Last year at Christmas we were sitting at the dining table, taking one slice after the other one from the rococo cake and analysing it with a worried and thoughtful look on our faces.
“I think grandma cut the dough into four parts not three”- says my sister.
“But the cream was exactly enough for three…”- I answer.
“But it used to be higher”
“The sponge cake didn’t rise properly. I think I made a mistake when I wrote down the recipe and added to much cocoa powder.”
“It is not wider than the plate though… it is mysterious…”
“It used to be slightly softer I think”- adds my father.
“I think it could have needed more time to rest in the fridge”- I answer sadly and take another bite from the “similar-but-not-the same” cake, as a consolation.
That happens, when someone loses a loved family member and tries to reproduce her speciality. I could be sure in my whole life, that there will be rococo cake at Christmas, because my grandmother baked this wonderful, creamy walnut cake for every bigger occasions and took it to the family lunch. She is not with us any more since three years, and now my sister and I have to take the responsibility to continue the tradition. However we both were at her side once when she baked it, we were too young to really take attention to details. So now we have three , not really precise and detailed recipes- my sister has one, I have my notes I have taken, and my grandmother’s handwritten recipe- and some unclear memories. We have at least one starting point: the porcelain cake dish from Herend, which lost one of its handles in an accident.
We could be sure that the cake cannot be bigger than the dish, because she used it for this purpose, but still we didn’t know the size of the baking pan my grandmother used to use, the amount of milk, rum ( she wrote “a little” and “some”) whether I am right or my grandma regarding the amount of cocoa powder (she wrote 2 tablespoon, I wrote 3) and whether baking powder is necessary, because a recipe included the other one didn’t.
My first trial last year was not a disaster but not really successful. For example it turned out that my grandmother was more precise than me, so she was right regarding the amount of cocoa powder. Last time I didn’t add any baking powder, this time I added a pinch of it. Also I carefully measured everything, so I can write down a really detailed description with proper amounts. Mine has three levels because of the size of my oven. Although the number of levels will be still a matter of dispute in my family, but I think my grandmother would be satisfied with this version and also with the fact that I share it with you all.
I wish you merry Christmas to you all, dear Readers!
With lots of love
Rococo cake (my grandmother’s special walnut cake)
6 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
2 heaped tbsp flour
2 heaped tbsp fine bread crumbs
1 pinch of baking powder
2 heaped tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
For the cream:
250 g ground walnuts
250 g confectioner’s sugar
250 g butter or margarine (at room-temperature)
220 ml milk
2 tbsp rum (according to your taste you can add some more)
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Separate eggs, sift breadcrumbs to get it really fine. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until it gets foamy. Add flour and baking powder, bread crumbs and cocoa powder and mix it well. Beat the egg whites until it forms peaks. Fold it into the batter without breaking the foam. Spread it evenly over a baking pan lined with paper (I use a 33 x 29 cm baking pan) Bake it until it is flexible when you push it a little bit with your finger (approximately 15 minutes) Remove paper from the bottom and let it cool down on a cooling rack. In the meantime bring milk to boil, add walnut and cook it for a few minutes. Let it cool down completely. Beat butter with sugar until it gets foamy, add walnut cream and finally rum.
Divide the dough to three parts so you get three 11×29 cm pieces. Spread the first piece with the cream, as thick as the dough is. Put the second piece on top, spread it with the cream again than top it with the third piece. Cover your cake with the cream completely, than finally using a fork, decorate the top of your cake so it looks like a bole texture. Put the cake to the fridge preferably for overnight so it will be easy to slice and flavours get richer.