I was originally inspired to make this cake by Marie-Claire Frederic, french food writer and cookbook author extraordinaire. She also writes Du Miel et Du Sel, a wonderful food blog that I read often. The blog is entirely in French and since my language skills are somewhat remedial I usually struggle through most of it. However, I can generally understand the recipes and instructions and what I do retain is always a source of inspiration.
I call this cake a Dacquoise since it's basically a nut based meringue cake although that might be considered a stretch by some. The term Dacquoise traditionally refers to a multi layer nut meringue cake with buttercream or whipped cream filling. Either way, although the name might sound fancy, this cake truly couldn't be simpler. Basically, it's just a flourless meringue cake packed full of walnuts. I've made it many times, trying to perfect the recipe, and determined to make it flourless. Everyone seems to have enjoyed the original and the incarnations along the way.
Since the cake does have so many nuts, it can be difficult to slice in tidy horizontal layers if you plan to fill it with icing. I'd suggest using the same quantity of batter and just dividing it between two cake pans to make shorter layers. I think the layers benefit from a good soaking with simple syrup before icing. A rum syrup here would be perfect.
Mostly I make this cake and serve it unfilled, simply dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with caramel sauce over top. It's pretty hard to go wrong any way you decide to serve it. It's just yummy. Happy Baking!
For the Cake:
Yields 1, 8"x 2" cake
200g toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g light brown sugar
25g white sugar
nonstick spray for pan
1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8"x 2" cake pan with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, mix the chopped walnuts, almond flour, baking powder, and salt.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla and brown sugar until they increase in volume and have a pale, mousse-like consistency, about 5 minutes.
3) Using a spatula, fold in the nut mixture by hand, until well incorporated, using as few strokes as possible.
4) In another bowl of the stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until just foamy. Add the white sugar, in a slow steady stream, until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the nut mixture, in 3 additions, taking care not to deflate the whites.
5) Bake for 35-40 minutes until cake is golden brown and just set in the middle. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then unmold onto a rack, using a knife to loosen the edge if needed. Keep at room temperature until completely cooled before filling or serving.