Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Final Black Walnut Wrap-Up

Many of you have e-mailed me asking for the recipe for the black walnut cake. The recipe is from the Simply-in-Season cookbook put out by the Mennonite Central Committee. Here it is:

2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
3 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Blend together in a large bowl.

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add and beat with mixer for 2 minutes.

4 egg whites
Add and beat two minutes.

1 cup black walnuts, chopped
Fold in nuts. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round pans. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 35 minutes.

For the icing, I used a simple whipped cream icing, but this would be delicious with just about anything, even chocolate.

Someone asked if they could use regular walnuts and black walnut flavored extract. I don't see why not, though my whole purpose in making this cake was to use the nuts we carefully gathered from our black walnut tree. If you don't have access to a tree, look around- some parks have them. And if you do not want to buy the prohibitively expensive black walnut, then give the extract a try. Just let us know how it worked!

Some of you have written to ask about the whole black walnut harvesting process. It is shown with pictures on my old blog here and an update on the cracking process here.

Some things to consider:
  • It's hard, messy work.
  • You need to invest in a black walnut cracker (between $40-$50) which is a long device that you attach to a board. Even then, the bw's are still too difficult to crack so plan on enlisting help from your husband or another strong young man. Other than that, you just need some rubber gloves, netting, and a cool dark place to cure them.
  • It is time consuming. With two people, it takes about 2 hours to crack a hundred nuts, which equals about a cup and a half of nut meat. Doesn't sound like much reward, does it?
  • It's not exactly a child-friendly activity, so don't have any ideas about enlisting the whole family. You don't want children around while you are running over the husks with your car, you don't want the children to get any of the juice on their hands or clothes because it doesn't just stain, it is a stain. Finally, you need a keen eye to separate the shells from the meat in the painstaking separating process.
  • But it sure does taste good!

7 comments:

  1. Oh this sounds sooooo good!!! Thanks for sharing girlfriend. I can't wait to try this one.

    God's Blessings,
    Amy Jo

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  2. Black Walnut cracking is for old retired men who still need something of value to do.

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  3. I'll share that one with my husband, Katie! Provided an old man still has enough strength to do it, I think you may be right.

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  4. Well THAT walnut cracker doesn't sound any more promising than my adventures were, cracking them with hammers and meat pounders! Do the nuts still fly all over the place - like 30 feet away from the cracker?

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    Replies
    1. No, the black walnut cracker was a far better experience. We did it on a small card table and the biggest challenge was separating the shell from the meat.

      I recently saw an ad where someone will ship you uncracked, cured black walnuts. They did half the work by gathering them, removing the thick outer skin, and curing them. Instead of a u-pick it's a u-crack.

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    2. Well that does sound more promising. Those are the hardest nut shells I've ever tried to crack. I do have a hardcore nutcracker that my father-in-law brought me from Texas. It was made for cracking pecans (called "The York" Nut Sheller from Texas). It is extremely powerful and has very sharp teeth on it, so I used that to help me get the nutmeats out, once I cracked the nuts into small enough (pecan-size) pieces, as well as picks, and the old-fashioned simple kind of nutcrackers. But it was very hard work, because the shells are just so hard. You know how it is - you can't get the meats out without crumbling them.

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    3. I see they are available ready-to-use, or ready-to-crack, from Hammons Nut Emporium, and that place also has a "Get Cracking Nutcracker" that is touted as "freestanding and easy to use". Quite a claim. They also say they have two kinds of black walnuts - the original kind "Grandma" would have had in her yard, or a smoother tasting, orchard-grown variety. I might order from this company the next time I need black walnuts.

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