Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Going Nuts in France

Nuts galore on the market
The squirrels around our garden would have had an amazing time if they’d been on holiday where we’ve just been. I’ve never seen so many nuts or ‘noix’ on display in the markets in the Lozere and Perigord areas of France. (So take a step back if you are allergic to nuts.) 
Mon Gateau aux Noix
The nutty treats included the scrumptious Gateaux aux noix. It's not really like an English sponge cake as the texture is dense but it's certainly delicious! Here’s a recipe which a French friend gave me a few years ago – it’s really simple to make!

Gateau aux Noix
100g caster sugar
100g butter (softened)
150g( chopped) walnuts
40g flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
200g icing sugar
2 tbsps coffee granules 
Water to mix
Whole walnuts

Fold the chopped walnuts in half the sugar. Mix the butter and the rest of the sugar together. Add the chopped walnuts and sugar mixture and then the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour and salt. Grease a cake tin or dish (approx 20cms) and pour the mixture into it. Bake in a hot oven (Mark 7, 210-220C) for around 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Make the icing by sieving the icing sugar and coffee powder (grind the granules in a pestle and mortar) and adding a couple of tbsps of water. Mix until smooth and not too runny. Coat the top of the cake and finally decorate with whole walnuts. Bon appétit! 

Grandma’s tips :
Use a Food processor to chop up the walnuts.
Grind the coffee granules to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
You can add a splash of Armagnac to the cake mixture before baking.  
Laurent and Pat served some tasty aperitifs including Le Birlou, a fabulous aperitif made from apples and chestnuts in their wonderful renovated farmhouse at  La Borie d'Aubrac   in the SW corner of France. It’s even on the pilgrimage route to  Santiago de Compostella in France. But you didn’t have to be one of the pilgrims to enjoy  the laughter and chat around the large dining table every evening with different nationalities coming together to enjoy our hosts’ fabulous hospitality. I showed them Grandma’s blog and expect to hear of additional puddings and cakes added to the international menu!

Have you got a favourite cake recipe with nuts?

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