Opa's Walnut Torte
MAKES ONE 9" TORTE
Laszlo Steinberger (Opa) learned this recipe from his stepmother who usually frosted her walnut torte with mocha cream; he prefers sweetened whipped cream.
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
10 oz. shelled walnuts plus 8 shelled walnut halves
10 eggs, seperated
14 heaping tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 round 9" cake pans with 1 tbsp. of the butter, line bottom of pans with parchment paper, then grease paper in each pan with remaining butter. Coat cake pans with a thin layer of bread crumbs and set pans aside. Using a nut grinder, finely grind 10 oz. of the walnuts (do not use a food processor or coffee grinder; the results will be too oily and dense), then set them aside.
2. Put egg yolks and 10 tbsp. of the sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale yellow, 6–7 minutes. Sprinkle one-third of the ground nuts over yolk mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Repeat the process twice to use up the remaining ground nuts. (Batter will be thick and stiff.) Set aside.
3. Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in a medium mixing bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2–3 minutes. Gently fold one-third of the whites at a time into nut mixture, folding until just combined after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans; lightly rap pans on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles. Bake tortes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Let tortes cool in pans for 15 minutes, invert onto a wire rack, peel off parchment paper, and let cool completely.
4. Whip cream and remaining sugar together in large mixing bowl on high speed until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Put 1 torte layer on a cake plate; spread one-third of the whipped cream on top. Set remaining torte layer on top of the frost sides and top woth remaining whipped cream. Decorate torte with walnut halves.