This "Black Walnut Cherry Cake" is a creation of my mother's and I think it's just a perfect Christmas cake with it's red and white colors. So many of you have asked about a walnut cake and because I am extremely allergic to black walnuts, I have not gotten around to making a cake with them. I do love the unique flavor of black walnuts, they just don't love me. Black Walnuts were used much more frequently in baking years ago than they are now.
They grow abundantly in our area of the country, although not as abundantly as they once did. Folks would go out and gather them after they fell from the tree. The process of getting them out of the shell is a labor intensive or just annoying one. First, you have to remove the green hull around the harder shell. Some people would lay them out on the driveway and run over them with the car to do this. Wear gloves when handling, because they stain your hands and anything else they touch. Once that outer hull comes off, you lay the nut itself out to dry. After they dry out for several days, you have to crack the hard shell with a hammer or mallet. Then you can pick the meat out of the shell with a pick, which is not an easy task either. No wonder they are scarce and cost a fortune if you buy them. They do give whatever you use them in, a really unique and good flavor. Here is what you will need for this delicious Black Walnut Cherry Cake:
1/2 cup shortening (can use vegetable or canola oil)
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1 cup black walnuts, chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese (softened)
1 stick of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
2 lbs. confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cherry pie filling
***This is a double recipe of cream cheese frosting, which you will need if you are going to pipe around the top and bottom. I you are skipping that step, you can make just half this much.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the shortening, butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternating between the two and mixing just until it is well blended. Add in the vanilla. Fold in the cherries and black walnuts.
Divide evenly between two 9" cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick baking spray or buttered and floured. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
Turn out and cool completely before frosting.
To prepare the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer. Add vanilla. Slowly beat in the confectioners sugar.
Frost the cake as usual for a layered cake. If you are piping around the top and bottom, place about 2 cups of frosting in a decorator's bag with a tip and pipe as shown in the picture. This frosting will pipe easier if you chill the amount you are piping first. If it seems too soft to pipe, just add a bit more confectioners sugar. Be sure to also use full fat cream cheese and butter.
After you have piped around the top, spread the 1 cup cherry pie filling in center and then gently spread to the edges. The piping will hold it on top until you cut the cake. If you do not pipe around the top, put the cherry pie filling in the center of the cake and it let it just run over the sides naturally. Both ways are very pretty. Refrigerate after decorating, if you are not serving immediately.