Showing posts with label walnuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label walnuts. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nordic Walnut Cake with Coffee Icing #FoodieExtravaganza

Nordic Walnut Cake is loaded with finely chopped walnuts that, along with the butter, give it a lovely richness. It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. 

So what’s Nordic about this Nordic Walnut Cake? Our Foodie Extravaganza host, Laura of Baking in Pyjamas set us a theme of Midsummer Eve Desserts this month, which made me think of the northern European celebrations around the time of the summer solstice. A quick search revealed many traditional recipes from countries that celebrate, including Sweden and the like.

I decided on this walnut cake from a website called Nordic Recipe Archive for two reasons. First, the method of making the batter by mixing the other ingredients and then folding in the stiffly beaten egg whites intrigued me. I wondered if a batter filled with chopped walnuts could be lightened. I've baked with ground nuts before and the result is always a dense, rich cake. Secondly, that coffee icing! I am a sucker for all things coffee. I’m not much of a sweet eater, but add coffee and I’ll give your cake a chance.

This cake did not disappoint on either promise. While still rich, the walnut cake is much lighter than my other bakes with ground nuts. And I could have eaten that very simple coffee icing with a spoon!

For the cake:
2/3 cup or 150g butter plus more for greasing the pan
2/3 cup 132g sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
3 1/2 oz or 100g shelled walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 83g flour plus more for coating the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the coffee icing:
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup or 95g icing sugar

For garnish:
2 1/2 oz or 70g walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your loaf pan by buttering it and then coating with lightly with flour.

Use a food processor to finely chop the walnuts for the cake batter.

Melt the butter and the sugar in a small pot over a low heat. Gently bring the mixture to the boil and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring continually. Do not let it brown or burn. At first the butter doesn't seem to want to mix in but just keep stirring. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. We are going to be mixing the egg yolks in and you don't want them to cook upon contact.

Use hand held beaters or your stand mixer to beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

Whisk the egg yolks and the vanilla extract in the sugar-butter mixture.

Mix in the finely chopped nuts.

Then the flour mixed with the salt and baking powder.

Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the batter a dollop at a time.

Pour the mixture into your prepared loaf pan.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the cake is nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove it to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing:
Melt the butter, milk and instant coffee in a small saucepan over a low heat. Mix in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

Whisk until smooth.

Pour the icing over the cake on a serving plate. Top with the chopped walnuts while the icing is still soft. They set and stick as it hardens.


Many thanks to Laura for this challenge. I’ve got to say that I have found a new favorite cake! I ate several slices before I finally shared with my neighbor and send the rest home with my mom.

Check out the rest of our Midsummer Desserts:

Foodie Extravaganza celebrates obscure food holidays or shares recipes with the same ingredient or theme every month.

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook group Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

If you're a reader looking for delicious recipes, check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out here.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Yiaourti Me Meli (Greek Yogurt and Honey) Muffins #MuffinMonday

Modeled after the Greek breakfast/snack/dessert of thick yogurt sweetened with honey then topped with walnuts, these muffins have all that, in a tender crumb. 

If you stopped by here yesterday to see my slow-cooked, falling off the bones, lamb shoulder, you’ll know that I’ve had Greek recipes on the brain. Since today is Muffin Monday, the best start to the last week of the month, I decided to take a classic Greek recipe and turn it into muffins as well. May I say that it was an excellent choice. As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t been to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 but now I have read a few reviews and found them most dispiriting after waiting all this time for a sequel.

Never mind, we have muffins! Make sure you scroll on down and see the other lovelies my Muffin Monday group members have baked up for you too.

2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
1/4 cup or 58g demerara sugar, plus extra for decorating, if desired
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup or 250g Greek yogurt
1/2 cup or 120ml honey
1/4 cup canola or 60ml other light oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or 100g walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350°F and 180°C and prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it or lining it with muffin papers.

Measure your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Separate out 12 good looking walnuts for garnish and then chop the rest coarsely.

Whisk your eggs, yogurt, honey, oil and vanilla together in a small mixing bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.

Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups in your prepared pan.

Top each with a reserved walnut and sprinkle on some extra demerara sugar, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.


Happy Muffin Monday from all the Muffin Monday bakers! Look what we've made for you today!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Povitica #BreadBakers

Povitica, pronounced pov-e-tee-za, in its original form, is sweet yeast dough, stretched till it’s very, very thin, then spread with a walnut filling and rolled up, Swiss-roll style and baked in a loaf tin. I won’t kid you; this was a pain in the backside to make. It was also, however, quite delicious.

