Walnut Cake – toasted walnut cake with hints of cinnamon, topped with a brown sugar buttercream and chopped walnuts. A new layer cake recipe by our contributor, Olivia Bogacki.
It’s official, we are in Holiday season! And I am 100% in holiday mode. I am totally one of those people who is happy to see holiday stuff out in October (don’t judge). I’m doing my best not to jump head first into holiday baking and throw peppermint and gingerbread at you while you’ve still got Halloween candy wrappers laying around. I will restrain myself… for a little while, anyhow.
So while this Walnut Cake isn’t holiday themed per se, it certainly screams Fall/Winter to me. There is something so comforting about the scents of cinnamon and toasted nuts at this time of year. You can bet that I’ve got some candied walnuts on my radar for this year’s holiday baking. So for now, I wanted to bring you a cake version of that delicious winter treat!
This Walnut Cake is very unassuming, but it is seriously delicious. The cake is not super sweet – the nuts tone down the sweetness – and it pairs really well with the sweet brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream.
This was my first time making a brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream, and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Sugar is sugar, right? It should work just fine (or so I reassured myself). Thankfully, it was delicious! It’s not as dark as I thought it would be, considering I used dark brown sugar, but it has a delicious caramel/toffee-like flavor. I’ll definitely be making this one again.
The recipe calls for toasted walnuts, and I highly recommend toasting nuts before using them. It really enhances the flavor. Ideally, you would toast whole, shelled walnuts, but I only had chopped walnuts on hand, so I just used those. Either way, when toasting nuts, be sure to watch them so that they don’t burn! I toast in a 350F oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until I can smell them (so scientific of me, I know!).
If you’re looking for an easy, delicious, comforting cake for the Fall and Winter season, this Walnut Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is for you!
Toasted walnut cake with hints of cinnamon, topped with a brown sugar buttercream and chopped walnuts.
- Yield: One 8" Round Cake (2 layers)
- Category: ✽ ✽ ✽ ✽
For the Cake:
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted)
For the Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
- 2 cups unsalted butter, cubed (room temperature)
- Pinch salt
For the Assembly:
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted) (optional)
Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour two 8″ cake rounds, line with parchment.
- Remove 1 tablespoon of flour and toss with walnuts in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk remaining flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
- Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla extract.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition. Stop mixing when you can still see a bit of flour unincorporated.
- Fold in chopped walnuts.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer*, whisk until combined.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer.
- Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch and the meringue is fluffy, glossy and holds a stiff peak.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, slowly add cubed butter and mix until incorporated.
- Add salt and whip on medium-high until silky and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.**
Assemble the Cake:
- Place one layer of cake onto a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 1 cup of buttercream and spread evenly.
- Repeat with remaining layer and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Frost the cake and smooth the sides and top. Use an icing comb on the sides or do a swirl, if desired. Place back in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.
- Gently press chopped walnuts along the bottom and top edge of cake if desired.
- Pipe rosettes on the top using an open star tip with the leftover frosting, if desired.
- * Ensure there is NO trace of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk are completely grease free or your meringue may not whip up.
- ** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.