Friday, January 1, 2016

Walnut Tweed Cake

We all encounter both challenges and joys in our lives and this year was no different.  As hopeful humans, we commit to doing what it takes to stay positive and enjoy the gifts each day brings. Among the New Year's good luck traditions of eating greens (for the prosperity of folded money), legumes (resembling coins) and noodles (for long life) are round or ring-shaped cakes for a sweet full circle, the cycle of life.  In some cultures, the first piece is made as an offering to a saint and subsequent slices are served in order of age.  Sometimes there's a small token hidden for extra good luck to the finder.  So today I'm offering you a round cake in the hope you may enjoy a lovely year full of goodness and light and the very best of good luck in 2016.

As we turn the page into the 2016 winter season, I’m drawn to the fabulous trio of nuts, spice and chocolate.  And although I tend to go with almonds and pecans most of the time, I do love toasted walnuts in pastries and desserts.  California just happens to produce about 99% of the nation’s walnuts so they're readily available here.  Rich in plant-based omega-3, walnuts have a unique flavor all their own.  In this Walnut Tweed Cake, I combine toasted walnuts with the complimentary flavors of instant espresso powder, cardamom and chopped chocolate.  The cake is fairly light and subtle rather than rich or heavy.

When slicing into this simple rustic cake, it reminded me of the look of a warm fall tweed, just the sort of thing to ward off the chill of winter.  It has woven into its texture the comforting elements of simple and pure ingredients.  I do recommend as the winter seeps into our bones that you enjoy a nice slice with a good cup of hot coffee whenver the mood strikes for a cherished moment of life's luxury.   

Here’s wishing everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Bench notes:
-  Toasting walnuts brings out their full flavor and adds significantly to the cake.  Put the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for 10 - 15 minutes.  Cool.
- Room temperature butter is not oily or soft.  It should give just a bit when you press into the surface.
- Add the espresso powder to the milk and vanilla when the milk has warmed up to room temperature so it will more easily dissolve.
- Because there is a small amount each of flour and ground nuts, it’s important to take the time cream the butter and sugars properly on medium speed until light and fluffy; add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next (the batter is ready for the next egg when it no longer has a shiny slick on the surface); and then thoroughly combining with the flour and nut mixture to build a solid structure.  Scraping down the bowl at each juncture really makes a difference.
- Chop the chocolate and remaining walnuts into fairly small pieces (about the size of chocolate chips) so they don’t sink to the bottom.
- For another seasonal walnut cake, try Walnut Maple Cake.

Walnut Tweed Cake
Serves 8

1 cup (4 oz) toasted walnuts, divided
3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup (2 oz) milk @ room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 oz (1/3 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 oz (8 tablespoons) butter @ room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 egg yolk
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease and flour an 8” x 2” round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Place 3/4 cup (3 oz) toasted walnuts, flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the walnuts are finely ground.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the milk, vanilla and instant espresso powder and set aside.

Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup (1 oz) walnuts and chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

Cream the butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, fully incorporating each into the mixture before adding the next and stopping to thoroughly scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Slowly add the flour in three additions, alternating with the half the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until the batter is completely combined.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining 1/4 cup chopped nuts and chocolate.  Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.

Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 32 - 33 minutes.  Let the cake rest for 10 minutes. Gently run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake. Remove the parchment and invert the cake again.  Cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar.


Devon said...

Made this today for our New Year's Day dessert. The combination of flavors is delicious. Thanks for another great recipe.
Happy New Year!

pastry studio said...

Wow, Devon, wonderful that you shared this cake on New Year's Day and that you enjoyed it as much as I did. I really appreciate your feedback.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Kimbo said...

Looks delicious! Curious, where does the name "tweed cake" come from?

pastry studio said...

Kimbo, I was just struck with how the cake looked when sliced, so I went with it!

Anonymous said...

No new Friday recipe for a few weeks. I hope you're on vacation and not retiring!

pastry studio said...

Hello, Anonymous. Thanks so much for your super sweet comment.

To be honest, I'm not sure what I'm doing. After 8 1/2 years, I am taking a break. Not sure if I'll be back or if I'll do an occasional post from time to time. It's been a wonderful journey for me in so many ways and I've enjoyed all you lovely readers very, very much. A delightful and delicious exploration, to be sure!!

Anonymous said...

A break well earned. I'll still check every Friday, though!

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.


Suella said...

Hello Gayle,
Hope you are enjoying your break from blogging but are still baking! Just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your posts over the years. It has been great to try out so many of your wonderful recipes. Like Anonymous - I too will keep checking on Fridays!
Wishing you all the best.

pastry studio said...

Suella, thanks so much for your very kind remarks. You've made my day! It's been such a pleasure to share my pastries and desserts and to hear such rewarding feedback is bliss!

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Tiena said...

