Walnut cake with halva and almonds will satisfy cake and dessert lovers. This recipe is a variation on Ottolenghi’s recipe. The buttered walnuts and the almond halva in the interior characterize this special cake. So the cake brings a Middle Eastern touch to the table; a touch of rich and old civilizations.
The art of making this cake
If you have halva in your fridge, you need a good hour to make this cake. Otherwise, plan to make the halva at the least a day in advance. And for those of you who have never heard of halva I will explain. Halva is a mixture of honey or sugar and a nut butter (Middle East) or a mixture of flour with ghee and sugar (India, Pakistan, Nepal) . Here we describe the mixture of honey with a nut butter, mixed after honey is brought to its candy point. And the mixture needs over a day and a half to develop the sugar crystals. But the cake would be fine with the more sticky substance if you are pressed for time. The nut butter is traditionally tahin (sesame butter) or sunflower butter, but other nut butters could be used.
We will describe here how to make the halva. To make the tahin, see our recipe to make hummus.
- a (candy) thermometer for the halva making, unless you are experienced
- a loaf pan with the size of 10 by 6 inch (25 by 12 cm)
- grease proof paper
Ingredients to make the halva
- 1/3 cup tahin for the tahin see our hummus recipe
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/3 cup whole almonds
- pinch of salt
Ingredients to make the cake toppings
- 4 oz (120 g) walnuts
- 2 oz (60 g) unsalted butter
- 1 oz (25 g) dark sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon (ground)
- 5.5 oz (170 g) halva
Ingredients to make and bake the cake
- 3.5 oz (100 g) granular sugar
- 3 oz unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 7 oz (200 g) flour use plain (low gluten) or cake flour
- 4.4 oz (130 g) creme fraiche
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- a pinch of salt
Instructions to make the halva
place the small size skillet on the fire
add the honey and heat on medium fire until it starts foaming and the temperature registers 239 F (115 C). Then take the mixture off the heat
Warm the tahin to around 122 F (50 C) and then start mixing the tahin into the cooled down honey. Keep mixing until the mixture is homogeneous and becomes viscous
Meanwhile carefully roast the almonds in a skillet, be careful not to blacken them
Let the almonds cool and cut them in rough parts
mix the almonds with the just produced halva, and place the mixture in a closed container in the refrigerator for at the least a day and a half
Instructions to make the cake toppings
Place the butter in a small pan and heat on low to medium. Melt the butter and let it foam and sizzle until the butter starts to brown a little and starts to smell nutty
Let cool. Meanwhile cut the walnuts in smaller parts.
When the butter is cooled, mix in the chopped walnuts and ground cinnamon
Divide the mixture in two and mix one half with the dark sugar such that it is well distributed. The other half we reserve
How to make and bake the cake
For the cake mixture bring the butter to room temperature and lightly beat the eggs
Cream the butter and the sugar until the mixture becomes light in color and more fluffy. I use a fork, but you can use a mixer also.
Add the eggs step by step until they have completely been absorbed
Separately mix the flour, the baking soda and a pinch of salt
Add this to the butter-sugar-egg mixture in steps, alternating with the creme fraiche
Take a 10 by 6 inch (25 cm by 12 cm) loaf or cake pan and grease it with cooking oil or butter
place grease proof baking paper inside, sticking out of the sides, which will help to release the cake later
Place half the cake batter in the loaf pan
Place then the buttered, but not sugared walnuts on top
On top of that place inch wide broken pieces of halva
Then place the remaining cake batter on top of that
Finally, top it with a layer of the buttered, sugared walnuts
Place the loaf pan in an oven at 340 F (170 C) for 40-45 minutes. Make sure the cake is done by sticking a skewer into the interior and making sure it comes out clean before taking it out
Let cool down for 20 min, then take it out of the form by holding the grease-proof paper and place it on a rack or a bunch of chopsticks. Then remove the paper and let it cool down completely. Cooling down the cake on a rack or the chopsticks will prevent crumbling.
The cake can be kept for several days in great condition, without having to worry much about the temperature
Food allergy & intolerance information: cream, gluten, nuts
- Obviously you can vary endlessly in making this cake. Either use almonds or other nuts to substitute for the walnuts. Or make a halva based on another nut butter! And if you are less adventurous, make a halva based on peanut butter, if you like the taste.
- Serve the cake as is or with some whipped cream.