Sunday, April 13, 2014

Black Walnut Madeira Cake

As most of us know, when dealing with a strongly flavored ingredient, there has to be another ingredient which mellows that flavor.  We all have choked at one time or another, when someone prepares something in which the flavor is overpowering.  My situation involved cilantro and I had a friend that stated hers was banana.  However, when reviewing strong flavors, black walnuts fall into that category.  The perfect offset for that slightly bitter taste of black walnuts would be something sweet.  In this particular recipe, Madeira wine is included in the batter and the cake is topped with an extra sweet icing and a sprinkling of more nuts.  They both play an important part in creating a good balance of flavors.

Black Walnut Madeira Cake
adapted from My Great Recipes

Ingredients/ Loaf Cake
1/2 cup chopped black walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Madeira wine
3 egg whites
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar 
1 1/2 cups flour

Ingredients/ Frosting
2 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs milk
chopped walnuts for sprinkling top

Prepare the 9X5 inch loaf pan by greasing the interior.   Also, line bottom and 2 sides (with excess overhang) with parchment paper.  Grease the surface of the parchment paper touching the sides and bottom.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a bowl with butter and both sugars and beat on high speed for one minute.  Set aside.  Sift together the flour, cream of tartar and baking soda.  Fold 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.  Pour in the milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the next 1/3 of the sifted ingredients and then mix in the Madeira wine.  Lastly, fold in the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside.

In another bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until it reaches the stiff peak stage.  Gently fold the egg whites into the prepared batter until evenly distributed.  Then mix in the walnut pieces.   Bake cake in oven for about 45-50 minutes or until tester indicates done. Cool 10 minutes in pan then run a knife between the cake and the pan on the sides without parchment.  Lift cake out of pan with excess overhang of parchment and place on rack to completely cool.

For the frosting, beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed with an electric mixer.  Then add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk, stirring to combine.  Once the frosting has the desired consistency, spread on the top surface of the cake.  Then sprinkle with walnut pieces, if desired.

Tips and Notes:
1.  Both the wine and the nuts are the stand out flavors in this recipe.  You can use Marsala and regular walnuts, but the flavor will not be the same.
2. Since the frosting is made with brown sugar, it does need some time to set.  As it sets, the texture will not be as gritty like the newly made frosting.  Be aware that it is very sweet, but the sprinkling of the nuts tones that down.
                                       **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Chunk Cream Cake**