Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Coffee and Walnut cake

Busy making cakes for my brother-in-law's big birthday bash this weekend.  His favourite is coffee and walnut, so got to test that.  Found a great looking recipe from Italy, but thought probably safer to go with Delia Smith's basic coffee and walnut sponge.

To make this I had to grind some lentils for the first time in this flat.  Wondering why I bought my cornmeal in a 5kg bag last time.  Was I expecting a great rush on cakes?  Maybe it was so I could take flour to the teaching I am scheduled to do at the Yorkshire Wold Cookery School next month, since my flour is still not available via Shipton Mill in the stores.  A 5kg bag seem immense when it has to be lifted down from a high shelf.

So, Delia suggests the usual matching weights of flour, sugar, fat, eggs, and baking powder, instant coffee, water and finely chopped walnuts.

My recipe is (for a smallish test cake in a 9inch square pan, all that has made it out of storage so far)

110g flour (40%urid, 40%tapioca, 20%cornmeal)
1.5tsp baking powder
110g caster sugar
110g soft butter/soft margarine-
3 small eggs (Delia said 2 large, but my organic eggs come in mixed sizes and there was only one large egg)
50g finely chopped walnuts
1 tbs instant coffee - I use the excellent Kenco Millicano wholebean instant
1 dessertspoon hot water to mix

Cream fat and sugar till light and fluffy.  Mix in beaten eggs a little at a time.  Mix flour and baking powder well; add to batter mixture.  Add walnuts and coffee.

Spoon into a prepared cake tin, bake at 170C for about 30 minutes.

Cool on a baking rack, ice as wanted.  I used a simple butter cream ( 75g butter, 150g icing sugar) whipped together until fluffy, and added some very strong coffee until I thought the flavour was good.  I also added a few drops of vanilla.

This cake is sweeter than my taste.  Delia suggests making a mouselline icing, which would be less sweet ( sugar syrup and egg yolk) but I don't want to try a new icing type at this stage as I need the cake for Saturday, and the cake has to travel for several hours.  There isn't anyone else around to give an opinion at the moment. I prefer it without the icing, where it leaves a warmly coffee flavoured cake with a bit of crunch from the walnuts.

The Italian recipe 'Torta Rustica di Moci al Caffe', from my ancient 'The Good Cook Cakes and Pastries' is:

10-15cl strong coffee
200g shelled walnuts, very finely chopped
100g butter, softened
300g castor sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
200g flour, sieved with 1 tbsp (yes, tablespoon) of baking powder

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, add flour alternatively with coffee, add nuts, bake for about1 hour at 180C. Makes one 20cm/8inch cake.

Anyone trying this second recipe let me know what it is like.  It seems to me that it would be a denser more walnutty flavoured cake, with some of the characteristics of a cake made with almond flour - moist, keeps well.

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