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Black Walnut Cake Recipe

| November 25, 2018 | 12 Comments

Black Walnut Cake

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to make this old fashioned Black Walnut Cake. Printable recipe included.

 

Black Walnut Cake, enjoy.
Black Walnut Cake Recipe, an old fashioned Southern favorite.

 

Black Walnut Cake, slider.

I made this Black Walnut Cake to carry to my brothers house for our Thanksgiving dinner this year. (2018)  This is my cake story, and I’m sticking to it. Smile.

For the past few years, I’ve had the great privilege to make many road trips with my older brother as we delivered his Carolina Pig Cookers grills all up and down the East Coast. Mostly, we travel together on trips in North and South Carolina, or Virginia.

Over the years, conversations often turn to food after a big meal, or when we’re starting to get hungry. Smile. We also reminisce a lot about days gone by.

I’ve heard my brother talk about Black Walnut Cakes on many of those excursions, so I thought it was about time I tried to make one for him. Mama use to make them ever so often, and I don’t think either one of us have had one in years.

If you’ve never had them, black walnuts have a unique taste all their own. They can also be a bit difficult to crack open and enjoy.

First, you have to wait for the walnuts to fall off the tree in the Fall of the year. They have a green outer shell that has to dry out, then you can get to the inner black walnut shell that holds the nut meat.

Bricks or large rocks were often used to crack the shell of the black walnut, often times into many pieces. After that, you would use one of Mama’s old “bobby pins” to pick the meat out of the nut. You most always were eating very small pieces of the nut at a time. It was work, but worth it. Smile.

So, as it would happen, my brother called me a few days before Thanksgiving and slyly suggested that he would like to have one of his old fashioned cake favorites for the holidays.

“What might that be,” I asked? And, without skipping a beat, he replied “Coconut, an old fashioned coconut cake like Mama use to make.”

Now, he knew I’d made these in the past, and I knew he was dropping a hint. But, I didn’t say anything.

TWICE more, before Thanksgiving, he mentioned that coconut cake. Go figure.

I never did tell him that I was already working on a Black Walnut Cake.

After another big Thanksgiving meal at his house, my brother slipped back into the dining room with a slice of cake in hand. I watched carefully as he bit into it, and I caught his eye as he looked over at me looking at him.

I waited.

“I knew you’d be watching me to see what kind of face I’d make when I took a bite”, he said with a grin. “That’s why I took the first bite in the kitchen before coming in here.” Sneaky isn’t he?

“Well,” I asked?

“It’s good, it’s got a little walnut flavor but not a whole lot.” he says.

I have to admit that I agreed with him. The walnuts alone added just a subtle hint of flavor to the cake, and I guess we both had been expecting a bit more.

I didn’t think about there actually being a Black Walnut Cake Flavoring that I could have ordered. But there is. I’ll share that info here as well.

My niece said the frosting was “delicious” and that I made it look almost “professional.” That made me smile of course.

I know it may be more of a preferred taste when it comes to cakes, but it certainly is an old Southern favorite as far as cakes are concerned. They just don’t seem to show up on family tables, reunions, or church socials like they did years back. So, let’s see if we can remedy that. Want too?

Ready to give our cake a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!

 

Black Walnut Cake, you'll need these ingredients for the cake.
Black Walnut Cake – You’ll need these ingredients to make the cake.

 

Black Walnut Cake, frosting ingredients
Frosting – And, you’ll need these ingredients to make the frosting.

 

Black Walnut Cake, sift flour.
We’ll make the cake layers first. To begin, sift your flour into a large bowl. You’ll need 3 1/2 cups of sifted flour for the layers.  Sift the flour, then set this aside for the time being. We’ll measure out what we need a bit later.

 

Black Walnut Cake, chop the black walnuts.
Chop the walnuts a bit smaller if desired.

I like using local pecans and walnuts from Carolina Nut Cracker.

I generally purchase their pecans from our North Carolina State Farmers Market in Raleigh, but you can also order Pecans, English Walnuts, and the Black Walnuts online from their website.

 

Black Walnut Cake, butter and shortening.
To begin making the layers, add the butter and the shortening to a large mixing bowl.

 

Black Walnut Cake, cream together until smooth.
Cream the butter and shortening together until smooth. This will take about three minutes with a good hand mixer.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add the brown sugar.
Add the one cup of firmly packed brown sugar to the bowl.

