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Walnut and olive oil cake

PUBLISHED: 05:21 01 December 2014

Walnut and Olive Oil Cake
November 2014.

Step by Step dish prepared by Richard Hughes from the Lavender House at Brundall.

Picture: James Bass

Walnut and Olive Oil Cake November 2014. Step by Step dish prepared by Richard Hughes from the Lavender House at Brundall. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

This month’s recipe is one of those that can truly be described as fail-safe. You can tweak the recipe to hazelnuts or pistachios, replace the olive oil with rapeseed oil if you wish and the results will still be a delight.

The Great British baking phenomenon shows no sign of faltering, particularly here in Norfolk, with much delight when we discovered that Mary Berry’s ancestor used to own a bakery for over 40 years here in the centre of Norwich in the 1800s, supplying some 800 loaves of bread daily to the workhouses as well as the waifs and strays of Ber Street.

The bakery market is now worth some £3.4bn, with ingredients, gadgets and high-tech kit all adding to the total. It seems a pastel power mixer, sugar thermometer and croquembouche mould has replaced the sandwich toaster, mincer and pressure cooker on most wedding lists!

People are incredibly passionate about baking, almost too much so, with quivering bottom lips, salty tears and shaky piping hands all adding to the cake mix. It’s almost as if we are baking, piping and icing our way to some sort of culinary breakdown. I’m thinking of converting my patio into a “chill out zone”, such is the worry when making a loaf!

The bread, chocolate and baking classes at the cookery school are by far and away the most requested; I also think they are some of the most relaxing, despite the histrionics that accompany the culinary competitions on the TV. I’m just not sure cooking and competitiveness go together, particularly when baking a cake or a loaf of bread, it should be all about the giving and the sharing, not a form of edible one upmanship.

This month’s recipe is one of those that can truly be described as fail-safe. You can tweak the recipe to hazelnuts or pistachios, replace the olive oil with rapeseed oil if you wish and the results will still be a delight. As thoughts turn to the looming Christmas season, it has that festive feel to it with the walnuts, and is equally home with ice-cream, cream, a glass of Madeira or a cup of tea.

Walnut and olive oil cake

50g polenta

200g toasted walnuts

50g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

100ml olive oil

100g butter

3 eggs

200g castor sugar

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 160C

1 Process the toasted walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.

2 Add the polenta, flour, sugar and baking powder.

3 Add the eggs.

4 Add the zest of the lemons.

5 Add the lemon juice.

6 Add the olive oil.

7 Beat the mixture well.

8 Add the melted but cooled butter.

9 Spoon into individual silicone cake moulds, or bake in a greased and floured tin 8ins cake tin.

Bake at 160C for 20 minutes for the individual cakes or 45 minutes for a whole loaf cake.

Rest in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on a cake rack.

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