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Thursday, July 12, 2012

REMEMBERING MY GRANDMOTHER'S ENGLISH STRAWBERRY WALNUT TORTE

My grandmother was a huge influence on me.  One of her greatest gifts to me was her talent for cooking and baking.  She did everything from scratch and never had to measure.  I remember her teaching me the basics of her craft from a very young age.  She taught me so well that by the time I was 9 years old, I was baking pies from scratch on my own.  I remember being so bored in home-economics classes at school because I had already done these things with my grandmother.

My grandmother must have seen the interest for cooking and baking in me and she took the opportunity to pass down her knowledge.  My memories are filled with her teachings of cooking and baking, especially on summer breaks and holidays.  Even though she has passed on, her legacy lives in me and she is never far from my thoughts when I cook and bake.

One of her recipes was this English Strawberry Walnut Torte.  She would make this cake for church suppers, or gatherings.  The minister of our church would find out that she was baking it and he had to get his hands on it first.  Whatever gatherings she made it for, there would be no leftovers to take home.

This recipe is an original creation by my grandmother.  I have researched this recipe and cannot find another that matches it.  It is very unique since it contains zero flour.  I made this cake, yesterday, for the first time since I was a teenager.  It was the first attempt to make this torte on my own without the help of my grandmother.  Some how, though, it felt that she was right there with me, smiling.

I dedicate this delicate, but grand masterpiece to my grandmother, Marjorie P. Holmes, who continues to inspire me.

ENGLISH STRAWBERRY WALNUT TORTE

Courtesy of and Adapted from the creation of Marjorie P. Holmes

 
Preparation Time:  2 hours
Total Time:  2 hours, 20 minutes
Serves 8-10

Torte Ingredients:
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
2 cups walnuts, very finely ground to a powder (use a food processor)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Torte Instructions:

Prepare three cake pans lines with parchment paper on the bottom and lightly greased around the sides.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until very stiff.  In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vegetable oil until thick and pale yellow.  In another bowl, combine the ground walnuts and baking powder.  Add the ground walnut mixture to the egg yolks mixture and mix thoroughly.  Gently fold in the egg yolk/ground walnut mixture into the egg whites.  Pour the completed batter into the lined and greased cake pans.  Bake 18-20 minutes until lightly browned.  Take the cake pans out of the oven and let cool for 2 minutes.  Gently flip the pans upside-down over the cooling racks and slowly remove the parchment paper.  Allow the cakes to completely cool.




Filling/Frosting Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of frozen strawberries, diced or chopped (use a food processor)
1 pint of heavy or whipping cream
1/4 cup of sugar

Filling/Frosting Instructions:

Drain the strawberries in a mesh colander over a bowl and press the liquid out using the backside of a metal spoon until you have a puree.


Scrape the strawberry puree into a small bowl, set aside.  Gently whip the cream until very stiff, adding the sugar while whipping.  Gently fold in the strawberry puree.


Assembly:

Using a frosting knife, take a little of the strawberry whipped cream mixture and smear it on the center of the cake plate (this will help the cake to stay in place during assembly).  Assemble torte layers, adding the filling between each layer.  Apply the remaining filling/frosting on the top and sides of the cake, a little at a time.  Decorate the top of the cake with either fresh or frozen strawberries.  Refrigerate until served.

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