Side Dish: Coffee and Walnut Cake

Photo provided by SARA LEMONCoffee and Walnut Cake is a favorite sweet in Britain. Show caption
Photo provided by SARA LEMONCoffee and Walnut Cake is a favorite sweet in Britain.

Members of the Baton Rouge Art League not only appreciate good art, but they also enjoy good food and all of them seem to be top-notch cooks.

The members take turns providing snacks for the monthly morning meetings. There are no store-bought cookies and cakes to accompany coffee and punch for this group. The women offer a lovely and tasty spread. For example, at the Nov. 14 meeting, members and their guests ate of several varieties of homemade tea sandwiches, cheese balls, dips, cookies and cakes.

One of the sweets, an iced, two-layer Coffee and Walnut Cake, came from Penny Nichols, who seems to have a real gift for concocting recipes or tweaking them. She was a finalist in the 1998 Pillsbury Bake-Off and in the 1999 National Chicken Cooking Contest.

Nichols regularly travels to England to visit friends and in connection with her business, Vintage Linens Etc. When there, she said, she is often served Coffee and Walnut Cake, along with hot tea. And, she said, her friends have told her the cake has long been popular among the British.

After one of her trips, she returned to Baton Rouge with a desire to make the cake for herself. She developed her own recipe based on some she found on the Internet and is sharing it with The Advocate’s Food readers.

Although she’s made the cake only as a two-layer cake, Nichols believes the recipe could be made as a sheet cake in a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Cookbook signings

Several cookbooks will be available at LSU Press’ Season’s Readings holiday book sale from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Circa 1857, 1857 Government St., Baton Rouge.

Cynthia LeJeune Nobles, who writes the Bites of History column in The Advocate’s Food section, will be on hand to sign copies of “The Delta Queen Cookbook.”

Also available will be The Herb Society of America’s “Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking With Herbs,” edited by Katherine K. Schlosser. The book includes recipes from members of the Herb Society’s Baton Rouge Unit.

Other food-related books include “Sook’s Cookbook: Memories and Traditional Recipes From the Deep South” by Marie Rudisill and “Wings of Paradise: Birds of the Louisiana Wetlands” by Charlie Hohorst Jr. and with recipes by Marcelle Bienvenu.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.

Coffee and Walnut Cake

Serves 12. Recipe is from Penny Nichols, who says coffee and walnut cakes are popular in England.

Cake:

8 ozs. unsalted butter

8 ozs. sugar

3 large eggs

1½ fl. ozs. strong coffee

8 ozs. self-rising flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2½ ozs. walnuts, chopped fine

Buttercream topping:

2 ozs. unsalted butter

4 ozs. cream cheese

12 ozs. powdered (confectioners’) sugar

1 fl. oz. strong coffee

Walnut pieces to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round cake tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.

2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and pale.

3. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next egg.

4. Add the coffee to the mixture and stir well. Add the flour, baking powder and chopped walnuts and stir well to completely combine. Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tins. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden-brown. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Remove paper.

5. For the buttercream topping, beat the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar together in a small bowl until pale and light. Add the coffee and mix well. Spread the buttercream over the top of each cake, then place one cake on top of the other. Decorate the top of the cake with walnut pieces.