Hungarian Nut Cake was my mother’s favorite cake, as her hand-typed recipe below attests. I remember having it often at home growing up and it was her favorite to make for friends birthdays, potlucks, or other gatherings. I have a vision of her carrying this cake out to the picnic table in the yard for a gathering of the enlisted men’s wives when we living in California.
She loved hosting. She was not fussy, but warm and welcoming. She wanted everyone to feel at ease and at home and part of a community. Being a Navy wife, with kids while your husband was deployed for 8 months was no easy task. She felt duty-bound to look out for the other families in the squadron.
I made some changes to her recipe to make this dish, but it is an homage to my sweet Mother. I cut the recipe to 1/3. Her original made 3 8-inch Hungarian Nut Cakes to layer. I just needed a small bit for my plating, and my plating was just for 2, so even then I had cake left over.
Hungarian Nut Cake
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup of lt. brown sugar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- ½ cup sifted flour
- 2/3 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 egg whites
- Crème the butter, lt. brown sugar and sugar together
- Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix completely
- Grind the walnuts in a food processor until they are fine.
- In a separate bowl sift together the bread crumbs, flour, and baking powder
- Add to the butter mixture
- Add in the vanilla and milk
- Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl until they have stiff peaks
- Fold these into the mixture.
- Cover a sheet pan with a silicone pad or parchment.
- Spread the mixture out thinly on the pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 325.
- Let cool slightly and then cut into 3-inch circles.
- 1 crisp apple
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- Peel and slice the apple
- Heat a pan with the butter
- Add the apples and cook on each side until golden brown.
- Add the brown sugar and cook until the apples are coated and caramely.
Okay. This was my first time making Crème Anglaise. I mean, I’ve watched people on TV do this a million times, so I should be able to do this right? Well, I searched through multiple recipes and watched videos on techniques, and here’s what I came up with (it’s a blend of several). Oh, and it came out perfect!
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy crème
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- Combine the milk and crème in a heavy-bottomed pot.
- Scrape out the vanilla bean and add the scrapings and the pod to the pot.
- Heat over medium until it is simmering (not boiling)
- Turn off the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes.
- Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl.
- Strain the milk mixture.
- In a slow stream add ½ of the milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking to incorporate. Do this carefully. If the milk is still too hot it can cause the eggs to scramble. (but if they do, don’t worry I found a fix!)
- Pour this egg and milk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk and crème. Heat over medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (This allows you to feel the bottom of the pot and see how the mixture is thickening). Again, do this carefully so you don’t scramble your eggs. This will take 5-10 minutes (mine took 8). You will know it is done by the famous spoon test (if you watch cooking shows you have seen this). The mixture will coat the back of the wooden spoon and when you make a stripe with your finger down the back of the spoon it will not run together. Keep in mind this is a sauce, so you want it to be able to pour.
- Place the pot in an ice bath to cool. You want to do this to keep it from cooking!
- ***If your mixture scrambles and gets clumpy! Get out your immersion blender and make it smooth again!
- Strain the mixture through a sieve and serve.
Place the circle (or two, I stacked mine) of the Hungarian Nut Cake on your dish, top with the caramelized apple, and drizzle with the crème anglaise.
What about a Wine Pairing?
We paired this with a Prosecco from Treviso Italy from Terre di Bacco, which picked up on the apple notes and was lovely and bright. Prosecco, or another type of sparkling wine or maybe even a sweet wine from Bordeaux would be great with this!
Recipes and Wine and Food Pairings
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.