, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is combined.
Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
When cool, remove from the tin and lightly dust with icing sugar.
Preparation time 20 minutes, baking time 1 hour, serves 8