Friday's won't be the same without a new post from you. Even if it was a recipe I knew I'd never make, not a big ice cream fan. I still enjoyed reading the post. Some of my favorite recipes are from this blog. It's been wonderful to have a place to find interesting recipes that always work and best of all taste amazing!
Enjoy the time and I'll be checking back as well, hoping to hear what you're doing.
You've made me a better baker. Thank you.

pastry studio said...

Tiena, I can't think of a higher compliment. Thank you so much for your gracious feedback. You're exactly the kind of person I was hoping to reach over these last 8 years. You've made my day.


Unknown said...

Oh no! Your ever informative, gracious and inspirational postings will certainly be missed! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and guidance-have so enjoyed your blog. Enjoy a well-deserved break and I'll join the others in checking in from time to time.
With thanks and best wishes,

pastry studio said...

Hi, Liz! If I've contributed in some small way to the enjoyment of baking, I am grateful. It's been such a pleasure to work with natural ingredients and develop recipes that I think really encourage others to try something new. I really appreciate your kind words.

Thanks and very best to you. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your postings. I looked forward to them every Friday. Keep us posted las to what you are doing.

Miss D said...

Do you have any other seasonal light cake recipe to share?

pastry studio said...

Hello, Miss D. There are lots and lots of cake recipes in the Recipe Index here:

Hope you find one to enjoy.


pastry studio said...

Also, Miss D, here's a visual overview of all my posts if you prefer:

Valerie said...

Time to reinvent your life? It happens to all of us. Hope you still stay in the creative realm, you are an artist. I have enjoyed your work here, even though I'm now gluten free, dairy free, sigh, my body isn't what it used to be . . . Wishing you all the best in life!


pastry studio said...

Thank you so very much, Valerie. It's kind comments like yours that are so gratifying after all these years. Wishing you the best as well!

lima bean said...

Thank you so much for your incredibly thoughtfully crafted and noted recipes - I found you a few years ago and have faithfully checked back every week, trying many of your baked goods with great success. It's clearly taken me a little while to realize that you're taking what must be a well-deserved break. I will definitely miss the weekly inspiration, but in the meantime, my family will continue to devour your challah knots every time I make them. I look forward to exploring the rest of your archives and will check back faithfully, in case you decide to surprise us with a new post... Thanks again for creating such a lovely blog.

pastry studio said...

lima bean, I want to hug you! Thanks for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. I love that you love those challah knots; they are really impossible to resist! I do hope you find more delicious morsels as you browse these pages.

Very best to you.

mindy said...

gayle, I just want you to know how much I miss your posts. you always shared the loveliest recipes! and I love your cookbook. I must tell you that whenever I give someone a recipe anymore, I have totally stolen your 'bench notes' concept. it's brilliant; I always appreciate the extra help! I hope you are well, and I wish you great success. thank you for your years in the blogging world.

pastry studio said...

Mindy, oh my gosh. That is such a super lovely sweet thing to say. Thanks so much for your interest over the years and for supporting my work. It truly means a lot to me. My goal was always to be as instructive as I could to dispel any fears or reservations people might have about making pastries and desserts. So hearing feedback like yours is - well, it's icing on the cake! Very best to you.

L'Intello gourmand said...

Must try this recipe - looks delicious!

Beth Doyle said...

Just a note to say I miss your posts, I still use your website and recipes a LOT, and I hope you come back. Unless, of course, you are on to new and better adventures that make you happy, then I'll just have to keep mining your blog (please never take it down!).

Rosy said...

Looks delicious! Thanks so much for your postings.

Anonymous said...

After having checked back on many, many Fridays, it just struck me to check out the comments in the last recipe. I have followed your blog faithfully and many of my best desserts were from your posts. Most importantly, my children's beloved birthday cake comes from your pages (one that everyone always swoons over). I had asked you a troubleshooting question about the recipe years ago and you responded immediately. I'm so grateful for your beautiful words, gorgeous photos and delicious recipes. Please know how much you are appreciated. Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

pastry studio said...

Oh, WOW, that is such a kind and very generous comment! THANKS so much for taking the time to send it. I so appreciate your sweet words and I'm super gratified that you've enjoyed my recipes.

Very best wishes to you!

Armecia Lee said...

I have been reading through your blogs. I love the comments from everyone and how caring and quick to respond you are. I will continue to go through some of the delicious recipes. I almost jumped for joy when I found you had "gluten free" since I have had to adjust to that diet within this last year. Thank you for leaving this where we "new" readers can find it. Hopefully you may decide to post new recipes, but if not, I thank you greatly for having these here.

pastry studio said...

Hello, Armecia. I appreciate your kind words and I hope you find some fun gluten free pastry to enjoy! Thank you so much for stopping by. It's been a real pleasure hearing from new readers.


Receitas e Truques da Clarinha said...

Adoro bolos com frutos secos.
Que delícia.


Mary said...

Oh, how I've missed Pastry Studio. Your recipes were always the most inspiring and spot-on I've ever had the pleasure to make.

pastry studio said...

Mary, thanks so much for your very kind, very sweet words. I'm thrilled that you've found some pleasures here. I did love producing this blog for all these years. You've made my day!!