Like France, California has an abundance of walnuts. As a kid, our family frequently house-swapped with a couple who owned a vineyard in the California wine country. I remember circling their walnut tree, collecting the shelled nuts, while my Mom collected figs for preserving from the neighboring tree.
Once my basket was full, I’d spread my harvest out on the patio table, taking a nutcracker, as my parents had taught me, to pull out the meaty nut inside. My brother had a different technique which involved smashing them open with a rock.
The walnuts would appear on our salads at dinner. All these years later, when I see walnuts, I see the walnut tree at Cloverdale. I also see their potential for baking. They pair excellently with chocolate. And just as excellently with banana. But why not make them the star of the show, like the French do? They shine brighter than ever in this classic French Walnut Cake.
It is packed with walnuts. Extravagantly so–2 entire cups! If you ignore the butter and sugar content, it’s practically healthy. 😉 It’s height is supported by the eggs and the volume of nuts. It has a hint of booze, which of course is optional, and it’s entirely unfussy. It’s basic in ingredients, yet entirely unique.