Maria Helm Sinsky is probably best known by home chefs for her renowned cookbook, The Vineyard Kitchen, in which she shares her sophisticated yet homey approach to home cooking. But what most of her home cooking fans don't know about Sinsky is that in addition to her vast experience as a chef in several Michelin starred restaurants and now the chef behind her husband’s winery, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, she is also a classically trained pastry chef.
In this honey walnut cake recipe, Sinsky shows you how to create a simple, yet delicious dessert. Ground walnuts and fresh orange zest are the stars of this easy 1-layer cake garnished with honeyed walnuts. The walnuts are toasted to bring out even more of their nutty flavor.
- 1½ cups walnut pieces
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 10 nice walnut halves and 2 tablespoons honey for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). While oven is preheating, butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
- Spread the walnut pieces on a sheet pan and toast in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Cool and rub the nuts in a towel to remove the loose skins.
- Grind the walnuts in a food processor with ½ cup of the flour until very fine. In a medium bowl, combine the ground nuts, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Reserve.
- In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the room temperature butter with the honey and sugar until light and fluffy, or about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mix.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the orange zest and vanilla. Add it in thirds to the butter mixture. Beat well to incorporate after each egg mixture addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, toast the ten walnut halves on a sheet pan for 8 minutes. While they are still warm rub the nuts in a towel to remove the excess skin and place them in a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of honey and stir until the walnuts are evenly coated. Reserve the walnut halves at room temperature to garnish the cake when it is finished.
- When baked, remove the cake from oven and set aside to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and before turning out onto a cake rack to cool completely. Garnish the edge of the cake with the walnut halves.
Recipe Source: by Maria Helm Sinskey (HarperCollins)
Reprinted with permission.