09 August 2015

Frosted Walnut Cake

Mary Berry has some questions to answer. Like, what was she thinking... ??

Now I don't want to put you off this bake or colour your opinion of "boiled icing", but let's call a spade a spade.

It sucked.

Or maybe I sucked at making it. But I followed her directions to the letter, and it just didn't work out. I am assuming it was to be like Martha's 7 minute frosting but it just never got there. I assume it was supposed to be soft and fluffy and marshmallow gooey. But it just wasn't.

The sugar ration I am thinking was just way too high. There wasn't enough liquid for it. And I kept beating, wishful thinking willing it to work but...

But it didn't.

It brought me back to my own days on the Bake Off where I look like a deer caught in headlights, expecting something to work and it just going... nope, nope, nope, not today!

The walnut cake, while wonderfully nutty, light and moist was an overall disappointing experience. The "boiled icing" outer shell, because lets face it, that's what it turned out like, was just awful. I should have just left the cake alone. It's a great recipe. Soft and fluffy, packed with yummy walnuts. 

I should have went with my gut when it wasn't working out and dumped it. A rich coffee buttercream would have set this cake over the top. But nooooo... I had to stay on form. Pedantic or what like!?

I don't have to do what Bake Off judges tell me anymore.. I am a big girl baker and can make my own decisions now!

The following recipe is an adaptation of  Mary Berry's Frosted Walnut Cake, the technical challenge on Episode One of the Great British Bake Off 2015. 

The Sponges:
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g walnuts, chopped
225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs 

Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Grease three 8inch cake tins and line the base of each tin with baking paper.
Pop your walnuts into the oven for 5 minutes to toast up and bring out that super nutty flavour.
Mix the flour, baking powder and walnuts together in a bowl. 
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in an egg a little at a time. Wait until the yolk of the first egg is gone before adding the next.
Fold in the flour mixture using a large metal spoon until fully combined. 
Divide the mixture equally between the 3 tins.

The Caramelised Walnuts:
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons of water
10 walnut halves

Put the sugar and 2 tablespoons water into a pan and heat over a low heat until the sugar begins to melt. 
Increase the heat and cook the caramel to a dark golden colour. 
Remove the pan from the heat, swirl the walnuts halves in the caramel to coat them. 
Transfer the walnut halves to a silicon sheet and leave to set.

The Vanilla Buttercream: (use your favourite recipe)

Spread half of the buttercream over one of the cooled sponges and place the second sponge on top. Spread the remaining buttercream over the second sponge and top with the third sponge.

(TIP: Do not go all the way to the edges on the cake. When I put on my boiled icing, any buttercream that had ran to the edges melted and became part of the icing, leaving a nice yellow ring in my snow white boiled icing!!)

Stupid hot, boiled icing.

The Boiled Icing: but I really don't know why you would bother!

2 large egg whites
4 tablespoons of water
350g caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Put the egg whites, sugar, 4 tablespoons water and cream of tartar into a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water and whisk for 8-10 minutes until thick.
Working quickly once you take it off the heat, because this icing sets fast, cover the top and sides of the cake.
Leave to set in a cool place, but not in the fridge. 
Decorate with the caramelised walnuts.

If you are looking for cake and bakes that did work out.. along with a brilliant array of choices and recipes, why not pop on over to the amazing Jenny from Mummy Mishaps! There are a host of amazing bloggers baking along to this years Great British Bake Off.

Mummy Mishaps


  1. If that is a disaster, I hate to see a success ;) it looks amazing and, while I'm not too much of q walnut fan, I would not be saying no to a slice of this

  2. i think you are being very hard on yourself and your bake - but I respect your honesty . It looks fabulous to me, and I love your photos :)
    better luck with biscuits then???
    thank you for linking up xx

  3. Such a shame about the icing. I think I tried something similar once, maybe about 10 years ago, and it just would not come together. The recipe said it would be marshmallow-y and fluffy but mine was a gloopy mess. Never tried it again!

    At least the sponge cakes look lovely! They'd be yummy with coffee or maple syrup icing.

  4. It looks delicious but when I saw them making it on gbbo I did think it was a strange icing for a walnut cake. And I bet it was a five -bowl affair, right?

    Love your new blog Hazel, it's gorgeous. Xx

  5. I haven't had a walnut cake in so long, your recipe sounds delightful

  6. It doesn't look a disaster to me, it looks lovely. So what if it's not perfect I'm sure it tasted fine xx

  7. It looks very tasty to me, not sure I would,have success with that frosting either

  8. I was going to say the icing looks great! The cake in general looks yummy

  9. Seriously Hazel... That looks so delicious!!!
    I would volunteer to be your personal taste tester!!
    (I'm pretty sure the Mr. in the house has that job :)
    Have a great weekend!
    Tammy x


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