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Orechova Torta (Walnut Cake)

January 20, 2010

Orechova Torta

This cake brings back such sweet memories from my childhood. Walnut cake was my favorite cake for many years.  My Grandfather, Pauline’s husband, Jerry, also loved this cake. When he was visiting us once in the 1980’s, he tried to make it from memory, and I remember he tried and tried, going through at least 5 dozen eggs before he had perfected it. In his version, he used coffee instead of rum, and 1 dozen eggs, separated the egg whites and whipped them, and made 4 layers.

The cake layers are short and moist, and although dense they are not heavy. It’s really a walnut souffle, when you think about it.  This is a good recipe for those with gluten intolerance, as it hardly has any flour in it, and if you wanted to, you could probably eliminate the spoonful, and add a bit more ground nuts. You can also experiment with other nuts.  There is also no fat in the cake, except fat from the eggs and nuts, of which there is less than 1/2 gram of trans fat per serving.  Walnuts are a better source of essential omega 3 fatty acids than olive oil and fish, so eating this cake is actually good for you, or so I tell myself.

Walnuts are a common nut in Slovakia.  About 1 ½ hrs from Bratislava is a small village called Orechova where there are  internationally recognized wineries.  They are known for a sweet wine made in oak barrels. Mmmm…. A glass of sweet wine with a slice of this cake would hit the spot right about now.

Decorate the cake with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts on top.

Cake Ingredients:

6 whole eggs

28 dg of sugar (1 ¼ cups)

2 Tbsp rum

28 dg ground walnuts (1 ¼ cups)

Little bit of lemon peel

1 Tbsp of flour


Mix above ingredients together (I mixed the eggs and sugar on medium high for 3 min first), and bake in two greased and floured 8” baking pans at 350 degrees for 20 min, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

Chocolate Icing:

This icing will turn out like a thin layer of fudge on top of the cake. Mmm….

3 oz good quality semi or bittersweet chocolate

1 dl water (1/3 cup)

25 dg sugar (1 1/8 cups)

Mix together on the stove at a medium setting until thick, stirring continuously, and then spread in between cake layers, and over the cake.  The icing is smooth.  This cake is also good with a rich mocha butter cream icing.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. sylvia permalink
    January 20, 2010 2:23 pm

    I promise to make the Walnut Cake (Torta) Looks very good…mmmmmm…

    • January 20, 2010 10:03 pm

      You should. I, groan, just ate half of the whole cake today!! It was very tasty, easy and fast to make.

  2. clatterbach permalink
    January 20, 2010 5:01 pm

    This is great, and somehow not what I would have expected, what with there being so little flour in the cake. I also really like the anecdote about your grandfather. The stereotype of Slovakian, and indeed Czech, culture would often, I think, be one of a very gendered society where women cook and men do men’s work, whatever that may be, and sit around drinking beer and slivovice. Sometimes there is an element of this. (Sometimes there is a little more than that.) The idea of your grandfather trying again and again until he gets it right gives the lie to this stereotype being as rigid as some people may think in a very human way.

    I have to avoid gluten myself, and yes, I reckon you could either replace the flour with rice flour or more ground nuts. I have certainly cooked flourless cakes with ground almonds before so there should be no reason for this not to work.

    I’m still waiting for enough people to visit so I can make the Medovnik! Lovely cake. This looks great too.

    • January 20, 2010 6:11 pm

      I confess, I baked the cake this morning, and I have eaten more than 1/2 of it. The cake layers turned out somewhat bubbly and uneven, and like flat, firm omelettes. But once they were assembled, it looked quite good (see pic), and tasted scrumptious. The icing firms up and tastes like fudge, and my dad reports grandma made icing this all the time.

  3. Lily permalink
    January 20, 2010 6:12 pm

    Grampa Shuster also made this cake at our home. Even after all the practice he had at your place he still went through many eggs and a couple of pounds of butter. Instead of walnuts he used hazel nuts and I must admit the final product was delicious.

    Keep up the great work,am learning more and more about our family and our roots.


    • January 20, 2010 6:20 pm

      Ha, I bet it didn’t contain as much butter as the Butter Cake! It’s like eating a stick of butter (actually, it IS eating a stick of butter).

      Wait until you see what happens next in the story – rocks thrown, gold stolen, big furry coats.

  4. georgann permalink
    December 28, 2010 10:46 pm

    This is very similar to a recipe that I’ve been looking for that my husband’s grandmother used to make. She always called it “Nicky’s cake” after my husband! I watched her make it once and took notes as best I could, but she never had a written recipe and she didn’t use measuring spoons. Whenever I try to make it, it just doesn’t turn out right. I was curious, in the version your Grandfather made, with the dozen separated eggs (whites whipped), would you double the rest of your recipe? Anyway, she made it in a springform pan and cut it into layers…what a pain! I will try making the layers separate next time, since my cake always falls in the middle when I remove it from the oven. Also, she covered the layers with a decadent coffee butter icing and apricot preserves. Since she passed away we now call this cake, “Baba’s Cake” instead of Nicky’s.

    • December 29, 2010 12:09 am

      We just made this cake again the other night for Christmas dinner and made the coffee butter icing that was very decadent (I also added some dark chocolate and rum). And yes, we made it with 12 eggs. It made enough for 3 nine inch layers, and it turned out to be a beautiful cake, both to look at and to eat. Even 3 days later it is still moist and delicious.

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