Friday, January 9, 2015

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!


Delizioso!


15 comments:

momof2boyz said...

Looks delicious, can't wait to try this!! Now I know what to do with the 5lb bag of unshelled walnuts that's sitting in my pantry. I was reading through the ingredients and I think you left out the sugar.

Stacey Snacks said...

mom of 2,

thank you for noticing!
I corrected the recipe to 1 cup sugar.

Stacey

Ciao Chow Linda said...

This cake looks fantastic, and I especially love the way you decorated it. I've got a freezer full of walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts. I wonder how it would taste like with a combo of nuts? Or if I'd have to alter the cooking time? I'll let you know.

Bebe said...

A friend (Southern) who knows about pecans says they will hold in good condition in the freezer for five years.

I keep other nuts - walnuts, almonds - in the freezer. Should be very securely wrapped to keep out any odors that might be present. Their quality does not seem to suffer.

Great-sounding cake. Love stuff like this... Walnuts are so good in cakes and breads. Hazelnuts would be dreamy, too, IMO.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Honestly this is one of the prettiest cakes you've made, love how you decorated it and the fool proof recipe from Domenica. I'm pinning this for when I can eat cake again or a special occasion. Love it!

Lizzy (Good Things) said...

Hello Stacey, found you via Domenica... just wanted to say hello and wow, what a cake!

Patsy said...

Cake AND wine??? Time to fire up the oven.

sharon santoni at my french country home said...

One of my very favourite cakes is coffee and walnut - LOVE it! and I also love your spoon and fork decorations :)
xxx

domenicacooks said...

I love love love the way you decorated this Stacey. I'm copying you next time I make this cake. Thank you for the kind shout-out and I'm glad the cake worked out for you. I'm going to make it with walnuts next time. Then with almonds. Also, you are not alone in your fresh nut freakdom. I, too, am a freak about fresh nuts. I actually keep mine in containers (or unopened bags) in the freezer. They last a long time. Cheers friend!

Natalia B said...

Yummy! Can't wait to try this recipe the next time I have a girls' lunch. I usually volunteer to bring the dessert. Especially love the way you decorated it! :)

Martha L. said...

Love nuts and will definitely make this amazingly looking cake. Any way to PIN it?

Anonymous said...

I made this on Sunday and boy oh boy was it a big hit! I only had a 10" pan so mine was not as high as yours but it was absolutely delicious. My husband was thrilled. I will definitely make it again and again and again. Thank you.

Oui Chef said...

This beauty is SO up my alley, and I love your stencil work, Stacey. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Stacey,

This cake is thee prettiest cake I have ever seen, very rustic and unique. I love , love italian cake receipes and love to bake. Cannot wait to make this one!! Thanks. Love your blog.

Michele

Anonymous said...

Stacey,

OK , I made the prettiest cake ever last night for my parents anniversary and it was outrageous!! Received so many compliments and it was so moist!
The nut oil really enhances the flavor.
A very impressive cake!
Thank you so much.

Michele