Fill your measuring cup with brown sugar, then press it down and add more until you have a firmly packed cup of sugar.

 

Black Walnut Cake, cream together.
Cream this mixture together until well combined.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add the granulated sugar.
Add one cup of white granulated sugar to the bowl.

 

Black Walnut Cake, cream together until smooth.
Cream this mixture together until smooth. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed while you’r mixing everything together.

 

Black Walnut Cake, crack the eggs.
Next, we’ll add the eggs, one at a time, into the sugar mixture.

It’s always best to crack the egg into a small bowl first so you can see any egg shell that might fall in. This way, you can remove it easily. You don’t want any eggshell to get into the batter where it could be much harder to see. Better safe than sorry. Smile.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add eggs one at a time.
Add the eggs, one at a time to the mixing bowl.

 

Black Walnut Cake, mix just until combined.
After you add each egg, mix each one into the batter just until it’s incorporated. Don’t over mix it. Repeat this process until you have added all the eggs to the batter.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add part of the flour.
Let’s start adding the flour. Place one level cup of the sifted flour into the bowl.

We’re going to alternate between adding flour and buttermilk to complete making the batter for the layers. We’ll end with flour.

 

Black Walnut Cake, mix until combined.
Mix the cup of flour into the batter just until it’s incorporated into the mixture.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add one third cup of the buttermilk.
Add about a half cup of the buttermilk into the mixture. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, so this will divide out to adding a half cup of buttermilk at a time.

 

Black Walnut Cake, repeat the process.
Just repeat the process, alternating between adding a cup of flour, mixing, then adding a half cup of buttermilk and mixing again until you’ve added three cups of flour and the 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk into the batter. Confused yet?  I hope not.

 

Black Walnut Cake, end with flour.
You’ll end up adding the 1/2 cup of flour last, then mixing this into the batter.

This concept of alternating between flour and milk is pretty much the standard for making cakes. You’ll see the process repeated often in cake making. It just works out for us to add the flour one cup at a time, then a half cup of buttermilk at a time until we get it all mixed into the batter.

Mix each addition just enough to bring it into the batter. It doesn’t have to be perfect each time until you get to the last addition, then you want to be sure you have all the flour mixed in and no lumps showing. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed as you go.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add the flavoring.
Add the flavoring next. Mix this in just until combined.

I’m using a Butter and Nut Flavoring from my friends over at Southern Flavoring Company. Next time, I will order their special Black Walnut Flavoring which would have been perfect for this cake. If you don’t have either, you can use Vanilla Flavoring just as easily.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add the walnuts.
Sprinkle the chopped walnuts all around over the batter.

 

Black Walnut Cake, fold the walnuts into the batter.
Grab a large spoon and fold the walnuts into the batter. Since the walnuts are heavier, it’s easier to do this with a spoon. Use a folding action by dipping down to the bottom and bring the batter up over the top and repeat this until the walnuts are mixed into the batter. This will take just about 20 seconds.

 

Black Walnut Cake, prepare your baking pans.
Prepare your pans.

I like to cut a parchment circle to fit inside my pans. It’s not necessary, but it helps the layers release from the pan much easier once they are baked.  I also use a canned spray with flour mixed in to coat the inside of the pans.

If you prefer, just grease the pans, then dust the inside with a bit of flour until the pan is well coated.

Find which way works best for you. Smile.

 

Black Walnut Cake, divide the batter between the pans.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans.

I use a large spoon and try to scoop out about the same amount each time and add it to the pans. I add a spoonful of batter to one pan, then the next pan, repeating this process until I’ve used up all the batter.

 

Black Walnut Cake, smooth out the batter.
Then, I use the back of the spoon to spread the batter out in the pan. Start at the center and gently spread the batter to smooth it out in the pan.

 

Black Walnut Cake, baking time and temp.
Place the pans in a oven pre-heated to 350F degrees. Bake until done.

I’ve always used a toothpick to test my cake layers to see if they are done. But, I wanted to change that tactic this time and use a quick read digital thermometer to bake the layers until they were done.

It didn’t work out. But, it was my fault.

I had three pans in the oven at one time, which is okay. You just need to rotate them towards the end of their baking time so they bake more evenly. My plan was to bake them for 18 minutes, then rotate the pans. If you do it early, before the layers start to firm up some, the layers might fall during the process.

