Walnut, Pecan & Cranberry Cake

A few years ago on my birthday I visited the Cape Town Good Food Show where I was fortunate to meet Gordon Ramsay. Gosh, as I sit here listening to the washing machine whirring away in the background, princess stickers strewn on the floor under my desk and my baby boy napping down the passage, going to shows and meeting celebs seems like another lifetime! Gordon was doing a book signing and this is where I picked up a copy of “World Kitchen”. The book is a collection of recipes from all over the world including France, China and America. It is one my favourites in my collection and everything I have tried so far has been delicious.



Today’s recipe is adapted from a walnut cake recipe I found in the Greek chapter of the book, and I have posted it with Valentine’s Day in mind. This is a very moist, very sweet and fragrant cake. The addition of brandy definitely makes this more of a grown-up treat, and I am tempted to call it a dessert as it is fairly rich too. Gordon suggests serving it with Greek yoghurt to balance out the sweetness, some cream or even vanilla bean ice-cream would do quite nicely too.Whether you want to spoil a loved one, or yourself, this would make a great Valentine’s Day treat. I hope it will be a special day for each and every one of you! x  

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WALNUT, PECAN & CRANBERRY CAKE

Serves 6-8

50g dried cranberries
3 tbsp brandy
100g walnuts
100g pecans
35g white breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
90g castor sugar
20g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
icing sugar to dust (optional)

For the syrup:

125g castor sugar
150ml cranberry juice or water
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 190°C. Line a 23cm cake tin with baking paper and grease well. (A springform tin works best if you have one.) 

Step 2.) Place the cranberries in a small bowl and pour the brandy over them. Set aside to soak. 

Step 3.) Place 75g each of the walnuts and pecans in a food processor along with the breadcrumbs, cinnamon, cloves and castor sugar. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Whizz until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency. 

Step 4.) Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peak stage. Place the egg yolks in a different bowl with the orange juice and zest. Strain the cranberries and place the brandy with the egg yolks. Whisk until smooth. 

Step 5.) Tip the flour mixture into a large bowl and add the soaked cranberries. Add the egg yolk mixture and fold in. Then add the whisked egg whites and use a large metal spoon to carefully fold these in until everything is combined. 

Step 6.) Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 

Step 7.) While the cake is in the oven prepare the syrup. Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain into a jug just before the cake comes out of the oven. 

Step 8.) Use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake after you take it out of the oven. Roughly chop the remaining walnuts and pecans and sprinkle these on top. Pour the cooled syrup all over the cake. Leave the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin and slicing. (Optional: dust the cake with icing sugar but be sure to do this just before serving.)

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