There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to sit on the closed toilet lid in a steamy bathroom and watch my father shave. I was fascinated by the canned foam that frothed up around his spreading fingers, covering whiskers and cheeks and chin. And the clean, neat path cut by the razor, snug on his skin, still pink from the hot shower, reflected in a crudely rubbed circle in the foggy mirror.

Best of all were the ditties he sung as he shaved. “’Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey,’ I cry. ‘If whiskey don’t kill me, I’ll live till I die.’” And the seemingly never ending “Hole in the bottom of the sea.” Perhaps you know it.

It starts,
“There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea. There’s a hole. There’s a hole. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.”

“There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea. There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea. There’s a log. There’s a log. There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.”

After that “There is a branch on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea” and you can see where this is all going. It’s a long song, people. But I loved it. Because my daddy was singing it.

The Great British Bake Off
Why am I sharing this with you today? It’s only because I wanted to say that unless you’ve been living under a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea, you’ve probably heard of and/or been watching the Great British Bake Off. And I thought that might need some explanation. I’m all about the teaching moments here.

I’ve been glued weekly the GBBO, as we insiders call it. It’s the ultimate competition for home bakers in the UK, starting each season with 12 bakers hand-picked from thousands of applicants. Just normal people like you and me who like to bake at home for friends and family. They are challenged with unknown recipes but hopefully familiar techniques and each week one of the 12 gets sent home, until finally last week, there was a showdown with the last three contestants. And a lovely lady named Nancy was declared the winner and given a cake plate. No kidding. A cake plate and some flowers after countless weeks of toil and worry. The real prize is the eventual cookbook deals. And perhaps they get to keep the apron.

But back to the Bread Bakers post at hand
It was the quarter final in the GBBO and the bakers were faced with a recipe that all but one of them had never heard of, povitica. Eastern European in origin, it is apparently a Christmas treat. Based on the internet chatter, few others, including me, had ever heard of it either.

But with all of the critiques from the judges in mind, and the original Paul Hollywood recipe from BBC Food in hand, I decided to give it a go for this month’s Bread Bakers theme, Touch of the Grape, adding plump raisins to the bread and baking it in my favorite Bundt pan. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of my recipe to see all the other lovely grape-ful breads we have for you this month - some sweet, some savory, all delicious - and to find out how to join us for future editions of Bread Bakers.

For the dough:
3/4 cup or 180ml whole milk
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
About 2 1/3 cups or more accurately 300g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 oz or 7g fast-acting yeast
1 oz or 30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla pod

For the filling:
1/4 cup or 60g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons whole milk
10oz  or 280g walnuts
1/2 vanilla pod
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk

To assemble:
1 cup or 150g raisins
3-4 tablespoons honey

To make the dough, warm your milk and put it in a large mixing bowl with the sugar and yeast. Leave it to sit for a few minutes to make sure that the yeast is going to foam up, signaling that it is alive and ready for action.

Cut your vanilla bean into halves and split them down one side. Scrape out the seeds from one half and add it to the yeast bowl along with the flour, egg, butter and salt.

Mix thoroughly until all the flour is incorporated.

Now beat vigorously for five to eight minutes. This dough is going to be extremely loose but should get stretchy and smooth as you keep beating.

Grease another large mixing bowl and scrape the soft dough into it. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size or about one hour.

Liberally butter your Bundt pan, making sure to cover all the nooks and crannies. Pour most of the raisins in the bottom, reserving a generous handful to sprinkle around the sides once you add the dough in, and cover them with the honey.

While the dough rises, we can make the filling.

Measure your milk into a microwaveable container and add in the butter. Microwave for 10-15 seconds at a time until the butter has melted.

Scrape the seeds out of the second half of the vanilla pod and add them to your food processor with the walnuts, sugar and salt. Pulse until you get a sandy powder.

Add in the milk/melted butter and the egg yolk and pulse to combine.

Mr. Hollywood’s recipe calls for a clean bed sheet on which to roll out your dough but I decided to take a page from GBBO contestant Martha’s book and use cling film so I covered my kitchen table almost completely in that stretchy stuff and sprinkled on some flour. By all means, use a clean sheet, if you would prefer.

Once the dough has finished rising, punch it down and turn it out onto your prepared flat surface.

Roll it out as thinly as you possibly can, sprinkling on more flour as need be. The directions call for picking the dough up and stretching it out bigger but that didn’t work so well for me so I just kept rolling gently until it was quite thin.

I managed to get it to about 28x20 inches or 70 x 50cm.

Put blogs of the filling all over the rolled dough and spread it out gently, being very careful not to rip the dough.

Starting on the long side of the dough, pick up your cling film and start rolling the dough up, Swiss-roll style, as tightly as you can manage.

So willing but so little help there under the table.

Just keep rolling, snugly, snugly, until you get to the other side.

