Over on Patreon, patrons at a certain level get to challenge me twice a year to make something… interesting. My mum challenged me to make a walnut cake that she adores. Challenge accepted! And since I am currently visiting said maternal figure, and we’ve got people coming over for dinner tomorrow, what better timing could there be?
As a rule I am the one helping out in the kitchen when I come to visit, but today Mum decided to let me do stuff myself… except for some of the cleaning up. That she insisted on doing before I could get to it.
Torta di Noci
2 cups walnuts, toasted
150g caster sugar
3 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons brandy
50g plain flour
50g SR flour
60ml lemon juice
55g caster sugar
- Grease springform tin, line base with baking paper. Process nuts until finely chopped.
- Beat butter, sugar, and egg in small bowl till light and fluffy. Transfer to large bowl (but really? who does that? even Mum said she doesn’t do that), stir in rind and brandy.
- Stir in nuts and sifted flours.
- Spread into prepared tin, bake in moderately slow oven for about an hour.
- Meanwhile, SYRUP: Combine ingredients in small pan. Stir over heat without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Pour hot syrup over hot cake. Cover with foil, cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve dusted with sifted icing sugar if desired.
Between you and me, I think this was more of a “I think you’ll like this cake” rather than a challenge – not that I’m complaining. I’m certainly looking forward to eating it, and it was nice to actually cook something for the first time in ages!
I had the opportunity to cook for part of my family this weekend – which doesn’t happen very often – so I decided to experiment. Which is perhaps dangerous, but that’s How I Roll.
Dinner #1: Indian Made Easy
Chana Masala – chickpea stew basically. It was ok, although not as large as I had hoped. So it’s a good thing that I also made…
Stuffed potato and pea cakes – mashed potato with spices, wrapped around pulsed peas and paneer and more spices, lightly fried. 110% would make again. So good.
Dinner #2: Saffron Tales
Chicken with walnuts and pomegranate – I’ve looked at this a couple times but been put off by the amount of time required with the walnuts. You need to cook the blitzed walnuts with water for two hours, so that it turns into a porridge-like consistency. But you don’t really need to do anything with it, just stir it occasionally, so if you’re home anyway it’s pretty easy. Then you add chicken (or eggplant) and pomegranate molasses and leave it for another 40 or so minutes and… absolute culinary delight; my sister thought it looked like mole (she’s just back from Mexico). Can’t wait to eat this again. Served with…
Coconut rice (because I couldn’t be bothered with proper Persian rice with saffron etc), and a play on salad shirazi (we removed the red onion and added avocado).
But wait! You’re all saying. What about dessert?! My sister made Nigella’s boiled mandarine cake. Which was good… after, um, a slight mandarine+saucepan malfunction. Probably the less said about that the better, if I want to stay on her good side…
Previously on cupcakes: apple, and pistachio.
Yup, more cupcakes. These are appropriately carrot-y, and I like the walnuts. But there wasn’t enough cardamom – definitely increase that next time, or swap out for cinnamon and nutmeg?
Iced with double cream that I’d whipped too much of, for the sponge cake, and blurrily photographed as such below.
Caution: trying to say the name of these biscuits as an Anglo can have dangerous consequences for earworms.
These biscuits were my first foray into the Greek chapter of Tess Mallos’ Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook. They’re honey-dipped cookies and they were, of course, a winner. They were a bit fiddly to make what with the kneading and then the pinching off and the adding the filling and then pinching shut, but in the end it was totally worth it.
The pastry is a pretty straightforward sweet one; it has both oil and butter which surprised me a little but they don’t come out particularly oily or anything. Orange zest and juice is a nice touch.
The filling is honey and cinnamon and walnuts and orange juice; it’s meant to have some almond essence but I decided it wasn’t necessary. You grab a bit of pastry, make a flat disc, put some filling in the middle and then pinch it together. Like I said, a bit time-consuming… but I made just over 40. (The recipe says 60; I presume my biscuits were bigger than they’re meant to be.)
After they’ve cooked you also dip them in a honey syrup; you only dip the ones you’re going to eat immediately. I made some for friends, but didn’t dip them all; I’m not sure how long they’ll last. Ate some that had been dipped the day before – they still tasted fine, although yes probably a bit better when they were fresh.
I can imagine making these again although it will have to be an important event to make the time worth it.
When I moved house a year ago, the amazing Kate of Just Add Moonshine (JAM) sent a jar of candied walnuts. And oh my goodness, they really are like adult candy.
Take your walnuts and add a fair bit of sugar, sage that’s been fried in some butter, and salt and roast… and make sure that the other people in your house don’t know where they are. These will just go, because they are just so easy to eat by the handful.
I’m giving them away as Christmas presents.