This honey walnut cake is a loving tribute to Maria Helm Sinskey’s Alsatian mother, and the honey so beloved in her home. Toasted walnuts, walnut flour, orange zest, and lots of honey give this cake a tender crumb and delicate flavor.
Nothing expresses a region’s character more than a spoonful of wildflower honey. The flavor varies depending on what flowers are indigenous to the area. A hive full of bees did a lot of hard work only to have their cache robbed, so every spoonful consumed should be appreciated. Alsatians are fiercely proud of their honey. It shows up in their cakes and pastries and gets drizzled on cheese. –Maria Helm Sinskey
WHAT MAKES WILDFLOWER HONEY DIFFERENT?
The most common honey is clover, with wildflower coming pretty far behind. The reason? Clover honey tastes mild and honey-like, so people know what to expect. It’s basic honey–lovely and almost always the same. Wildflower honey comes from bees that visit various wildflowers, rather than clover. The floral taste of wildflower honey can range from mild to quite noticeable, depending on the time of year, the location of the beehive, the pollen collected, and the number of bees working in the hives.
This recipe can be made with clover honey but the use of wildflower honey will come through and accentuate the orange and walnut flavors.
Honey Walnut Cake
My Strasbourg-born grandmother would combine honey and walnuts in the fall to produce a cake similar to this one. It’s delicate and moist and carries the scent of honey, orange peel, and walnuts. Serve it unadorned or with softly whipped cream.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
Spread the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Dump onto a plate to cool slightly. Rub the nuts in a towel to remove the loose skins.
Grind the nuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the flour until very fine. In a medium bowl, combine the ground nuts, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter with the honey and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the orange zest and vanilla. Add it in thirds to the butter mixture. Beat well to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, toast about 10 walnut halves on a sheet pan for 8 minutes. While they are still warm rub the nuts in a towel to remove the excess skin and place them in a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of honey and stir until the walnuts are coated. Reserve the walnut halves at room temperature to garnish the cake when it is finished.
Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a cake rack to cool. Garnish the edge of the cake with the walnut halves before slicing it into wedges.
Serving: 1servingCalories: 484kcal (24%)Carbohydrates: 44g (15%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 33g (51%)Saturated Fat: 13g (81%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 115mg (38%)Sodium: 104mg (5%)Potassium: 235mg (7%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 29g (32%)Vitamin A: 631IU (13%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 74mg (7%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
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Originally published July 15, 2003
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