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Fuller's Walnut Cake

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I am an occasional vistor to this site and hoped this may be of interest. I have searched for the recipe on the web and have not found any references to a recipe of any sort.

Quite a few years ago I cut out a recipe for Fuller’s Walnut Cake out of the The (London) Times written by Shoona Crawford Poole. The cutting was not complete, as I had omitted the pre-amble. I recently noticed that, via my library, I had access to The Times archive and on searching found the complete article:

The Times,Wednesday, Oct 05, 1983; pg. 13; Issue 61655; col C

The Times Cook Shona Crawford Poole, A classic in cakes

Category: News

In the pre-amble she relates how she and her husband re-created the recipe at the request of a reader who reminisced about having the walnut cake as a school holiday treat after spending her pocket money at Hamley’s.

Shoona also referred to the evocation of the cakes' treat status for an earlier generation of children in Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate, "Oh. Mrs Heathery. You angel on earth, not Fuller's walnut? How can you afford it" I have subsequently found that it also mentioned in Brideshead Revisted. Charles relates on going up to Oxford and meeting his cousin Jasper “He called on me formally during my first week and stayed to tea; he ate a very heavy meal of honey-buns, anchovy toast and Fuller's walnut cake, then he lit his pipe and, lying back in the basket-chair, laid down the rules of conduct which I should follow; he covered most subjects; even to-day I could repeat much of what he said” Brideshead Revisted, Chapter one

According to the J. Lyons & Co website the company was founded by an American William Bruce Fuller who “demonstrated his Fudge, Peppermint Lumps and Walnut Cake” in the UK. He subsequently opened a shop in Oxford St and over the years expanded. By the 1950’s they had 82 shops and continued to expand until they were finally taken over by Lyons at the end of 1968. According to Shoona in 1983 the cake was last produced commercially by Fuller's in 1969.

There is currently at least one company in the UK making a version of "Fuller's Walnut Cake", Okemoor Products in Okehampton, Devon.

The ingredients, with my own precis of the method are as follows:

Fuller's Walnut Cake

A classic in cakes

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

Decoration

• 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.

I don’t have the 3 tins, but I have a deep 6” tin and I slice the cake before spreading the icing.

Since Fuller was American it possible that it may be a traditional recipe known by a different name, but I can't say I have seem anything similar.

Deryck

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This recipe is very similar to one I remember making while at the Tante Marie Cookery School , Woking, way back in 1976.

If I remember it was simply called American Walnut Cake. It was the first time I had seen the boiled icing which I loved then, but I think I would find too sweet now.

Your post brought back happy memories of making this.

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The cake does seem to bring back memories for a lot of people.

Tried making it again today, using a single tin takes too long in our new cooker so it turned out a bit drier than it should be:

My amateurish attempt at icing the cake:

gallery_25608_4881_70020.jpg

and a slice

gallery_25608_4881_62116.jpg

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The cake does seem to bring back memories for a lot of people.

Tried making it again today, using a single tin takes too long in our new cooker so it turned out a bit drier than it should be:

My amateurish attempt at icing the cake:

gallery_25608_4881_70020.jpg

and a slice

gallery_25608_4881_62116.jpg

Nice looking pictures...A better icing job than I could do...I stick mostly to fancified Bundt pan cakes with glazes.

I thought the recipe required 3 layers to the cake with butter cream in between the layers? That would effect the flavour...making the cake less dry tasting. Not that yours didn't look tasty

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Hahabogus

There are 3 layers, just rather hard to spot, maybe it should have a bit more butter cream to do 2 layers. I will probably try making in it normal sandwich cake tins which should improve the cake. The 6" tins that I have are for fruit cakes and have an insulated base. Not ideal for this type of cake.

sugarseattle

Maple buttercream sounds like it would go well with the cake.

A bit more searching reveals that the original most likely had 12 half walnuts around the outside. I did read that the icing may have been light brown and a walnut butter cream, but that does not seem quite right to me.

Fuller's ran the tearoom for the London Coliseum, on this page is a reproduction of postcard showing the tea-room in 1904 staffed by ladies in black and white uniform.


Edited by broadway (log)

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Hahabogus

There are 3 layers, just rather hard to spot, maybe it should have a bit more butter cream to do 2 layers. I will probably try making in it normal sandwich cake tins which should improve the cake. The 6" tins that I have are for fruit cakes and have an insulated base. Not ideal for this type of cake.

sugarseattle

Maple buttercream sounds like it would go well with the cake.

A bit more searching reveals that the original most likely had 12 half walnuts around the outside. I did read that the icing may have been light brown and a walnut butter cream, but that does not seem quite right to me.

Fuller's ran the tearoom for the London Coliseum, on this page is a reproduction of postcard showing the tea-room in 1904 staffed by ladies in black and white uniform.

Yes I see that now and it still looks good.

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Oh my goodness. I had this cake back in 1975 for one of my bridal showers. I never did find out who made the cake and was very disappointed that I could not duplicate the cake. I will have to try this and see if it is the same cake. From my somewhat sound memory the cake was very light and the walnuts seemed to be chopped very fine yet still large enough to know that they were walnuts.

Ooooo! Thanks! :wub:


"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

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