Iced English Walnut Cake
You can obviously make this with ready-shelled walnuts, but in the late autumn when English walnuts are about, if you sit down with music or a good radio programme and shell some new season’s walnuts yourself, you will appreciate the purest flavour of walnuts that permeates this cake.
This recipe is from Delia's Cakes.
First sift the flour and baking powder into a roomy mixing bowl, lifting the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down.
Then add the butter, eggs and caster sugar and, using an electric whisk, mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about one minute. Next lightly fold in the finely chopped walnuts. Then divide the mixture between the two prepared tins, level off using the back of a tablespoon, and bake near the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes. The cakes are cooked when you press lightly with your little finger and the centre springs back. Remove them from the oven and after about 30 seconds loosen the edges by sliding a palette knife all round then turn them out onto a wire cooling tray. Now carefully peel back the lining by gently pulling it back. Lightly place the other cooling tray on top and just flip them both over so that the tops are facing upwards (this is to prevent them sticking to the cooling tray).
To make the icing, place the egg whites and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, and gradually add the icing sugar (a heaped tablespoon at a time), beating well after each addition with a wooden spoon until the icing is a smooth, soft, spreadable consistency (it should be just firm enough to stay in place). What you can do to check the consistency is to spread a little on the inside of the bowl to see if it’s OK. You can watch how to whisk egg whites in our Cookery School Video on the right. Don’t worry if you have some icing sugar left over (if your whites are very large, you may need a bit more icing sugar).
Now, when the sponges are absolutely cold, carefully cut each one into two horizontally using a sharp serrated knife. I find it’s better to sit down to do this, so you don’t have to bend so much to see what you are doing! After that, keep the nicest-looking cake for the top, and spread each of the other layers with a rounded tablespoon of the icing. Then sprinkle each layer with one third of the chopped walnuts.
Now sandwich the cakes together and place them on a cooling rack. Use a pastry brush to brush away any loose crumbs, then place the rack over a large plate. Now spoon three quarters of the icing on top of the cake, and use a palette knife to spread the icing over the top and down the sides of the cake. Use the remaining icing to patch up any exposed bits of cake. Finally wipe the palette knife and dip it into a jug of warm water, and use it to go over the icing to give a smooth neat finish. Watch our Cookery School Video on Layering and Icing on the right.
After that, decorate with the walnut halves in a circle over the top. Store the cake in a cake box or tin till needed
Pre-heat the oven to 170C, gas mark 3
You will need two Delia Online 18cm by 4cm Sponge Tins (or similar), lightly buttered and bases lined, plus two wire cooling trays.