Have you ever had an idea of what a food tastes like before you've ever tasted it and then when you actually taste it, you're exactly right? This happens to me all the time. It's a gift, I think.
I was listening to a podcast about walnuts a few weeks ago and decided that I absolutely must buy (read: order from Amazon like everything else I own) and bake with some black walnuts . . . these elusive little nuts, very popular in The South, that taste so unlike English walnuts but with the exact same texture. They taste almost like a liquer, somehow both sweet and bitter at the same time.
I decided (before I tasted them, of course) that black walnut cake would be delightful filled with some apple butter. Thankfully, my friend Joy handed me a jar of homemade apple butter last week and then there was cake . . . cake that is delicious and weird and perfect for breakfast with some very bitter coffee.
Black Walnut Cake with Apple Butter
makes one 2-layer 6" round cake
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup muscovado sugar (or 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar)
1 whole egg, plus 1 egg white, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
1/2 (scant) teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped black walnuts (do NOT use English walnuts)
1/2 cup apple butter
powdered sugar for sprinkling, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 6" cake pans and dust with rice flour.
In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add the egg yolk and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add applesauce and mix just until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to bowl of mixer and mix just until combined. Add buttermilk and mix until smooth. Remove bowl from mixer.
In a separate (and very clean) bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Add to the cake batter and fold in slowly until mixture is uniform. Carefully fold in walnuts.
Divide cake batter between prepared pans and smooth the top gently. Bake 20-25 minutes until cake springs back when poked. Let cake cool 10-15 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
When cakes cool completely, level one of the cakes and place on a plate. Spread the apple butter over the top and place the other cake layer carefully on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
Cake will keep fresh, covered and refrigerated, for 3-4 days. Serve at room temperature.