Italian Walnut Cake

Here’s a fun fact you can remind yourself next time you think I’m cool: my first job was at the local public library and I loved it. All I did was shelve books for 10 hours a week (at $5.93/hour), but I worked with the coolest group of people and I loved the hell out of that job. Anyway, one day I was complaining to the youngest person on the full-time staff (and possibly the coolest person I’ve ever known) about not knowing what to write a paper for my AP European History about, and she said ‘duh, Eurovision.’

Knowing nothing about this, I asked her if that was a TV channel and was duly educated: Eurovision is a song contest that happens every year in Europe where each country sends their best act to sing against all the other countries to win… I’m pretty sure they just win bragging rights and maybe the right to hold the next Eurovision in their own country? I can’t remember if I ended up writing the paper on Eurovision- in a world without Youtube, finding performances to watch stateside was a drag, but I couldn’t stop reading about it; I was hooked.

If you’re not familiar, there’s a whole sea of weird nuances to Eurovision that I don’t think a transplant to this continent can ever really grasp, but it’s like a game of Risk trying to figure out who will vote for who; each country gets points to allocate to each act but they all vote based on politics and past events, not actual merit, so the whole thing is a bit of a joke. France always takes it super seriously, but most other countries play up the camp value and know the whole thing is a bit of a joke. I always feel bad for the countries you know are going to lose (coughRussiacough) just because no one likes them, and there’s all these rules about not including anything political in your songs- but last year the Ukraine sneaked in a pretty political song and still won, so this year they hosted and it was awesome.

Judson and I planned a night in around Eurovision on Saturday night: a cheese & charcuterie plate with representation from as many countries as we could think of, cocktails from Italy and Russia, printed ballots to allocate our own points to, fully-charged phones to live-tweet as needed. It was a blast- we stayed up until the wee hours screaming at the TV when the points weren't going in our favour, snacking on all kinds of treats and snuggling with the dog when things were boring. Moldova should have won but they were totally robbed, but it was still a blast and I'm already counting down the weeks until Eurovision 2018 in Portugal.

We may have overindulged on the Moscow Mules a bit, though- this morning was a little rough so I was glad I thought ahead and prepped this Italian Walnut Cake for us to munch on this morning with our (very hot, very black) coffee. A little hair of the dog and all that. I know I'm always over here promoting the idea of cake-for-breakfast, and while I don't regret it, I also don't want it to be assumed that all I eat is cake. However, I really don't know what else you'd do with this cake. It's not sweet enough to be really desirable as a dessert, and it's too hearty to be served after a meal. Rum notwithstanding, the rest of the ingredients are basically the same as what you'd put into a breakfast bread, so I stand by having it for breakfast- especially on the morning after a celebration of all things European like we had this weekend.

The verdict:

3 spoons out of five. It kicked our hangovers in the teeth and had us feeling better by lunchtime, but it was a bit dry and falls into that 'not-sweet-enough-for-dessert-but-sweet-enough-that-I-feel-guilty-eating-it-for-breakfast' category. It's definitely an old-fashioned type of cake, the sort of thing that would probably be great to make next time you have family coming to visit.

One year ago: Fried Chicken & German Potato Salad
two years ago: Oatmeal Toffee Lace Cookies (still a favourite in the RBP kitchen!) 

the recipe:

Italian Walnut Cake

the directions:

Grease a 9-inch round layer cake pan with 1 tbsp (14 g) of the butter.
Place oven rack in the bottom half of the oven and preheat to 175C/350F.
Chop walnuts very fine but do not reduce to a paste, then set aside.
Sift together flour & baking powder, then set aside.
Beat remaining butter and sugar.
Add egg, rum and lemon zest to sugar mixture and beat until blended.
Stir in the walnuts, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Gradually stir in the flour mixture, mixing thoroughly.
Turn into prepared pan, leveling the top with a spatula.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out clean and cake is well-browned, about 35-40 minutes.
Place on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes before loosening edges and turning out, then allow to cool completely right side up.
Store overnight in a tightly sealed airtight container to allow the flavours to come together completely before serving.

the ingredients:

½ c (113 g) butter, softened
8 oz walnuts
1 c flour, sifted
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2/3 c sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp rum
1 tbsp lemon zest