May 2, 2012

Happy Day Walnut Cake

I'm a bit of a cake snob.

It took me about 25 years to realize it, but it's true.

When we go out to eat, I always get excited about the dessert tray. Most times, my eyes are drawn to the chocolate cake, always so dark & covered in plenty of frosting, but when I get it, it rarely lives up to my expectations. It's always either too dry, not chocolatey enough, or just mediocre all around. So now, I try to remember that & order something different. Or just go for ice cream. That's always a safe bet.

This cake ranks in the "something different" category. The walnut cake recipe is a traditional one that my mom gave me from her recipe cards. I believe she got it from her mom, who got it from hers, etc., so I'm not sure of the origin. I just know it's good! Mommom always served it with a fluffy white frosting & stored it in her silver cake carrier.

I found an identical carrier at our church rummage sale & just had to buy it. I love using it because it always reminds me of Mommom's cakes.

Poppop's birthday (85 years!) was on Saturday, so Mom invited my grandparents & us over for dinner on Sunday to celebrate. I offered to make the cake, & Mom said he loves walnut cake, so she shared the recipe. I'm not a fan of the fluffy frosting that's the norm, so I went a different route & made rhubarb frosting.

I love the way the flavors blend together. The hint of rhubarb cuts the sweetness of the frosting & compliments the nutty flavors in the cake. The first time I tried the frosting, it was on rhubarb cupcakes. That was good, but this was great!


Happy Day Walnut Cake
Recipe from Mom's Archives, adapted very slightly
Serves 10-12

1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c white whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/3 c sugar
1/2 c non-hydrogenated shortening
1 c almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 organic eggs
1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375*F. Grease and flour two 8" round pans. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add shortening and mix. Once combined (mixture should be crumbly), add 1/2 of the milk, the vanilla, and 1 egg. Beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining milk and egg. Beat another 2 minutes. Gently fold in walnuts. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until bake pulls away from the edges of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on cooling racks before icing.

Rhubarb Frosting
Adapted from Food Doodles

1/2 c organic butter, softened
1 c pureed raw rhubarb, cooked until reduced by half & cooled
5 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, rhubarb puree, and vanilla together to combine.  In 1 cup increments, add the powdered sugar until the frosting is thick and smooth.  Depending on how wet your rhubarb is, you many need to add addtional sugar.


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