Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Southern Nut Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Fruit cake is a misunderstood confection. While we love it, most of our guests move it around their plates or hide it under napkins when they don't think we are looking. If your first bite of fruit cake was a disaster, chances are I'll never be able to convince you of its merits. That's a shame because a well aged fruit cake is a wondrous mix of jeweled and drunken fruit suspended in a spare but flavorful batter. In order to please our guests I periodically seek out recipes for Christmas cakes and puddings that might have more universal appeal. This year I decided to try Maida Heatter's Southern Nut Cake. I'm happy to report it is a lovely cake and it has been well received by those who've tried it. I thought the cake was dry when I first sampled it, so I wrapped it in brandy soaked cheese cloth and let it sit for several days before serving. That did the trick. If you are looking for a fruitless fruit cake, you'll love this nut extravaganza. While it is expensive to make, it's easy to do and would make a marvelous addition to your Christmas table. Here's the recipe.

Southern Nut Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Maida Heatter

1 pound toasted walnuts, broken in large pieces
1 pound toasted pecans, broken in large pieces
3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brandy or bourbon, divided use
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs


1) Move an oven rack to lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 x 4-inch tube pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pan with fine dried bread crumbs. Set aside.
2) Place walnuts and pecans into a very large mixing bowl or roasting pan.
3) Combine flour, baking powder, mace and salt in another bowl. Whisk to combine.
4) Combine milk and 1/4 cup brandy or bourbon in another bowl. Set aside.
5) Cream butter in large bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat at moderate speed for two or three minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until incorporated. Increase speed and beat until light and fluffy.
6) On low speed alternately add flour mixture in three additions and milk mixture in two, beating only until smooth after each addition. Pour batter over nuts and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until nuts are coated with batter. Turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top to even.
7) Bake for 1-3/4 hours or until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Transfer cake to a cooling rack. While cake is still hot brush top with reserved 1/4 cup brandy or bourbon. Let cake cool in pan for 20 minutes. Cover cake with a cooling rack and invert to remove paper. Invert again and cool in upright position. Let cake age for 24 hours before serving. Yield: 16 servings.


Fifi Flowers said...

Ooooh that looks like something perfect with my cafe creme! YUM!!!

Selba said...

Whoaaa... look at the texture of the nuts! I would love to have a slice of it!

tracieMoo said...

what a great way to substitute fruits with all nuts! The cake looks lovely with the amount of nuts. I was wondering if this cake needs butter?

Unknown said...

I love the brandy soaked cheesecloth idea. Mmm yum!

Martha said...

I made something similar -- only in miniature (in the wee cupcake pans). Mine has bourbon soaked golden raisins in it as well and on the prairie, we always use pecans. And I decorated each "bite" with a candied cherry. Although the recipe name was "individual nut cakes", I changed it to bourbon bites because of the quantity of bourbon in it! The bites are especially good with a wee bit of bourbon added after baking!

I'm a fruitcake devotee -- but it has to be a good fruitcake (boughten, not made -- we love the Corsicana, Texas ones).

However, non fruitcake lovers do love the nutcakes -- and a thin slice . . . .

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Have a wonderful holiday season filled with kitchen successes, peace and joy.This cake is studded with nuts, very elegant.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Thank you Mary for posting this lovely nut cake. Yours looks delicious. Mother made her famous fruit cake again yeaterday. She made a batch a few weeks ago and it is gone! It is a lovely mix of fruit, nuts and more cake than usual for a fruit cake and we love it. We do not soak in liquer as she is opposed to this but I must say it does get better as it sits and ages.
Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

fruitcake gets the bad rap from those awful candied things they sell in the grocery... My sainted aunt could make a fruitcake everyone loved (it was a right of passage that the kids could have a slice when we turned 18 only... Now I know it was just a way to limit the supply to the adults, and not waste it on the youth).

Unknown said...

WOW!!! I love this recipe, I'm really not a fruitcake lover and this WONDERFUL!!! recipe doesn't have all the candied fruit and that's the part I don't like. I nuts are my favorite part and this has lots of those. Like always Mary, THANKS!!! for the AWESOME!!! recipe.

Karen said...

I would love to have a slice of this cake along with my morning coffee! I love fruitcake. My Mom always made a light fruitcake that was sort of a poundcake with fruit and nuts. I prefer the dark fruitcake with lots of everything in it! Heck, I even like the store-bought ones in the tin!

Lori said...

I am not big into dried fruits in my cake bread or cookies. So unfortunately, I am not a big fan of fruit cake. I do like pannetone and stollen though- but prefer it without the citron. A few specks here and there is okay but no major domination. And I whole heartedly agree that the walnuts have a huge appeal for me. Looks amazing.

NKP said...

Wow, that is a lot of nuts! I love pecans. Great holiday tea cake.

Soma said...

Bookmarked. Would make an absolutely gorgeous gift too.

Wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed Holiday Season.

Dee said...

i LOVE fruit cake, maybe not the super market kind, but a good fruit cake cannot be missed.

a nut cake sounds yummy too though!

my daddy is southern boy, and i have been trying to cook him something like his momma cooked him back in the day, and i can never do it to meet his expectations.

i want to bake him something nice and authentically southern for christmas, maybe THIS will have to be the recipe ?? it is making the list of ones i have to choose between anyhoo.

La Bella Cooks said...

Beautiful! Pecans would be the winner in this cake for me.

Mickey said...

I have to admit it. I love Fruitcake! My husband even buys me one every single year during the holidays. This looks like one I might be able to do myself! Thanks for sharing-it is so pretty too.

Shellbelle said...

I love fruitcake, as long as it is homemade, but this sounds wonderful and looks like a perfect gift to make my cousins when I visit.

Merry Christmas Mary to you and yours. I'm looking forward to another year of your fabulous recipes!

My Little Space said...

Gosh, just look at those nuts! I'm really go NUTS! haha.....

Anonymous said...

Nice cake! Recipe does not mention the quantity of butter... can you please precise?

Beverly said...

Oh, wow! This is something that would be well-loved at my home. I can never have too many nuts.

By the way, my husband love fruitcake. We even found a fruitcake shirt for him. And, he wears it every Christmas season.

Katy ~ said...

I'm a fruitcake lover, love just about all of them, even those clunky glumpy things sold in the supermarket, grins. This cake looks irresistible.

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