Sunday, 22 May 2011

Walnut and date cake with walnut buttercream

If I was sponsored for every time I typed the word “birthday”, then by the end of May I could retire! This cake, for Mr CC’s birthday, concludes the birthday season amongst my nearest and dearest!

Mr CC is most fond of date and walnut cakes and I didn’t struggle to find a recipe. But then he dealt a curve ball and requested walnut buttercream. There are not many recipes for such a thing so I adapted a recipe. Any buttercream with chopped nuts, no matter how finely you chop them, will not be smooth but however much I tried to deter Mr CC from this request he stood firm.

The cake was stunning – it had similar flavour to sticky toffee pudding but was far less sweet, thanks to the walnuts, and had a light texture punctuated with crunchy nuggets of walnut. A big hit.

As predicted, the buttercream was a little gritty (not in an unpleasant way and barely noticeable when eaten with the cake) but the flavour was heavenly. The first hit of flavour was typical buttercream i.e. whippy sugary butter, but then the nut came through and cut away a lot of the sweetness. As with anything containing nuts, the flavour deepened over time.

Happy birthday Mr CC...enjoy this new decade!

Fairy Hobmother update: I’m sure many of you will have seen mentions of the Fairy Hobmother on other blogs. He (yes, confusing isn’t it!) is from Appliances Online [], a major online white goods and appliances retailer, and visits bloggers with lovely gifts. I’m delighted with my Amazon voucher and can proudly state that I do believe in fairies! The Fairy Hobmother is a benevolent fairy (are there evil fairies?) and has promised to pick one person from anyone commenting on this post with an offer of a lovely could be you!


For the cake:
265g stoned dates, chopped
300ml boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
375g self raising flour
100g walnuts, chopped

For the buttercream:
375g icing sugar
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
40g walnuts, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons milk

To decorate: walnut halves.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Line two 20cm round sandwich tins with baking paper ensuring that the paper comes up above the edge of the tin.

Place the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped dates and leave for 10 minutes.

Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and put to one side.

Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. As it is brown sugar, it won’t go whippy as if you were using caster sugar and also, as there’s not much butter it won’t go creamy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Stir in the dates and their liquid.

Fold in the flour and walnuts and make sure that the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon into the prepared tins and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Mine took 30 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tins, on a wire rack. The cake will be very soft and trying to de-tin it too early may cause heartache!

You can make the sponges a day or two in advance as long as you store them in an airtight container.

When you are ready to compile the finished cake make the buttercream: Place the icing sugar in a bowl and, with the mixer on a slow speed, start to beat in the butter. (Once the butter is mixed in a bit you can up the speed on the mixer).

Add the chopped nuts and enough milk to attain a soft, spreadable consistency.

Place one sponge on the serving plate and spread about 1/3 of the buttercream over the top.

Place the other sponge on top and gently press down to fix in place.

Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.

Decorate with walnut halves, if desired.

Serve in generous slices.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



katescakesandbakes said...

It's funny how families birthdays tend to congregate together in a particular month (well, perhaps not so 'funny' when you are baking your umpteenth birthday cake!). In our family its May and November-the rest of the year doesn't get a look in. When I was a kid (okay, last week) I was trying to persuade my family we need to have, a la the queen, second birthdays = double the presents!

Anyways, I digress, what a lovely, delicious cake! And happy birthday Mr CC!

Baking Addict said...

I always look forward to your birthday creations - very inspiring. Happy birthday to Mr CC. This sounds like an absolutely delightful cake. Ps I bought your fancy flower candle for a friend's birthday next week - can't wait to use it.

ilikeyoursundress said...

Happy birthday, Mr CC! Looks delicious :)

Nom! said...

this such a cute cake, love it! Always good to have a lot of birthdays I love churning out birthday cake after birthday cake!

Lisa Shannon said...

Happy birthday Mr CC, I couldn't help noticing that he is celebrating the same significant one as me and my nearest friends and dearest this year-yikes!!. Any cake with walnuts in is my favourite,although I do like lemons too like the CC Ma, but I would choose walnut,therefore this one may make the big day more agreeable. They say life begins...
Best wishes
Lisa xxx

Maria♥ said...

What a yummylicious layer cake!!! The buttercream looks divine.


Candy London said...

This look soooo good - every time I try to make a big, stacked cake like this it never goes quite right. I think it is the consistency of my icing, so I will be trying this one! Many thanks - I love your blog and often check it for inspiration! xx

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Mr CC. Have a walnut and date filled year!

Gloria said...

this cake sounds a nd look wonderful! I love birthday cakes!!! gloria

Pamela said...

Another wonderful creation. Although I'm odd in that nuts make my throat itch, I love dates. You are such an inspiration.

Katie said...

Wow looks fabulous! I adore anytihng nutty too but never thought of trying walnut buttercream. Sounds fabulous and will have to try this out!

Sharon said...

