Celebrity chef Simon Bryant has created a very special recipe for Honey Money Days 2013. If you’d like to organise an event for Honey Money Days, click here for more information.
Walnut and honey syrup cake
(Recipe from the book Simon Bryant’s Vegies by Simon Bryant & photography by Alan Benson, published by Lantern, rrp $39.99)
I have made a habit of surrounding myself with people who have the culinary skills that I lack. Not only do I find this inspiring, but it’s also pretty damn useful seeing as I have two left hands when it comes to baking and pastry work! I am really not a cake person, so when I find a recipe that requires very little skill to achieve a spectacular result, I am pretty happy. This one comes from my assistant on The Cook and The Chef, Steph the Chef. Even if she weren’t one of the loveliest people around (which she is), I would tolerate her as a friend just to rob her of her excellent pastry skills!
I like this cake because, despite being outrageously sweet, it’s not just
a pile of fluff and sugar. It has great texture and body from the walnuts and breadcrumbs. A lot of packaged walnut meal is fairly unimpressive and the oils can turn rancid quite quickly. I prefer to lightly roast whole walnuts, then rub off the skins and coarsely grind the nuts. Likewise, homemade breadcrumbs will taste so much better than the bought stuff, which always reminds me of sand. A couple of half-sized day-old baguettes will do the job. I rarely trim the crusts, and I prefer a slightly coarse grind to give the cake some decent texture.
Ingredients (serves 12)
380g walnuts, to make 3 cups (360g) ground walnuts
9 free-range eggs
200g granulated sugar
2 cups (140g) breadcrumbs from 2 small day-old baguettes
80g chopped toasted walnuts
2 cinnamon sticks
Juice of one lemon
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). To make the ground walnuts, roast the 380 g of walnuts for 10–12 minutes, giving them an occasional stir. Leave to cool, then use a tea towel to rub off the skins. Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until they’re breadcrumb-sized. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C fan-forced (220°C conventional).
2 To make the syrup, place the sugar and 3 cups (750 ml) of water in
a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon and lemon juice, then turn up the heat and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, fold in the honey and allow the syrup to cool at room temperature. Discard the cinnamon and set the syrup aside.
3 Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until they’re thick and pale. Turn off the mixer and add the sugar and brandy, then mix at a lower speed to incorporate. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in the walnut meal and breadcrumbs and combine well. (Alternatively, put a paddle on the mixer and run for a minute or two at low speed.)
4 Grease a 20 cm square cake tin and line it with baking paper. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin (it should be about 8 cm deep). Bake for
30–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven but leave it in the tin.
Placing the cake tin over a baking tray to catch any drips, gradually pour the cooled syrup all over the hot cake. You may not need all of the syrup, but allow the cake to take in as much as it will absorb. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the chopped toasted walnuts. Allow the syrup to soak in and set for an hour or so before slicing and serving the cake.