Friday, November 27, 2015

Chocolate Buttercake with Walnuts


Well, it has reached that time of year again, it feels as if Christmas is just around the corner. It’s that time when we tackle the various baking challenges that the festive period has to offer. For today´s festive bake, I’ve had a go at an alltime favorite of mine with a rather nice twist, a Chocolate Butter Cake with Walnuts. Think of this cake as basically a cross between a Dutch boterkoek and chocolate shortbread. Crunchy sides, soft, slightly chewy middle and incredibly rich and quite indulgent at this time of year.




To be honest, I don’t think you can properly enjoy the festive seasons if you don’t spend part of it in the kitchen with the aromas of spices and chocolate and citrus filling the air, using every pot, pan, bowl, whisk and sieve, not to mention all those cake molds, cookie cutters etc.




This is a nice cake to bake in a square cake pan or a round one if you prefer. With so few ingredients, it does require some good butter but also some high-quality cocoa powder for a really indulgent, chocolatey taste. So, for the best dark and velvety cocoa powder, try shops that specialize in fine chocolates or look out for your favorite good-quality brand - for the best tasting cake with a dark, rich color, I recommend you use Dutch process cocoa powder.




Chocolate Buttercake with Walnuts

Ingredients for the Cake
  • 250 g butter, unsalted, room temperature (plus some to butter the cake pan)
  • 250 g light brown sugar (such as Billington´s Light Muscovado Sugar or use Dutch "Lichte Basterd Suiker")
  • 1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla sugar (use the best you can afford)
  • 2 egg (L), organic or free range
  • 210 g AP (plain) flour
  • 40 g Dutch process cocoa powder (choose a very good-quality cocoa powder)
  • a generous pinch of fine sea salt
  • 80 g freshly cracked walnuts NOTE: you could use hazelnuts instead of walnuts, though you should toast them first, then rub off their skins before using)
  • vanilla ice-cream, double cream or lightly whipped cream to serve (optional)

In Addition
  • a square cake pan (about 24 x24 cm/9.5 x 9.5 inches)
  • baking parchment




Preparation Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Butter your cake pan, line the base and sides with baking parchment, then butter again.
  3. Put the butter into the bowl of a food mixer, add the sugar and vanilla sugar and cream for a good 5 minutes until soft and fluffy.
  4. Break the egg into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork to combine. With the beater at a moderate speed, add the egg to the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa powder and sea salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until thoroughly creamed.
  7. Mix in the walnuts.
  8. Transfer the mixture to the lined cake pan, gently smoothing the surface flat.
  9. In a asmall bowl, break up the egg, and brush the surface oft he cake.
  10. Then score the surface with the tines of a fork.
  11. Put in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is firm to the touch.
  12. Transfer to a rack and leave to cool before turning out and slicing. Servet he cake on the day it was made. Any leftover cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic and kept for up to 2 days.




The moistness of the cake will depend not just on the addition of all that good butter (this is a butter cake after all), but how long you bake it. Short of the delicate moment when you mix it all together, it is the baking time that is truly make or break. What you are looking for is the moment, somewhere between 35 and 40 minutes, when your cake is crispy round the edge, but still a bit soft in the center. When baking this cake, please remember that when it comes out of the oven the cake should still be moist - sticky even - in the middle. As it cools the crust will crisp.




My perfect moment for such buttery, chocolatey goodness is in the afternoon, around 4 pm, when a nice piece or slice goes perfectly with a small, strong coffee. It acts as a pick-me-up, a little zip of energy to get you through till lunch or dinner. Or perhaps just through till your next piece of chocolate cake.




Since it is the season not only for showing off all your baked goods, but all your festive decorations and ornaments as well, I decided to bake teeny tiny gingerbread houses and let the kids decorate them while I rummaged through countless boxes searching for my treasured handcrafted wooden set of Hänsel and Gretel and the witch.  As I happily retrieved my heirloom figurines from all that tissue paper that they were wrapped in, the kids had put their final touches to the houses and they loved how it all looked  - the cake, the gingerbread houses, the powdered sugar snow and the little fairy tale figurines – not a bad start to the festive season.


17 comments:

  1. You sold me on the name alone Andrea but when I saw the delicious pictures it took it over the top!!Yum!

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    1. Chris, thank you kindly - I made this cake again today and we all agreed that we love it - simple yet incredibly indulgent, perfect for the busy season!

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  2. Your cake looks wonderful, and I love the little figurines! And I agree - there's nothing like the odor of fresh baking in the kitchen at Christmastime.

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    1. Beth, the little wooden figurines are a treasuredd heirloom of mine and very dear to me - they always get some extra special attention around Christmas time.
      And,yes, the cake is a total "must try" - fuss free and a chocolate lover´s dream!

