Hungarian Walnut Torte

I purchased A Baker’s Odyssey years ago and haven’t really baked much from it. Yesterday, in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen, I pulled it out and started looking. Maddy joined me and we decided on the Hungarian Walnut Torte.

This recipe is quite time consuming but well worth the effort. We skipped the chocolate in the frosting and added chocolate covered coffee beans to garnish. And Maddy did a beautiful job frosting the cake! Sorry there are not more photos but it was a last minute thought to blog.

Hungarian Walnut Torte


  • Fine dry bread crumbs for the pans
  • 12 oz (3 generous cups) walnuts
  • 3 oz fresh bread crumbs (3-4 crustless, day old bread)
  • 12 lg. eggs, separated
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mocha Whipped Cream

  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. instant espresso
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate


  • Chocolate covered coffee beans

To make the torte: Adjust two oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper circles and butter the paper. Dust the pans with fine dry bread crumbs and tap out the excess bread crumbs.

Finely grind the walnuts. Put nuts in medium bowl and stir in bread crumbs or process them in a food processor, fitted with metal blade. Pulse the nuts and crumbs in rapid on/off bursts until the nuts feel powdery and look fluffy; you want the walnuts to be as fine as possible without them becoming pasty. Stop often to scrape the work bowl. Transfer the nut/crumb mixture to a medium bowl.

Beat the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixture with the whip attachment on high speed until thick and lemon colored, 3-5 minutes. Beating on medium speed, gradually add a half cup of the sugar, scrape the bowl and beat on high for about 5 minutes more until the yolks are very thick and pale and form a slowly dissolving ribbon as they fall off the beaters. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Scrape the yolks into a large wide bowl and wash and dry and the bowl and beaters.

In the clean bowl whip the whites with the salt on medium speed until they have thickened to the point that the beaters leave traces in the whites. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 c. sugar and continue beating until the whites form stiff, shiny, creamy peaks that curl slightly at their tips.

Sprinkle about 1/4 of the nut mixture over the yolks, add about 1/4 of the whites and fold everything together very gently with just a few broad strokes of a rubber spatula, so as to deflate the batter as little as possible. It’s alright if streaks of white remain at this point. Repeat with the remaining nuts and whites in three additions, folding in the last addition just until no whites show. The batter should look light and airy. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pan and rotate each pan gently on the counter top to level the batter.

Place the pans in the oven, two on the upper rack and one on the lower rack. Bake 20-25 minutes until the layers are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. The bottom layer may be baked a minute or two before the other layers. Cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes. The cakes will settle on cooling and be about 1″ tall.

Release the layers from the sides of the pan by running the tip of a sharp knife around them. Cover each layer with a wire rack and invert. Carefully lift off the pan and peel off the paper. Cover the layer with another rack and invert again to cool right side up.

To make the mocha whipped cream, put the water, instant espresso and sugar in a small heavy saucepan (don’t stir), set the pan over medium-low heat, and slowly bring the liquid to a simmer. Swirl the pan by its handle to dissolve the espresso powder and sugar and cook 2-3 minutes more, until the liquid is syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Combine the cream, syrup and vanilla in a large bowl and whip on medium-high speed until the cream holds a firm shape. Fold in the grated chocolate.

To fill and frost the cake, arrange four strips of waxed paper in a square pattern around the edges of a cake plate. Set one cake layer right side up on the plate, with the edges of the waxed paper strips just under the edges of the cake. Use a narrow metal spatula to spread the layer with about 1 cup of the whipped cream. Place a second layer right side up and spread it with another 1 cup of cream. Set the third layer right side up on top and spread the remaining whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake, making it thicker on top then on the sides. Decorate the top with chocolate-coated coffee beans or candied violets. Carefully remove the strips of the waxed paper by pulling them toward you gently by the short end. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

To serve, cut the cake into portions with a sharp knife. Let come to room temperature before serving.


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