Every once in a while, I come across a cookbook that I absolutely love. A cookbook where I want to make every recipe in the book, where I want to step into the book and join their kitchen, where I want to curl up on the couch and read the book all morning.
For about a year now, The Violet Bakery Cookbook has been on my radar. I heard about the delicious less-sweet desserts filled with fruits (loganberries! blueberries!) and unique flours (oats! rye!), but I wasn’t ready yet to commit to the cookbook. Food52’s Piglet, aka March Madness style cookbook competition, left me cheering for The Violet Bakery Cookbook.
The author, Claire Ptak, founded The Violet Bakery in London after training at Chez Panisse. A San Francisco lady who opens up a bakery in London, serving the cutest violet cupcakes and coffee cakes…where I can sign up?
One of my favorite aspects of this cookbook is how easy-going the recipes are. No fancy yeast pastries that take all night to rise, no finicky flaky pastries with thousands of steps to assemble. Given The Violet Bakery’s small space, they veer towards homier, cozier pastries that are more straightforward for the home chef.
A few weeks ago, we went to a fun Indian-themed brunch–dosas, samosas, and mimosas! I loved the theme and wanted to contribute something sweet to share. These coffee cakes not only looked cute as a button, but also matched the spicy food with a kick of its own thanks to cardamom.
Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes
Makes 12 individual cakes
- melted butter, for greasing the pans
- 2 1/2 ounces walnuts
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly brewed strong coffee or espresso
Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Brush a 12 cup muff pan with the melted butter.
First, warm the walnuts through on a baking sheet in the oven. Do not toast them; you just want to bring out the fragrant oils/ This should take less than 5 minutes. Let the nuts cool slightly, then chop fine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, then whisk this mixture through the chopped nuts. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated, then add the vanilla extract. Mix in the flour and nut mixture and then the creme fraiche.
Divide the batter among the 12 wells and bake for 20 minutes until the cakes spring back to the touch. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then gently pop them out (you may need to run a small paring knife around the insides of the wells to ease the cakes out). Place the cooled cakes upside down on a wire rack.
Whisk together the ingredients for the icing and spoon it over the cakes. Use the back of a spoon to gently guide it to the edges so that it willingly drips down the sides.