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Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Lightly oil two 20cm sandwich tins. Line the base of each with baking paper. Lightly oil.
To make the walnut cake, roughly chop 85g walnuts using a sharp knife, and saving all their crumbs. They should be smaller than the chopped walnuts you can buy.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the first two eggs. Fold in 1 tbsp of flour, then beat in the last egg. Tip in the flour and walnuts and lightly fold into the butter mixture. Divide evenly between the two sandwich tins and smooth over the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the sponge springs back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and peel off the baking paper. Leave until cold. To make the buttercream filling, beat thebutter until pale and fluffy, then beat in theicing sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract,to taste. Once the cakes are cold, sandwichthem together with the butter cream.
To make the boiled icing, put the sugar in a saucepan, add 150ml water and clip a sugar thermometer on to the side of the pan. Set over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the glucose syrup. Bring to the boil and, when it gets very close to 116C, start whisking the egg whites to stiff peaks using an electric whisk. As soon as the syrup reaches 116C, continue to whisk as you pour a thin stream of syrup into the egg whites. The mixture will billow up into a thick, opaque meringue and then collapse down again slightly. Whisk in the vanilla, and after a couple of minutes pour the icing over the cake. Don’t leave too long as it thickens as it cools. Using a wet palette knife, smooth the icing over the cake.
Decorate with the walnut halves. Leave for 2-3 hours or until the icing is firm.
*Recipe adapted from National Trust Simply Baking by Sybil Kapoor (National Trust Books, £25)