At 18 minutes, I opened the oven door to rotate the pans. I could see the layers had already pulled from the side of the baking pans, which pretty much meant they were done.

I should have tested the layers then with the digital thermometer. I’m sure they were done.

But, I went ahead and rotated the pans and closed the oven door. After about 5 more minutes, I got concerned they would over bake and I checked the layers with the thermometer. They were already over the 200F – 205F degree range that I had hoped for. One layer was up to 215F degrees.

I immediately pulled them from the oven. Maybe I can do better next time. It’s just part of the learning process. You can thank me later.

 

Black Walnut Cake, place on wire rack to cool.
When done, remove the layers from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

I didn’t go into more detail here, but after 10 minutes, flip the layers over and remove them from the pans. Let them rest on the cooling rack until completely cooled before frosting.

Once my layers cooled, I wrapped them in clear plastic wrap and just left them on my counter until the next day to frost them.

 

Black Walnut Cake, lets make the frosting.
Speaking of frosting… let’s make some.

Let the butter and the cream cheese soften a bit first, then place it all into a large mixing bowl.

 

Black Walnut Cake, cream together until smooth.
Using a mixer, cream these two ingredients together until fully combined and smooth. This took a couple of minutes using my mixer on almost the medium speed.

 

Black Walnut Cake, gradually add the sugar.
Gradually add the sugar, mixing until it gets combined with the butter and cream cheese.

This will take a bit longer because we’ve got a lot of sugar to add into the bowl. Eight cups is a lot of powdered sugar, but just add a little at a time, mix it in, then add some more. Repeat the process until you’ve got it all mixed together.

 

Black Walnut Cake, scrape down the bowl as needed.
Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl every once in awhile during the process.

 

Black Walnut Cake, add the vanilla flavoring.
Add the Vanilla Flavoring.

I didn’t think about it when I took the photo of the ingredients for making the frosting, but I did have a clear vanilla flavoring. That’s what I added to the frosting to keep it whiter in color.

My friends at Southern Flavoring Company have a clear flavoring in their Happy Home line of all things vanilla.

 

Black Walnut Cake, mix until combined.
Mix the flavoring into the frosting. Now, let’s start frosting our layers.

 

Black Walnut Cake, pipe a border.
Pipe a border of frosting around the layer.

I’m skipping a few photos with some of this process, but here’s what I did.

I trimmed the dome off of one of the layers to make it more level. Then, I placed a dab of frosting in the center of the cake board I’m using to build my cake on. I turned the layer top side down, and placed it on the board, centering it as best I could. The dab of frosting helps hold the layer in place on the board.

Next, I placed some of the frosting in a decorators bag and piped a border of frosting around the outside edge of the layer. This acts as a barrier for adding more frosting as we proceed.

 

Black Walnut Cake, scoop out frosting.
I used an ice cream scoop and placed three scoops of frosting onto the layer. It actually took four scoops, but I didn’t realize that until I started smoothing it out. It really depends on how much frosting you want between each layer. Using a scoop will help you keep the thickness of the frosting between each layer about the same.

 

Black Walnut Cake, spread the frosting.
Use a spatula to spread the frosting out across the top of the layer.

 

Black Walnut Cake, apply the crumb coat.
Repeat this process with the second layer, then add the top layer.

Spread a much thinner layer on the top, then spread a thin layer all around the sides of the cake. This looks a little rough at the moment. Smile.

We’re going to make a “crumb coat” for the frosting to seal in the crumbs. After I took this photo, I used my spatula to smooth out the frosting as evenly as possible across the top and the sides. Fill any gaps between the layers with frosting and smooth that out as well.

Once you have it smoothed, place it uncovered in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up the frosting.

This crumb coat, once chilled, will keep any crumbs on the cake from showing up in our final layer of frosting. It’ll just make it prettier. Smile.

After about 30 minutes, you can remove the cake from the refrigerator and frost the sides and top as you like.

 

Black Walnut Cake, enjoy.
Enjoy!

I’ve never claimed to be a cake decorator. It’s something I’d like to get better at, and I try to work on it whenever I make a cake. Old age might cause me to rush through it a bit though. Smile.

I did frost the cake all over as you can see, then sprinkled just a few of the crushed walnuts on top for a bit of eye appeal. This really isn’t a decorating type of frosting, at least not for me.

