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 [http://www.appliancesonline.co.uk/cookers/cookers.aspx], 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 gift...it 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
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.