MARIA’S WALNUT CAKE – Recipe by Piero Benigni – This old fashioned cake is tasty, delicate and conquers all who happen to enjoy it for the first time. It’s an all day sweet, from breakfast to after meal, as a snack or on the go and a nice gift when visiting friends. It can be easily prepared in about one and a half hours with no special skill required. The cake is a simple yolks-sugar-flour dough with a topping of whipped whites and chopped walnuts. Can also be made in the same way with almonds.

This cake is typical of Tuscany and Umbria regions. The recipe is my family’s own: Maria was my grandma and I still remember her preparing it in the fifties, when I was a kid. She crushed walnuts on the pastry board by rolling them with a bottle, since appliances were still to come in the kitchens.

Maria' walnut cake
  • DifficultyVery easy
  • CostCheap
  • Preparation time20 Minutes
  • Cooking time1 Hour 10 Minutes
  • Serving8
  • Cooking methodOven
  • CuisineItalian

Ingredients for 8 people

  • 240 gflour (8 1/2 oz)
  • 240 gsugar (8 1/2 oz)
  • 3eggs
  • 120 gwalnut kernels (4 oz)
  • 110 gseed oil (3 3/4 oz, sunflower o corn oil)
  • 6 spoonsmilk
  • 12 gbaking powder for sweets (2/5 oz)
  • 1orange (organic)
  • 2 pinchessalt
  • icing sugar (for topping, at taste)

Tools for Maria’s walnut cake

  • Oven
  • Mold Round, 10″ diameter
  • Whip Electric
  • 3 Bowls
  • Spatula or rubber spatula
  • Scale
  • Kitchen Robot for kernels chopping
  • Spoon

The recipe is easy, just follow directions and observe quantities. You can do the cake with the same weight of almonds instead of walnuts. I suggest using sunflower oil, but corn or olive oils are also ok. If you prefer, use 140 g (5 oz) of molten butter.

Getting ready

  1. Carefully butter and flour the mold. I suggest to line the base with baking paper. Weight sugar and put in a small bowl. Put walnut kernels and a tablespoon from the weighted sugar in the mixer and finely chop. Put egg whites and yolks in two separate bowls. Pay attention that absolutely no trace of yolk is in the whites.

    The yolk dough: grate the orange zest on yolks, add 6 tablespoon of milk and near all the weighed sugar, leaving only a tablespoon of it in the sugar bowl. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth and color is pale. Add a pinch of salt, seed oil, sifted flour and baking powder. Mix again until combined. If too thick, add some tablespoon of milk. Quickly pour dough into the mold and spread evenly.


    Always sift flour, because it takes air so leavening will be easier and the cake lighter and better

    Yolk-only doughs thicken in a short time, work quickly!

  2. Maria's walnut cake

    The whites dough: carefully wash and dry rotating whips. Add to whites the remaining tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt, then beat until stiff. Add chopped walnuts and gently mix from bottom up using the rubber spatula or a spoon. Put the mixture in the mold on the yolk dough. Evenly spread using the bottom of a wet spoon as in picture.


    Remember that the smallest trace of yolk prevents stiffing when beating egg whites !!!

  3. Maria's walnut cake

Baking of Maria’s walnut cake

  1. Put in not fan assisted oven at 170 °C (330-340 °F), heat above and below, position halfway up. Baking time depends upon oven and dough thickness. It is from 60 to 90 minutes and is done when surface is dry, quite firm and shows some cracks. Always do the skewer or toothpick test: fully insert it in the center and check that it comes out perfectly dry.


    Do not bake cakes at a temperature higher than 175 °C (340 °F) otherwise they can smell eggy.

    In the picture: my family’s recipe and the skewer test.

  2. When baking is done take out from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove from mold. It is at his best after some hours. Serve with a little icing sugar on top. It can be kept for a few days, preferably under a bell.

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