Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Taste of Vienna

Tomorrow I am going to the first of my two Thanksgivings. I'm bringing a walnut mocha torte. It sounds complicated but it's really very simple, it just requires some attention to detail.

The cake has only 5 ingredients.

5 eggs, separated
120 grams of sugar
80 grams of ground (grated) walnuts
1 heaping tablespoon finely ground coffee
1 heaping tablespoon flour

Preheat the oven to 350 or 325 if you have a dark pan.

The important thing is to have the eggs at room temperature and to grind the nuts properly. They should not be ground in a food processor or spice grinder but in a hand grater. Like this one from Microplane.

The blades in the grater are very sharp and flat so what you get is fluffy nut shavings. This makes the cake texture finer than conventionally ground nuts.

Beat the whites on high speed until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat to stiff peaks.

Make sure they are well beaten before adding the yolks. Add the yolks and beat some more.

Lower the mixer speed and mix in the ground nuts, the coffee, and the flour. Stop the mixer and use a large spatula to scrape down the bowl and make sure the batter is well blended.
Pour into a prepared spring form pan. 8" is ideal though I used 9" since I don't have an 8". (Hard to believe, I know.) Line the bottom with greased parchment but if the pan has a nonstick coating do not grease the sides. The batter needs something to cling to as it rises. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake springs back when you gently press it.
Let the cake cool for a few minutes then run a spatula around the edge and take off the outer ring. Let the cake cool completely. The center will sink a bit. Don't worry about it. That's what the buttercream frosting is for.

To make the buttercream you need 4 ingredients.
3 whole eggs + 1 yolk
100 grams of sugar
Scant 1/4 cup of very strong coffee
10 tablespoons of butter, slightly softened

Mix the sugar and eggs together.

Add the coffee. If it is hot be sure to mix while adding so the eggs don't scramble. Cook this over a simmering water bath until it thickens. You must stir constantly and be prepared to move the bowl quickly. Once the mixture reaches 160 degrees the eggs will start to set. It will go from thin to thickened very quickly once it starts. Remove it from the heat and set it in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking. Let it come to room temperature. Beat in the butter.

This kind of cake is not easy to decorate. It crumbs easily and is very spongy. It will never have a very precise, finished look because it is so soft. But that's just fine. Peel the parchment off the bottom and place the cake on a platter or a cake circle. Slice the cake in half horizontally. If you have a cardboard cake circle use it to help you move the top half off. Spread some of the buttercream and then top with the other half. Coat the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream then chill for a few minutes. Here is where ground nuts can come in. You can coat the outer edge with them and get a more even result. The remaining frosting goes in the top and helps to even out the sunken middle. Sometimes I put some walnut halves on the top but I didn't have any so I skipped it.

If you can make this a day ahead that is all the better. The buttercream and cake will have time to meld together. This is may be my father's favorite cake. He wants me to make one that doesn't end. I don't think I would even if I could.

1 comment:

Kicking N. Screaming said...

I guess that thing wouldn't survive being shipped to Atlanta, huh?