Friday, December 11, 2009

Walnut Brandy Cake

‘Tis the season for festive cakes that showcase lots of nuts and dried fruits and spice. These are the kinds of cakes that date back to ancient times. For those who don’t care for the standard seasonal fruitcake fare, this is a nice substitute when you want something festive but not fussy or too heavy. With so many things to accomplish in the days ahead, a few simple and basic ingredients plus the addition of brandy make this a snap to put together and serve or present as a gift to your favorite host or hostess.

Bench notes:
- Toast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they are only slightly darkened and give off a toasty aroma.
- If you’re not a fan of walnuts, substitute toasted almonds, pecans or hazelnuts.

Walnut Brandy Cake

6 oz butter
1 C sugar
3 eggs @ room temperature
1/4 C milk @ room temperature
3 T brandy
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1 C coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2” loaf pan with oil and a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along the length of the pan.

Toast and coarsely chop the walnuts.

Cream butter and gradually beat in sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Combine milk, brandy and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Alternate adding a third of the flour to the butter and eggs with 1/2 milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Once all the ingredients are in, mix just a minute or so then finish the mixing by hand. Fold in walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake for about 50 – 60 minutes or until it tests done.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan and cool the cake completely. Peel off the paper and dust the top with confectioners' sugar.


VeggieGirl said...

I recently posted about a walnut bread too :) Love your brandied version!

regi said...

I'm totally going to make this next week. I have been lurking and have tried some of your less fancy recipes: oatmeal banana bread, ma'amoul, rosemary-apple galette, buttermilk pie. You rock! The sugar level is always perfect, along with all the other flavors. Also, your directions and notes are super clear and helpful.

Antonietta said...

The brandy in here makes this really festive. I imagine washing it down with some egg nog!

pastry studio said...

Veggie Girl, you have such a unique blog and such a great following. You Walnut Date Bread looks perfect!

regi, thanks so much for commenting! I do try to make pastries and desserts that do not taste of sugar. Rather, I want the other natural ingredients to shine. That's an attitude I've always had but it got strengthened when I was at Chez Panisse. I've been thinking about writing about this, actually.

Antonietta, I was actually thinking the same thing as I was tasting it and forgot to mention it in the piece. Although I love the flavor, I usually can only handle half a sip of egg nog. I'm a wimp when it comes to the real rich stuff!

Dawn said...

I love this combo. Recently made a walnut/brandy compote of sorts to serve with a brie good.

Sasha said...

Wow, this is a beautiful cake. And sounds easy enough for me to bake : )

dining furniture said...

What makes it more special is the brandy that was put in the bread! It made it more festive! And it looks easy,too.

Barbara said...

I'm loving this recipe- the brandy makes it seasonal and it is just so darn pretty! I've never cared for walnuts, but their bitterness would be perfect in this cake.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering how this would work with haelnuts and Frangelico. Only one way to find out.....

pastry studio said...

Anonymous - yes, that's the spirit! I think Frangelico is slightly sweet, but shouldn't make a big difference. Go for it!

regi said...

I made it. Used pecans and buttermilk because that's what I had. DELICIOUS!

pastry studio said...

Thanks, regi! Glad you enjoyed it.

El said...

This looks like a really lovely cake. I can't wait to try the recipe. Happy Holidays!

saturday mike said...

Made this last week and it was really lovely. Not too sweet, either. With some whipped cream spiked with more brandy, it was just about perfect. Thanks!

pastry studio said...

Thank you, saturday mike. I like your idea for the whipped cream! Would also be good with egg nog or brandy ice cream.

Leslie said...

i love brandy in desserts!