Walnut Cake

October 25, 2016
8 Ratings
Photo by Oddur Thorisson
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This is without a doubt the recipe in French Country Cooking that I’ve cooked most often this past year. We baked it for all the workshops, almost every day for the restau- rant, and, in between, for ourselves. When you look over the list of recipes in the book you might not think this was the showstopper; so many others jump out first, seemingly richer, more delicious. But there is more to this cake than meets the eye. First of all, it’s delicious but not too sweet, which is nice in and of itself, but it also means that Oddur has the excuse to serve a small glass of sweet wine, maybe an old Pineau from the Charentes, which goes incredibly well with the deep nutty flavor of the cake. Those who like whipped cream won’t be disappointed because I serve it with a generous dollop on the side. This cake may not generate too much excitement beforehand, but after you’ve had it you’ll fall in love. And that is the best sort of food love, not just a quick crush, but love that lasts. Reprinted with permission from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson (Clarkson Potter 2016). —Mimi Thorisson

What You'll Need
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup (150 grams) walnuts, plus 5 walnut halves for decorating the cake
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • confectioners' sugar
  • whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Grease a 7-inch / 18 cm Bundt pan with butter.
  2. Finely chop the walnuts or pulse them in a food processor until you have coarse crumbs. In a large bowl, combine the walnuts and granulated sugar and mix well. Mix in the butter, eggs, rum, honey, vanilla, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the walnut mixture.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Unmold and let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle a dash of confectioners’ sugar into a small sauté pan and add the 5 reserved walnut halves. Cook over medium-low heat for a few seconds, until the nuts are slightly golden. Arrange the walnuts on top of the warm cake and drizzle with a little honey before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • 2tattered
  • stopwiththis
  • jenny
  • Momo
Mimi Thorisson is the author of Manger, a blog devoted to French cooking, and the host of La Table de Mimi on Canal+ in France. After a career in television and having lived in Hong-Kong, Singapore, London, Reykjavik, and Paris, she settled with her photographer husband, five young children, two older stepchildren, and the family's fourteen dogs in a rural farmhouse in Médoc.

9 Reviews

stopwiththis January 21, 2023
amazing flavor and texture, although the walnuts settled at the bottom a bit too much for some reason. also it was sticking to the pan, but i'm a noob with cakes in general.

i personally prefer a finer and less walnutty texture so i'll be trying to add more flour and starch and less walnuts for the next time through
jenny July 24, 2022
I just made this cake - for step 2 I first mixed the ground walnuts with the sugar. Then I added the softened butter and mixed that well. Then I added one egg at a time, mixing each one in well. Then I added the rum, honey, and vanilla all at once. And then folded in the dry ingredients. It came out perfectly! It's a really lovely, not too sweet cake - perfect for a weekday dessert. And I found the texture actually improves after it sits for a couple hours.
Momo August 18, 2017
Thank you Maryellen!
maryellen August 18, 2017
#2 is two separate actions. First pulse the nuts until finely ground. Next, incorporate nuts with other listed ingredients making sure butter is at room temp and fairly soft. This makes it easy to cream by hand with the other ingredients.
Momo August 18, 2017
I really want to try this recipe but I don't understand how I should go about the second step, can you explain the process?
Mira April 12, 2017
I am also confused about butter. CAn you please clarify ? Do I cream butter with sugar, and add flour and walnuts later on ? It is really hard for me to follow your directions.....this is something new in baking ??? ......Mira
tressa December 16, 2016
what's the deal with the butter here? is it supposed to be creamed? melted?
maryellen November 7, 2016
Would you please recommend a substitute for the rum? Thank you.
2tattered October 11, 2020
Bourbon? If you want to eliminate alcohol, just leave it out or you could try 3T brewed coffee and 1/2 tsp rum extract or to taste.