Espresso and Walnut Cake (Project 1509114)

Monday, September 14, 2015

If you're wondering what all those numbers in the Project stand for ... oh ... you're not? You figured it out? ... Nice! ... But why call it a project? Well, if I have to plan it, prepare for it, and lose some sleep over it, it becomes a project. Almost all of the content ... er, culinary treats, you see on the blog came about while I was rummaging through the pantry. These cakes, on the other hand, need to be planned. And that is why they are projects. Invariably, my projects are usually celebration cakes. And most definitely, they will have taken more than one session in my miniscule kitchen. Besides, it gives me more satisfaction to check off a project that is done, than to just declare that 'dinner is ready'.

Monique's cake is a coffee themed one. She had an Espresso Cake last year. And an Espresso Chiffon Cake the year before. And ... as a school project she made Mocha Cake. Oh wow! For someone who gets dizzy after drinking coffee, she sure loves it in her cakes. And insists on a shot of Kahlua in them for good measure. I love coffee in my cakes as well, and I'm always happy to indulge. I've already lined up another Mocha Nougat Cake for her next year ;)

I loved that huge chocolate screen sitting on her cake. It was like a canvas... an installation ... and Joy went gaga decorating it. Clearly we were going Salvador Dali on her cake.

This cross section was taken the day after and this baby remained intact. This cake is sassy, yet sturdy, even with the humongous Dali-esque chocolate on it. This recipe is a keeper! Just look at those pretty little layers ;)

Espresso Cake

Scant 2 cups (225g) cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups (150 ml) milk
1-1/2 cups (150 ml) vegetable oil
12 large (375 ml) egg whites
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
12 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (75 g) sugar

1. Prepare 2 9-inch pans by greasing, flouring, and then lining it with parchment paper on the bottom.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and the vegetable oil. Set this aside.
3. In another small bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder. Set aside as well.

4. Preheat your oven to 325F.
5. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until it all turns frothy.
6. Add the sugar, cream of tartar and the salt and keep on whisking until soft peaks form. Remove from the stand mixer and set this aside.

7. With a fresh bowl and the paddle attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
8. To this, alternate adding the flour and milk mixture.
9. Gently fold in the egg whites, taking care not to overmix and deflate it. God forbid!
10. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
11. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
12. Optional: Brush a little coffee liqueur on the surface for an even more intense coffee aroma.

Coffee Walnut Cake
... a recipe adapted from Nigella's to make 2 9-inch layers.

75 grams walnut pieces
1-1/2 cups (340 g) caster sugar, separated
2-1/2 cups (340 g) softened butter
2-1/2 cups (300 g) flour
6 tsp instant espresso powder
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
6 large eggs (or 4 eggs and 5 yolks)
2- 3 tbsp milk

1. Prepare 2 9-inch pans by greasing, flouring, and then lining it with parchment paper on the bottom.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a food processor, blitz the walnut with 1/2 cup of the sugar until it resembles coarse crumbs.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with 1 cup of the sugar.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time.
6. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 350F.

7. Reduce the speed to the lowest, then fold in the flour mix, then the crushed walnuts, adding that bit of milk to thin it out as needed.
8. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake has risen and turned golden. It also needs to pass the skewer test.
9. Cool in the rack for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely.
10. Again optional: Coffee liqueur on the cake tops makes it more decadent.

Frost with Italian meringue buttercream and decorate to your inner Gaudi ...

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