Our walnut tree, which teeters on the edge of the millstream, gave us 10 kilos of nuts this year. Not a lot as walnut trees go, but plenty for our own use. We had to say "thanks but no thanks" to all those kind people who wanted to give us more walnuts!
We find a mole wrench works better than any nutcrackers to get at the meat inside. Today I made a Banana Date and Walnut cake to cheer myself up on a dreary drizzly afternoon. A little research told me that levure chimique is baking powder. One sachet contains two level teaspoons - perfect for this recipe.
180g whole dried dates, or 160g stoned dates
75 ml dark rum, or other alcoholic beverage of choice / what you have (I like Stroh rum best!)
175g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter, softened (in the microwave, a blast of 30 seconds, beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon, give it a few more seconds if there are still lumps)
2 large eggs
4 small/2 large etc but about 300g without skin, VERY ripe bananas, mashed
60g walnuts (optional if you really are allergic)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare a 23x13x7cm (2lb) loaf tin, buttered & floured (or it won't come out!) or paper lined.
Stone and chop the dates to what ever size you like, put them in a small pan with the rum, and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and leave for at least 1 hour, until all the liquid has been absorbed (otherwise the mixture curdles).
Set your oven to heat to Gas mark 3, 170C.
In a medium sized bowl or jug, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt.
In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until blended. Sneaky tip - I microwaved the butter in this bowl, to save washing up / wasted butter! Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the mashed banana.
Stir in dates, walnuts, vanilla extract. Add the flour mix, 1/3 at a time, stirring well after each addition. The resulting mixture is quite sloppy.
Pour/scrape the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in the middle of the oven for 60 - 90 minutes, until a fine skewer or sharp knife comes out "cleanish". Leave the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool before turning it out.
This also makes a super winter dessert with crème crue and bottled cherries.