I came up with this recipe many years ago while living in Spain, where walnuts and other "frutos secos" take center stage during the holidays (walnuts are my mother's favorite). It also happens to be a very convenient way to use up old baguettes while making your family and friends very, very happy! There are two versions of this recipe, one with baking soda and one without. If you leave out the baking soda, you get a dense torte like cake, while the other results in a cake that is lighter and spongier. Both are delicious and very decadent. Pleas enjoy this cake fit for coffee and nut lovers the world around! —nycnomad
Set the oven to 325F, and prepare an 8" springform pan with parchment.
Place the egg yolks and egg white into 2 large separate bowls.
Add 2/3 of a cup of sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until it turns pale yellow. Put to the side.
Place the walnuts in a food processor, and grind until they reach a medium to fine consistency. Add the nuts a little ata time to the egg yolk and sugar mixture, until they are fully incorporated.
You can do the same with the day old bread. *( I used a GLUTEN FREE millet and quinoa bread that is quite dense, but gives a lovely result. The flavor of the grains will change the flavor of the cake. For the record, white bread gives the "best" result due to its neutral flavor.) I find this is the easiest way to make bread crumbs, and spares my knuckles from the wrath of the cheese grater. When the bread crumbs have also reached a fine consistency, add them into the egg yolk/sugar/walnut mixture. The batter will now pe quite thick and very sticky. Put to the side.
With either an electric mixture or a hand held whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold the egg whites, a little at a time into the walnut batter, going slowly and making sure that the egg whites are completely blended in before adding more. The batter will get lighter and easier to fold as you go along.
At this stage you can add the baking soda, IF you so choose. Fold it into the batter gently. If you want to bypass this step, proceed to the next.
Pour the batter into the prepared 8" springform pan. Place into the oven and bake for 1hr - 1hr+15mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean, the surface of the cake will be firm and springy. (*the version without the baking soda tends to bake more quickly 45min - 1hr).
Remove the cake from the oven. Remove the springform mold and the upper parchment and allow the cake to cool, before removing the base and the bottom parchment and transfer it to a serving plate. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick and allow the cake to cool.
While the cake cools, place the water, instant coffee (I use a decaffeinated free trade brand that has a lovely rich flavor), sugar, brandy/whiskey, star anise and cinnamon stick into a small sauce pot. Heat over a medium flame until the volume has reduced by 1/2.
Drizzle half of the syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in. Hold the rest in reserve for for serving.
When you are ready to serve the cake, cut into 6-8 slices. Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream (whipped coconut cream), a little powdered sugar, a piece of star anise and/or a little extra syrup and enjoy.