Torta di Noci: Italian Walnut Cake
I've never met a nut I didn't like.
I love nuts.
I am nuts, and that's maybe why.
Torta di Noci is a dense, Italian walnut cake using fresh nuts from the tree.
Yeah, good luck with that. I don't have a walnut tree.
I am a freak about the freshness of nuts.
Did you know that nuts go rancid very quickly? It's true.
They are very oily and can spoil rather quickly, so don't store them opened in the cabinet for months, you will find them to have a bad smell and taste.
Instead, I like to store them in my refrigerator. I have a separate nut drawer.
See, I told you I was nuts. (you can also store nuts in the freezer with good results).
I have made this type of nut cake/torte numerous times, but each time I had a problem.
The torta fell apart once and was all cracked in the middle, and another time, it was so wet and dense that I couldn't serve it (though they both tasted delicious).
The problem was that the nuts were ground too fine, and they became more of a paste.
One Italian baker recommended I grate the nuts by hand on a cheese grater.
Now there is a project I am not interested in doing.
Domenica to the rescue.
Evidently, other people had problems baking this cake too (especially with all the European metric measures.......a scale is good for baking, which I don't have).
Domenica made this cake w/ hazelnuts and perfected the recipe for us by lightening up the batter, using less nuts and more whipped egg whites.
I knew I would be safe baking this cake.
I did not grate my nuts to a powder or meal, instead kept them in tiny pieces.
This is the most delicious cake you will ever eat. Perfect w/ wine or coffee.
One of my new favorites.
Torta di Noci (adapted from Domenica Cooks):
2 1/2 cups of walnuts (or hazelnuts), lightly toasted
1 stick of melted butter (8 tbsp); or 6 tbsp of melted butter w/ 2 tbsp walnut oil (which is what I used)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp of baking powder
pinch of salt
confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F.
Coat a 9" springform cake pan with about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and coat the parchment with butter. Set the remaining melted butter aside.
Process the cooled toasted nuts in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until they are ground (I kept mine course, not finely ground). Don't let them get pasty. Transfer them to a bowl and stir in the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks and sugar. Drizzle in the remaining melted butter (or melted butter and nut oil, if using), a little at a time, mixing all the while, until the butter has been fully incorporated.
Using a silicone spatula, stir the walnut-flour mixture into the egg yolk-butter mixture.
In a cold bowl, beat the egg white to form stiff peaks.
Mix in 1/4 cup of the egg white mixture, to loosen up the batter, then carefully, fold in the rest of the whites.
The batter will be thick but spreadable. Using the silicone spatula, spread batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden. Let rest 30 minutes in the cake tin, then unmold the sides.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!