And, since it IS a cream cheese frosting, it needs to be stored in your refrigerator once it’s made to keep it fresh. I hope you enjoy our old fashioned Black Walnut Cake. I look forward to hearing your Comments on it below.

 

Print
Black Walnut Cake, printable recipe.

Black Walnut Cake Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 - 10 slices
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American, Southern

Description

Black Walnuts make an excellent cake that has become an old Southern favorite. Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to make it.


Ingredients

½  cup Butter (1 stick) at room temperature
½ cup Lard, or Crisco Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed firm
1 cup Granulated Sugar
5 Large Eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cup Buttermilk
3-1/2 cups sifted Self-Rising Flour
2 teaspoon Butter Nut Flavoring, (or Vanilla)
1 ½ cups Black Walnut Pieces, finely chopped

Black Walnut Butter Cream Frosting Ingredients:
2 – 8oz packages Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Flavoring
8 cups Confectioners’ Sugar


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Sift your flour to have it ready. Set aside for now.
Chop the black walnuts if needed.
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
Add the lard or shortening.
Use a mixer to cream butter and shortening together for 3 minutes.
Gradually add in the light brown sugar, mixing until smooth.
Gradually add the granulated sugar, mixing until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mix just until combined. Scrape down bowl as needed.
Add flour, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour.
Add butter nut flavoring, mix just until combined.
Add the walnut pieces.
Fold nuts into mixture by hand until combined.
Grease and flour 3 – 8 inch cake pans.
Divide batter between the 3 pans.
Bake at 350F degrees for 20 – 30 minutes, or until cake tests done using a wooden toothpick.
Remove from oven, place pans on wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Remove layers from pans, place layers on wire rack to cool completely.

Black Walnut Butter Cream Frosting Instructions:
Place the cream cheese, butter and flavoring in a large mixing bowl.
Cream the ingredients together until smooth.
Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Stir slowly to avoid making a mess.
Spread frosting between layers of cake, on sides, and on top.
Enjoy!


Notes

Southern Flavoring Company sells a special Happy Home brand of Black Walnut Flavoring that would add even more flavor to this cake. I used their Butter and Nut Flavoring for this recipe, but you could also just use Vanilla Flavoring if that’s what you have on hand.

Keywords: Black Walnut Cake, southern, old fashioned, easy, desserts, cake, southern favorite desserts

Your Comments:

Have you ever had the pleasure to enjoy a Black Walnut Cake? What do you remember about this old Southern favorite dessert?

Share your memories and comments with us. It will only take a minute or two for you to leave your comments in the section below.

Just remember, all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and everyone before they are approved for viewing on our family friendly website. Thank you in advance for sharing.

Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter:

While you’re here, be sure to sign up for our totally FREE NEWSLETTER.  I’ll send you an Email every once in awhile to remind you when I post a new recipe, or when anything else of importance is going on around Taste of Southern.  It’s totally free, and super easy to sign up.  And, should you ever decide that you are no longer interested, it’s even quicker to unsubscribe.  How cool is that?  I’ll be looking forward to seeing you add your name to our list.  The signup box is below and you’ll also find one in the top right hand corner of each page. I hope you’ll do it today.

Be Blessed!!!
Steve

..

You might also like: Mama’s Fresh Coconut Cake

Or, how about this:  Old Fashioned Pineapple Cake Recipe

And, here’s another really good one:  Pig Picking Cake

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Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (12)

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  1. Shirley Nemeth says:

    I’m late with this because I’ve had company all week. My niece and her husband who live in Raleigh were visiting. She brought me some peas from her freezer also some side meat which was not frozen nor refrigerated and cooked them while she was here. I asked her why she left it out on the counter instead of putting it in fridge and she said “because it’s been salt cured”. She fried it and put some in the peas. They were very good. Anyway, the reason I’m writing is to say I made your beef tips with rice and gravy for them when we had the peas. Actually, she did more of it than I did because I had your recipe printed out and laying on the counter top. I had made it a while back and decided it would be something they would enjoy and they did. She also made cornbread fritters which were very good. Mine are not! As for your Black Walnut Cake, it looks and sounds wonderful but I don’t do two layer cakes, much less three layer cakes because my layers always turn out lopsided. I took cake decorating classes many years ago and I was no better when I finished than when I started. I’m thankful you and your friends Billy and Jan are doing better.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Shirley, I’m glad you had the chance to spend some time with your family over Thanksgiving. That’s always good. Smile. We have an old store here in town that sells ham hocks and side meat. They just have a big bin of it laying out in the open, not even wrapped. Just individual pieces of pork, salt cured, that anybody and everybody can pick up and handle. I know you can wash it once you get home, but I like to buy it wrapped up at least. I’m glad you tried our Beef Tips with Rice and Gravy recipe. It’s one of the most popular recipes here on Taste of Southern. As for the Walnut Cake, you can always make it as a sheet cake, but I’m sure you had already thought about that. It would taste the same and be less work for sure. My cakes turn out lopsided too, so we have that in common as well. Thank you for your kind words about my friends Billy and Jan. I appreciate you being a subscriber to the Newsletter, and always appreciate your visits to our home here on the Internet. I do hope you’ll keep it up and visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Ann says:

