From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We had a special celebration in our house this weekend. The Silver Fox turned 75, and while that's a big number, I'm happy to report he is much younger than those years might suggest. Our youngest, who shares his sense of humor, sent him a card that might have upset a more timid soul. The gist of the message suggested that should he see a bright light, he might want to avoid it. That sent him into gales of laughter, so I think it's fair to assume that age has not diminished his rather wild sense of humor. He had some special requests for his birthday dinner. One of them was for this very old-fashioned black walnut cake. This cake was once popular in areas of the Midwest and it was a late summer and early fall favorite, despite problems associated with harvesting the nuts. The black walnut has a much stronger flavor than the more common English walnut. The nutmeats provide a robust, distinctive, earthy flavor that also adds texture to food. I suggest you forget the harvest and purchase chopped black walnuts online. While the nutmeats are extremely flavorful, cracking their shells is a Herculean task best left to those who have the equipment needed to do it. I also suggest you use only black walnuts to make this cake. Their English counterpart simply doesn't have the flavor needed to pull this cake off. At some point, the 7 minute boiled icing used to frost this cake was renamed and called Sea Foam icing. I guess if you close your eyes and concentrate, the myriad peaks and color of this icing might resemble foamy sea waves, but you'll really have to concentrate to see that. I'm always humbled when I make a boiled icing. It's work to make with an electric mixer, and it is amazing to think that homemakers once stood at the stove with a rotary mixer and made this icing by hand. If you wish, and you have the time, you can make a chocolate mousse filling for the cake, rather than use packaged pudding mix. This is a lovely cake that you might want to keep in mind for really special occasions. It's a lot of work and costly to make, but the end result is a grand combination of flavors and textures that I know you will enjoy. Here is how the cake is made.
Black Walnut Cake with Sea Foam Frosting...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Farm Journal
3-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups shortening
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups milk
4 egg whites
1-1/4 cups chopped black walnuts
1 (3-1/2 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding
1-3/4 cup milk
2 egg whites
1-1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans with shortening or nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Grease or spray paper and set aside.
2) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3) Cream shortening. Add almond and vanilla extracts. Gradually add 1-1/2 cups of sugar, creaming mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating each until absorbed. Alternately add flour mixture in three parts with milk in two parts, beating until smooth after each addition.
4) Beat egg whites until frothy. Add reserved 1/4 cup sugar, beating until meringue is stiff and glossy but not dry. Lightly fold meringue into batter, then fold in black walnuts.
5) Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake for about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes, then release from pans and continue cooling until layers are at room temperature.
Follow directions on package for pudding decreasing milk to 1-3/4 cups. Let thicken slightly. Spread pudding on top of base layer, then top base with second layer of cake.
1) Place egg whites, brown sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in insert (top) of a double boiler. Using an electric hand mixer, beat to combine. Place insert over pan of boiling water and beat constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
2) Add vanilla and beat frosting until it is of spreading consistency. Spread on sides and top of cake. Yield:12 servings.
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