That is a cake of stunning proportions. Sadly, no amount of faffing with wheat-free alternatives will reward me with a proper sized cake these days. I do enjoy seeing yours though. It's something to aspire to!

p.s. I will believe the Fairy Hobmother exists when I enter my kitchen to find that the hob has magically been cleaned...

Victoria said...

CC...looks fab! I am super jealous of all your friends and fam who get to enjoy your creations! (my bday is looming...) well done with the nutty buttercream! ;)

Johanna GGG said...

great cake - my family birthdays all seem to occur between sept and nov and I am just grateful when they are over and I remember what weekends without birthdays feel like!

As for creamy walnut frosting, I think you should look out for a walnut butter in health food shops - I recently tried a chocolate ganache with cashew nut butter and it was lovely - even grinding them a lot might help

Cyncalla said...

Is that a little train chugging around the cake's perimeter? Adorable!

One of the things I really enjoy about the recipes you select is that you are not insane about fads and chocolate-- these are good, solid cakes that stand the test of time.

Annie said...

I only recently found your blog and am loving it. What a lot of birthdays and what a super selection of cakes.

Jo Goff said...

I shall definitely be making one of these at the weekend. It's my Mum's favourite!

Miss M said...

Personally I would like the ground nuts and would probably overdo it by sprinkling the whole thing with chopped nuts too, but I wonder if a walnut liqueur would work for a smoother flavouring if you wanted that. I know they're normally made with unripe walnuts and while delicious not really walnutty but a quick Google suggests others (eg Lurgashall Winery) might be more nutty. Fun experimenting with anyway...

I've just made some mini coffee and walnut cakes and reading this post inspired me to have a go at writing it up - it also occurred to me that one day I could decorate a large cake with mini cakes...that could actually be Too Much Cake.

Maggie said...

First thing that sprung to mind was - do you have a birthday to celebrate every other week of the year CC?!! Another great cake.

Pleased the fairyhobmother gave you an Amazon voucher too.

Liz said...

I love the fact that your cakes are what my Dad would refer to as 'honest to goodness' - none of this fancy faffing around!

Also loving the sound of the Fairy Hobmother - I wonder if he could restore my baking mojo after something of a catastrophe last week?

josiejo said...

I love walnuts, they are a staple in Persian cooking (especially the celebration dish fesenjan which has a wondefully rich pomegranate and walnut sauce). I had never thought of nuts in a buttercream before but I wonder whether pistachios would work? I have a recipe for a 'Persian love cake' (although I'm not sure how authentic a recipe it is as none of my boyfriend's family have heard of it) that is a sponge infused with saffron and cardamom, among other flavours. Pistachio is another traditional Persian flavour and I think it just might work!

Choclette said...

Well done Mr CC, what a wondrous walnut whippy invention. And well done you for making so many wonderful birthday cakes in such a short time.

Anonymous said...

love the cake, where did you get the train candle holder from ? Nikki

Tamsin said...

I have just discovered your blog and fallen in love. Genius idea. Awesome sense of humour. Superb writing. I am smitten, in love, and in awe. One day, when I grow up, I want to have such an ace blog.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Nikki

I got them from ebay. Ebay has everything!

happy baking!

Jo said...

Your cake looks absolutely amazing, think I may have to try making one!

AmandaJB said...

MMmmmmm, looks delish! Have been checking out your creations since CC Brother pointed me in your direction, especially after he share the divine cheesecake balls you made for his birthday (I would have kept them all to myself!). Gave your lemon drizzle recipe a bash recently and it went down a treat - lots of compliments, so thank you. About to browse your recipes for something in cherry...

Sarah said...

I think my mum would be proud of this cake, if only for the ring of trains on the top! It looks so yummy - happy birthday!

Nicola said...

That cake looks amazing, I love walnuts. I've been researching your site for recipes for a birthday cake I need to make this weekend. So much choice! x

natalie rae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natalie rae said...

so, just pulled the cake from the oven - smell was so wonderful, had to take a taste off the top (will be covered with icing, so no one will know the better!) Delish! I used coffee instead of water with the dates, and it was fantastic... now on to the icing - I must admit that I am a less than steller icing maker, but I will try anything - once.... again, lovely cake! making birthday cake for my father in law who loves dates and loves walnuts, so really think that this will be a big hit!

xxsarahxx said...

i found this cake just through browsing around different sites for a date and walnut cake to bake for my lovely mom for a treat. Well today i did it!!!!! and i have to say it was delicious. So moist and tasty. I don't even like dates but that didn't put me off. Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely recipe with us xx

Anonymous said...

May I ask, why did you use such a small amount of walnuts in the buttercream? Does it have anything to do with the oils spoiling the stability of the buttercream? Cake looks so good!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous

It was more that I didn't want the buttercream to feel gritty in the mouth. Plus, there were already a lot of walnuts in the sponge so I didn't want to risk the oils causing any probs in the stability.
Hope this helps

Happy baking!