Now here comes the trickiest part and, if you have a helper with opposable thumbs in the kitchen, this would be a good time to enlist his or her help. Sadly, my helper, though willing, does not have the necessary appendages.

Starting with one end of the roll, tuck it up against the center of the Bundt pan so that it will not be visible on top when the povitica is turned out.  Wrap the rest of the roll around in the pan. Sprinkle the reserved raisins on the bottom and down the sides of the dough.

Put the Bundt pan in a clean plastic bag in a warm place and leave the povitica to rise for one hour. On the GBBO, they called these proofing bags or some such. I used a new garbage bag and made sure it was puffed up with air so it couldn’t touch the dough.

When your hour is almost up, preheat your oven to 350F° or 180°C.

After rising in a garbage bag

Bake the povitica for 15 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 300F° or 130C° and bake for a further 45 minutes. If it starts getting too dark, you can cover the top with foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.


Traditional povitica would have been baked in a loaf pan and had a glaze drizzled on top instead of a sticky pile of honeyed raisins. So sue me. I think we all know how I feel about Bundt pans and the Touch of the Grape Bread Bakers theme was my idea so the raisins were essential.

Which reminds me that I have a fabulous bunch of grape-y breads to share with you today!


Want to join our bread baking band?
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

Monday, July 8, 2013

Banana Walnut Muffins #MuffinMonday

With apologies to David Attenborough and the BBC Natural History Unit

(Cue hushed voice)  If we observe closely, we can witness a natural phenomenon of the expat life.  Preparations for the Great Expat Migration, likened only to the circular migration of the wildebeests through the Serengeti for sheer volume of participants, begin in March or April with bookings on public conveyances.   Historically, this meant ships, but now, more likely, airplanes.  In the Northern Hemisphere the actual migration begins in early June, as formal institutes of learning close for an extended period through the heat of the summer months. 

We can observe the migrants in various states of readiness.  The elder females clear out stockpiles of clothing that no longer fit their young and make donations to the local community.  Farewell rituals are observed with parting gifts and potlucks.  Graduates are feted.  Tears are shed and bags, one inside another, are packed with skeleton wardrobes:  a few pairs of shorts, shirts and underwear, plus a possible indigenous hostess gift or two, because supplies can and will be purchased along the circular migratory path.  

Migrants en route are readily apparent by the almost complete lack of male adults on the initial leg of the journey, as mothers and their young board airplanes to reconnect with their original countrymen and home cultures for the duration of the summer season.  We follow the migratory path for the next two months as these wanderers traverse borders, staying a few days or a few weeks at a time with obliging relations and friends, gorging on favorite foods and imbibing excessive libations of a celebratory nature, and, most essentially, stocking up on necessary supplies for the return journey and the nine months before the next migration.  

Old friendships are reaffirmed and local dialects are used again.  Bewildered offspring are immersed in the culture of their parents’ heritage, which often includes being obliged to kiss aged relations in the matriarchal or patriarchal line and permit the pinching of young cheeks.  These family rituals are an attempt to transmit family values, history and culture from one generation to the next.  Male adult members often join the migration at some point, upon which the ritual or tradition called Family Holiday (BritE) or Family Vacation (AmE) ensues.  This is met by much jubilance among the youngsters and relief from the older females.  Varying from family to family, seasonal migration traditions may also include family reunions, with inexplicable matching t-shirts for all participants, adults and children alike. (Which would make a whole 'nother post.)

St. George's Island, Florida, circa 2002

First cousins

Then finally, with suitcases at capacity and appetites sated, more tears are shed and farewells are exchanged as our travelers complete the migratory circle, returning to their expat homes just in time for the start of the new school year.  

According to a United Nations projection, there might well be over 200 million expats in this big world, depending on your exact definition of expat.  How many are in the migration circle, even as I type?  Are you?  Leave me a comment!  I finished my circle early this year and Dubai is feeling pretty empty. 

But enough fun with social anthropology.  Since it’s Monday, you know I’ve got a muffin for you.  

2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5oz or 140g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup or 80ml canola
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
2 large, ripe bananas
About 3/4 cup or 75g walnuts
12 walnut halves and powdered sugar (optional for decorating)

Preheat your oven to 375F° or 190°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing or lining with paper muffin cups. 

In a large bowl mix together your flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar.  

In a smaller bowl, whisk your milk, canola oil and eggs, along with the two ripe bananas.  

Chop your walnuts.  

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  

Now fold in the chopped nuts. 

Evenly distribute the batter among the muffin cups.  

Top with one walnut half per muffin, if desired. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Remove the muffins from the muffin pan and finish cooling on a rack.  

Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar – optional, but look how pretty!