I’m lucky to have a plentiful supply of free walnuts from the tree in my mum’s garden. When we were little my brother and I used to spend hours climbing in its leafy branches and building forts. We never had bountiful crops, partly due to the warm winters (most trees need a good cold spell every year in order to crop well the next) and partly because of the pesky squirrel which delighted in stealing the unripe nuts. In recent years we’ve had snowy winters and the squirrel seems to have gone to the nut tree in the sky. Net result: lots of walnuts!
I’ve been working my way through a huge bowl that’s been sitting on my dining table for the last few months and finally finished them by making this cake. Having cracked so many shells only to find a shriveled-up little wisp of a nut I’m starting to see the logic in buying them ready shelled! But the effort and mess was worth it when I settled down for a cup of tea and a slice of this light, nutty cake drenched in an orange and honey syrup.
I’m a big fan of any drizzle cake, the syrup keeps the crumb moist and you can play around with all sorts of flavour combinations. Sweet tea over a fruit cake, amaretto over a pear cake; I’m planning to have a go at a tres leches cake in the near future. I felt that orange would work well with the walnut sponge; one recipe I liked recommended adding brandy but unfortunately the cupboard was bare. In its absence I used a glug of my beloved Campari which provides a fantastic marmalade-like bitter tang.
Walnut and bitter orange drizzle cake
Makes 1 x 20cm (8″) square cake
- 115g butter
- 75g caster sugar
- 25g soft brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 115g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 150g walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 orange
- 115g honey
- 2 tbsp Campari or bitter orange liqueur
Pre-heat your oven to 190°C (375°F) and grease and line a 20cm (8″) square cake tin.
In a medium bowl beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves.
Add two eggs and half the flour mix to the butter and beat until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining eggs and flour then fold in the walnuts.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and risen.
While the cake bakes, zest and juice the orange. Measure the amount of juice and make up to 150ml (2/3 cup) with water. Heat the honey, juice and zest and simmer for 6 minute until thickened and syrupy. Stir in the Campari.
Leaving the cake in the tin, prick the top and pour over the orange syrup. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least 4 hours.