    You’ve done it again. Most of your recipes bring back memories. I have many black walnut trees and a special nut cracker that works. I haven’t made a cake yet but I will this holiday.

    Thanks again,
    Ann in Ohio

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Ann, I haven’t seen a walnut tree in a long time that I’m aware of. How fortunate you are to have them so close. I do hope you’ll get to try our Black Walnut Cake recipe. What else do you do with the one’s you have? As always, I appreciate your visits and do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Lori says:

    My mother makes the best black walnut cake. I’ve tasted others but they never compare. We eat ours uniced, delicious. She will often make cupcakes for individual servings or in a bundt pan.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Lori, Maybe you can share your Moms secret with us for making such a great Black Walnut Cake. I bet they are good. I considered not icing this one since my brother is diabetic, but wanted to make it a recipe I could share. Figured it would just look better with the icing. I told him to scrape the icing off of whatever he ate. Smile. Thank you for sharing your comments. I do appreciate your visit and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Anne Smith says:

    Quick question: I always wonder…is 1 1/2 cups ‘sifted flour’ flour that measures 1 1/2 cups before, or after, it’s sifted. Picky point, but probably important, right? Thanks, I can’t wait to try to make this (try being the operative word!)!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Anne, When a recipe calls for an amount of sifted flour, it means to measure it AFTER it’s been sifted. It is important. Sifting the flour aerates it and is not as heavy as a unsifted cup of flour is. Could make a big difference in some recipes. Experiment with it sometime. Measure out a level cup of flour from the bag. Sift it, then measure out a cup of the sifted flour. See how much extra you have left over. It’s interesting. Smile. Nothing wrong with being picky. I do hope you get to try the cake. I look forward to hearing your results. Thank you for your visit today. Be sure to visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Kathy Wolfe says:

    It’s been over 30 years since I’ve had one of these but I remember my Dad picking out the walnuts. It took several hours. Did you figure out the cost of this cake? Just curious to know. I’d have to buy the ingredients in installments!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Kathy, I picked out Black Walnuts as a kid, mostly what I ended up eating. It is time consuming work so you didn’t eat a lot of them. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to experience it though. As for cost, I paid 10.00 for a pound of Black Walnut pieces already shelled. I had some leftover so it didn’t take all of them. Then, you have the cost of cream cheese, butter, and it does add up. My only regret was not having the Walnut Flavoring. I’d most certainly want to try that next time. And, I did buy it in installments. A little this week, a little the next, until I had everything on hand. Smile. (Had to pay shipping charges on the walnuts too, forgot that) I appreciate you stopping by today. I hope you might try the cake one day. The door is always open, so stop by anytime. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  6. Marilyn Allison says:

    Good Morning,

    This recipe looks fantastic. I have a question, my husband cannot have buttermilk, but I have read that if you add vinegar to whole milk, it will taste like buttermilk. Is that true? I would love to make this cake for my family, looks so tasty. I totally enjoyed your newsletter, and so glad for Billy and Jan, and for you, going to your Brother’s house. Great news! Keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Marilyn, I’ve never actually tried making the milk and vinegar substitution for buttermilk. I don’t know that it would taste like it, but it is used often as a recipe substitute for buttermilk since buttermilk is something most folks don’t keep on hand. I’m sure the recipe would work with regular milk though if buttermilk is that big of a problem. Let me know if you try it either way. Thank you for stopping by today. I appreciate your visits. I’m glad you subscribe to the Newsletter and thank you for keeping us all in your prayers. We’ll be forever grateful. I do hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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