Coffee & Walnut Cake

With hundreds of kilos of walnuts harvested every year at Les Crouquets, I’m always looking for ways to use them up….here’s a delicious cake which will take care of 80 g or so of walnuts. Ok I know I’d need to make hundreds of cakes to make even a tiny dent in the huge nut pile….

Every year we have around 4 of these big wire drying trays full of walnuts

Coffee & Walnut Cake:  serves 8 – 12

Ingredients for the cake

  • 180g butter at room temperature
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g self raising flour *
  • 2 tsps instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbs hot water
  • 60g walnut pieces

Ingredients for the frosting

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 85g icing sugar , sifted
  • 1.5 tsps instant coffee granules dissolved in 1.5 tsps hot water
  •  walnut halves to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4

Put the butter & sugar in a large bowl and cream together until pale & fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the walnuts and coffee.

Divide the mixture into two greased & bottom lined ** 20 cm sandwich tins, level the mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Divide mixture into two prepared sandwich tins

Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting beat*** together the mascarpone, icing sugar & coffee. Spread slightly less than half of the mixture over one of the cakes, place the second cake on top & spread the rest of the frosting over the top . Decorate with walnut halves.

My observations!

* I never find the French Self raising flour gives good results so I always add some extra baking powder to my recipes. I can never remember if it’s too much or not enough raising agent which can make your cakes dense but this one was a bit heavier than I would have liked so obviously I didn’t get that right.

** Don’t forget to line the bottom of the tins – I did the last time I made this and fed all of Les Crouquets’ bird population on the broken mess which came out of the oven

*** The recipe says beat together the mascarpone & icing sugar. I did so quite zealously with the electric mixer and ended up with a lovely but very runny coffee sauce …luckily I had enough mascarpone left to make more for the filling ( mixing in with a wooden spoon this time!) but was forced to pour the sauce over the cake.

Delicious but not exactly the professional outcome I was hoping for!

Hoping for a lighter fluffier result next time but still very moreish!!



September’s Recipe

Way back in the 1980s La Potinière in Gullane, East Lothian was the place to go for a gastronomic meal – you had to book months ahead to get a table (at one point their Saturday night waiting list was reputed to be two years long!)  and I remember people saying that if you didn’t plan way ahead there was no point in even asking –  this wasn’t always true, especially at lunch times or midweek but such was their reputation.

La potiniere cookbook from 1980sWe regrettably didn’t get the chance (or rather make the time!) to eat there while  Hilary & David Brown were there … after 27 very successful years in the business they decided to move on. La Potinière is now run by Keith Marley & Mary Runciman.It still all looks wonderful & we still haven’t been.( Not surprising though as we now live more than 1500 kms away ).

We still have the original well thumbed La Potinière & friends cookbook though and one of my favourite recipes is Hilary’s Tomato & mint Soup. With a glut of tomatoes in our vegetable patch at this time of the year I make lots of it to freeze & enjoy over the Winter.

tomato and mint soup

Tomato & Mint Soup ( 6 servings )

  • 50g unsalted butter                                  home grown tomatoes
  • 225g finely sliced onions
  • 900 g ripe, juicy tomatoes
  • 85 ml dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 3 rounded tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • seasoning
  • sprigs of fresh mint & a little lightly whipped cream to garnish
  1. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan. Add the onion & cook gently until softened but not coloured. Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the tomatoes whole, with skins and stalks, the sherry, sugar & mint. No water is needed at this stage. Stir together, cover with a lid, then simmer for 45 mins to an hour. Stir occasionally.
  3. Ladle the mixture into a liquidiser & blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the soup through a mouli into the rinsed- out pan.
  5. Stir together, then add enough water to correct the consistency. Season to taste, about 1-2 teaspoons of salt. It should have plenty of body so don’t add too much water – the tomatoes should have created enough liquid.
  6. When you are ready to serve, reheat the soup and ladle into warm bowls. Garnish with a little lightly whipped cream & top with a sprig of fresh mint.
My own tuppence worth…
  • We rarely have sherry in our cupboard as it’s hard to find here so I have made this soup with whatever has been lurking at the back of our fridge at the time ( within reason of course!!). White port, Tawny port and Madeira have all been successful but the best soup I’ve made was with a mixture of Marsala & something else which I can’t quite recall now….no matter, it should still be delicious!!