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  3. Hello Andrea, Well this looks easy enough and quite delicious for a holiday baked good! Having just said good bye to our final guest yesterday, and 8 days in all of overnight guests ( a lot of meals) plus 18 for a sit down Thanksgiving Dinner using up nearly every dish, pan, and whisk, silver and glassware etc... well, I'm hardly in any condition to pull it all out today, and in any event am coordinating the decorations for my grandsons cross country banquet for Monday evening, marking the final of this marathon 13 weeks. I am looking forward to a bit of hibernation, and some quiet time baking along to some lovely Christmas music so I very much look forward to enjoying your recipe then! Thanks for sharing another wonderful treat!

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    1. Oh, dear Peggy, that sounds quite busy...wish I lived closer by, then I would most definitely come over to help with the cooking, baking, shopping for groceries and cleaning up...I do hope that you will find some peace and quiet soon and be able to bake a few of your (and/or my) favorite treats - there is a lot of Christmas recipes coming your way, I am afraid.
      Take good care of yourself - many hugs and hope you had a splendid Thanksgiving! I know the food was outstanding!
      Andrea

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  4. I can't wait to make this, dear friend! And I think I will use your alternate advice and add roasted hazelnuts! I have really come to love butter cakes through you, and my waistline is getting concerned! 😉 Wishing you, Thomas, and the girls a lovely Advent season! Liebe Grüße, David

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    1. Dear David, so wonderful to get all that positive feedback from you!!! Butter cakes are a present obsession of mine and I decided that my waistline is getting a break over the holidays...too many treats I can´t resist...
      Dir und Mark eine wundervolle Adventszeit!
      Andrea & Co.

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  5. ***I don’t think you can properly enjoy the festive seasons if you don’t spend part of it in the kitchen with the aromas of spices and chocolate and citrus filling the air, using every pot, pan, bowl, whisk and sieve, not to mention all those cake molds, cookie cutters**

    I agree! I love that sentence, darling, and I love you! xx

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    1. Oh, dear Kim, thank you - not always easy for me to write in the English language but I am doing my best and I do find the festive season to be rather inspirational!

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  6. Hi Andrea, looks like you and your test tasters do holidays justice, love this cake and their ginger bread houses.

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    1. Cheri, we are doing our very best to do the holiday season justice as I bake and bake and try out new recipes and traditional family favorites - can´t wait for my December posts!

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  7. Der Kuchen sieht super saftig aus. Ist es richtig, dass der Kuchen ohne Backpulver auskommt? Das gefaellt mir, denn Backpulver veraendert den Geschmack von Gebäck.... Um das Grüppchen Holzfiguren beneide ich dich sehr. Unsere Erzgebirgesammlung ist schon recht umfangreich, aber Haensel und Gretel mit Hexe habe ich noch nie irgendwo gesehen... Die kleinen Knusperhaeuschen sind allerliebst <3 Eine wunderschoene Adventszeit! Uebrigens ist mein Spekulatius sehr gut gelungen, auch wenn ich mit den Modeln kaempfen musste...

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    1. Liebe Wally, ja, der Kuchen kommt gänzlich ohne Backpulver aus - ich habe ein Rezept für einen traditionellen holländischen Butterkuchen genommen und mit Kakao und Nüssen experimentiert - dabei ist dieses Rezept herausgekommen, einfach nur lecker und wenn man den "Garpunkt" trifft, dann bleibt er auch saftig, darf ruhig noch ein wenig weich in der Mitte sein. Das Set von Hänsel und Gretel ist ein heiß geliebtes Erbstück, dass ich bis jetzt auch nicht mehr finden konnte - denn ich suche schon lange ein neues Set zum Verschenken - so viele haben danach gefragt. Und gestern war ich auf dem Erzgebirgischen Weihnachtsmarkt in Bonn suchen, kein Glück, leider. Die Model für Spekulatius machen mir auch jedes Jahr wieder zu schaffen, kaum zu glauben, wie störrisch Teig doch sein kann.
      Ich wünsche euch einen wunderschönen 1. Advent heute!
      Liebe Grüße,
      Andrea

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  8. Andrea, maybe we would call these brownies. They have the same look and you want them moist and sticky when pulled out of the oven. You're so right about the high, good quality, cocoa power... Dutch. I have always believed it's always about the ingredients but even more so now that I am baking so much. Your precious wooden set is perfect as is the mini-gingerbread house. Well done, ladies.

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    1. Dear Hirsch, nope, these are most definitely not brownies - those are baked with melted chocolate, some baking powder (most of the time) and have a crisp surface when baked - this, on th eother hand, is a Dutch recipe for boterkoek with added chocoalte and fresh walnuts - that`s all - but no matter which way you call it, it is delicious and rather enjoyable!

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  9. Andrea - your posts put me in the holiday spirit :-)

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