Around the World in 80 Bakes: Gâteau Rocamadour

Christmas week and I should be in France visiting Papa Blue. However, there’s this thing called Covid which means that travels are temporarily verboten. So, what to do when I need the taste of the Corrèze? Bake a gâteau aux noix of course! Papa Blue lives in proper walnut country, on the Route de la Noix, in a converted walnut mill, with a proper walnut orchard on his land. Indeed, one of the local delicacies is this walnut cake, which is boxed up and sold as a souvenir of Rocamadour. Hence, I call it ‘Rocamadour Cake’, although it has no real connection to that famous focus of religious pilgrimage other than Rocamadour being slap-bang in the middle of walnut country. The cake is kind of like a walnut brownie, that is to say, it’s got a crusty top and a moist body. This is a super easy recipe and hardly constitutes a flexing of the pâtissière’s muscles. It does, however, taste spectacularly good and keeps for over a week, getting better as it matures (like us all, darling)…

  • 225g chopped walnuts
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs (room temp)
  • 150g slightly salted butter
  • 50g plain flour, sieved
  • a decent glug of brandy (about 1½ tbsp)
  • a handful of walnut halves for decoration
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 130°C fan (150°C conventional); grease and line an 8″ cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon until it gets to that pale and fluffy stage.
  3. Incorporate the walnuts, flour, eggs and brandy with the sugar/butter, mixing vigorously with a whip of the wrist to get a nice, aerated batter.
  4. Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake for about an hour (as all ovens vary, do the skewer test from about 50 mins to check when it’s done); at about twenty minutes into the cooking time, quickly open the oven door and pop the walnut halves on top of the cake for decoration (if you do this while the batter is raw, the walnuts will sink into the mixture and it will be décorations disparues!)
  5. Remove from the oven when it’s done and leave it to cool before turning out.