Tree Nut Cake by Magda Sanders of Magda’s Cakes in Cherokee. Photograph by Christopher Shane
A Sweet Season
Give thanks for desserts with this scrumptious recipe by Cherokee-based Magda’s Cakes
written by Constance E. Richards
With the holidays upon us, let the feasting commence. In our November/December issue, we highlight the most tempting eats of the season in the article “Sweet Sensations,” which features five delectable desserts from local bakers. Magda Sanders’ light-as-air Tree Nut Cake is great for any holiday celebration.
Growing up in Poland, Magda Sanders loved the baking and cooking traditions of the holidays. Today, the Cherokee-based baker creates spectacular cakes with family recipes, which means many feature European-style hazelnut creams, nut flours, and fresh fruit.
Her nut torte offers feather-light layers, flavored with brandy and iced with whipped-cream filling. “After the holiday dinner, when everybody is full from eating all kinds of savory dishes, this butter-less cake is a perfect choice,” says Sanders. “It’s light, not too sweet, but still has a holiday feel about it with the mixture of tree nuts.”
Tree Nut Cake
5 Tbs. sugar
1⅓ cups walnuts, ground
5 Tbs. flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottoms of two nine-inch pans. Separate egg whites and yolks. Whip egg whites, and add sugar. Add yolks, stirring lightly. Stir in nuts with a spatula. In a bowl, mix flour and baking powder, then add to egg mixture, folding in gently with a spatula. Pour into pans and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. (Don’t open the oven early because the cakes may collapse.) Allow to cool slightly for 15 minutes, and gently lift cakes from pans.
2 cups milk
16 pecan halves
2 cups pecans, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 qt. heavy whipping cream
4 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 Tbs. Nutella
In a saucepan, boil milk. Add pecan halves and chopped pecans and remove from heat. Let soak for 10 minutes, then strain nuts. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix pecans with sugar to coat, then arrange in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Toast for about six minutes (watch closely, because pecans burn easily); allow to cool. Using a mixer, whip cream and confectioners’ sugar on high until light and fluffy. Reserve half the cream to ice the cake. Divide the remainder of the cream in half, mixing one portion with Nutella, and folding one and one-third cups of chopped pecans into the second portion.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brandy
Prepare simple syrup by heating sugar and water in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add brandy and stir. Cut each cake into two layers. Drizzle each layer with simple syrup. Stacking the cakes, spread half the pecan cream on the first layer; the Nutella mixture on the second; pecan cream on the third; and top with the fourth layer of cake. Using a spatula, ice cake with plain whipped cream. Press remaining sugared pecans onto side of cake; decorate the top with pecan halves. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Click here to read the full story, featuring a vegan, gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe.
And if pumpkin goodies are what you crave for next week’s feast, we offer recipes for a Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Gooey Treats , and Sorghum Spice Pumpkin Pie from our archives.