Friday, March 18, 2011

Fuller's Walnut Cake

When I was eight or nine, my great-aunt Ada used to have a tradition. If her friend Sophie Gill came to tea, then she would go into town and buy Fuller's Walnut Cake and serve it, along with the requisite Fresh Pot of Tea.

I still remember that cake - it had TWO icings: one soft, inner icing, and one crunchy outer layer that was the color of café au lait. The cake itself was incredibly moist and filled with crushed walnuts, and the entire thing was crowned with walnut halves in a circle.

I'm not the only one who remembers that cake. A few years ago I researched it, hoping to find a source or at least a recipe. Horrors, Fullers had gone out of business, taking their cakes with them (there was also a wonderful chocolate version, crowned with chocolate "buttons.")

My research brought me to blogs mourning the lack of Fuller's Walnut Cake and yearning for a bite or a recipe. I searched again and again, on different search engines and all types of social media, but "not a sausage," to quote another disappointed blogger.

A few months ago, my virtual expedition discovered buried treasure. It is with great pride that I present to you the recipe for Fuller's Walnut Cake. And if anyone has the recipe for the chocolate version, please let me know posthaste.

Fuller's Walnut Cake

• 200g (7 oz) plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 200g (7 oz) unsalted butter
• 200g (7 oz) caster sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 55g (2oz) chopped walnuts

Butter cream
• 85g (3oz) unsalted butter
• 110g (4oz) icing sugar
• Vanilla extract to taste

Boiled icing
• 225g (8 oz) caster sugar
• Pinch of cream of tartar
• 1 egg white
• Vanilla extract to taste

• 7 walnut halves

3 6” cake tins 2” deep

Line Pans with buttered greaseproof paper

Sift the flour and baking powder. Cream butter and sugar until light and beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture followed by the chopped walnuts.

Divide the mixture between the three tins and bake at 160° C/ 325 F, Gas Mark 3 for 30-40 minutes. Rest for 5-10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Beat butter until light and then beat in the icing sugar. Add vanilla essence to taste.
Trim the tops of the cakes and sandwich together with the butter icing. Smooth the remainder over the outside of the cake.

Prepare the boiled icing, dissolve the sugar and 4 tbps of water over a low heat. Dissolve the cream of tartar in a teaspoon of water and add to the sugar mixture. Boil until soft ball stage is reached (240° F).
While the syrup is boiling whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Once the syrup has reached softball pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream while continue to whisk. Continue whisking until the meringue is thick, opaque and stiff.. Add vanilla essence and pour the icing over the cake. Smooth with a wet knife and decorate with 7 walnut halves (six on the outside and one in the middle).
Leave for a couple of hours for the icing to form a crust.

(This recipe was originally published in The London Times by Shona Crawford Poole as a different version: The Times,Wednesday, Oct 05, 1983; pg. 13; Issue 61655; col C . However, it was tweaked by a forum writer known as 'broadway', found here. That recipe was the closest to the Walnut cake I knew and loved as a girl, so I used it.)


Julianne Marie Carlile said...

I want to make this cake.

Alison DeLuca said...

It is delicious!

JennyM said...

Thank you! we used to visit my grandmother who lived off Fleet St in the City of London and always had fullers walnut cake for tea - I've searched and searched for it or the recipe and here it is - I'll try it out

JennyM said...

Thank you! I used to eat this whenever we visited my grandmother in central London. Have searched for it or the recipe - now I can try making it!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Been searching for this recipe for years!
We had it for a treat when I was a child in the sixties and it was so exciting when my mother brought one home for tea.

Alison DeLuca said...

I'm so glad I could help! I know the feeling - I searched for years as well and was so excited to find it I simply had to share.

Deirdre Barker said...

At last the recipe. I've often wondered what happened to Fullers. In the '60's I worked in a City branch of Lloyds Bank and Fullers Walnut Cake used to be the cake to have whenever there was a birthday. At 6s/6p it was thought to be a real luxury!

Alison DeLuca said...

fullers was the best. Did you ever have their chocolate button cake with cappucino cream in the middle? It was pure heaven.

Ian Coleman said...

Today I was sorting boxes of stuff tucked away after clearing my mother's house in 1994(!) and squirreled away. There was a box of negatives which I must print. However, it was the box that brought back bitter-sweet memories. It once contained a Fuller's Walnut Layer Cake. This epitome of luxury and decadence appeared in our working class home once a year when my father bought one home for my mother's birthday. Could I still get one I asked the web? No I couldn't, but thanks to you my wife can try and produce one! (I won't as I can burn water). TVM.

Alison DeLuca said...

How wonderful to find an original box! Good luck with the baking, and please let me know if this version comes close to the wonderful cake we all remember.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for recipe.
Whenever there was a special occasion my mother used to buy Fullers Lemon Layer cake which was covered with icing which had this delicious crispy coating on the outside but delightful soft lemon flavoured dreamy / creamy icing underneath! It was such a treat!

Alison DeLuca said...

Oh my! I never had the lemon version, and it sounds amazing.

Ally said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I love Nancy Mitford's novels, and this cake gets a prominent mention. I'll be making this for a delicious tea.

Alison DeLuca said...

We should be friends. I love the Mitford novels, and the mention of Fuller's always made my mouth water.

So glad I could help. Have a wonderful tea-time!

Ally said...

Back to follow up. I made your recipe at Christmas and it was amazing. The top icing was the most complicated I'd ever made but it came out great. Since I didn't have a suitable thermometer, I checked out a YouTube video on boiled icing and went by what it looked like to estimate the correct temperature (plus the soft ball test). So tasty! I think I will make it every year, but only once a year, because it's deliciously rich. Thanks again!

Alison DeLuca said...

Yes, it's definitely a cake for occasions rather than every day. I'm so glad the recipe helped!

Unknown said...

Thank you for putting the Fullers Walnut Cake recipe on the net .
I used to hear my Mother talk about having it as a treat in the Lyons tea/coffee house in London after the War. Its the icing I am after that she was so mad for.
As she is not with us any more I thought I would never know how to make it.
So happy I can make it now.

David K said...

I made this. Absolute perfection! Thank you Alison. I made once and half times the butter cream and put two shots of espresso into it and it brought a great coffee flavour to the cake. The meringue shell frosting really came into it's own the second day, it was so perfectly crisp and sweet!

Alison DeLuca said...

I'm thrilled the recipe worked for you, and I love your addition of the espresso.