This Black Walnut Cake is a delicious, unique, and festive Christmas cake idea. Decorated with sugared cranberries, sprigs of rosemary, and black walnuts, it’s a cake that will also look beautiful on your holiday table.
Black Walnut Christmas Cake
It’s been a hot minute since I made a layer cake recipe here on Inspired by Charm. That’s why I thought I’d bust out my baking pans and whip up this wonderfully tasty traditional Black Walnut Cake. I’ve dressed up like a Christmas cake, making it perfect for any holiday celebration.
And if you’re looking for holiday sweets, you’ve come to the right place. Today I’ve teamed up again with my Tastes of the Seasons blogger friends. Each of us is sharing a delicious holiday dessert. I got a sneak peek at the list and can hardly wait to try the recipes. (Deciding which ones to make is going to be difficult!) You can find all of the recipes linked at the end of this post.
And if you all the details on this beautiful Christmas table, I have them for you. Check out this post here for lots of pictures and sources.
But first, let’s talk about this Black Walnut Cake!
What Are Black Walnuts?
You may be wondering what black walnuts are. They are similar to regular walnuts, but they have a distinct flavor that’s bolder and earthier.
To me, black walnuts smell a little like anise. That concerned me because I’m not a fan of anise flavor. However, once I tasted the result, I was so impressed and delighted with the flavor they added to the cake. It’s a warm, spicy, and comforting flavor that is perfect for the holiday.
I purchased mine here, but I’ve also seen them at my local grocery store.
How to Make a Black Walnut Cake?
If you’ve ever made a homemade cake, the process for making this Christmas cake is quite similar. The only difference is that you fold in black walnuts at the end.
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients; then set them aside. (The full recipe and ingredient list can be found in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.)
Next, in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Then beat in the eggs (one at a time) along with vanilla extract.
Now add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with buttermilk. The buttermilk gives a creamy richness to this cake.
Finally, fold in the black walnuts.
I wanted to create a layer cake, so I lined three round baking pans with parchment paper and then gave them a good spray of baking spray.
Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cream cheese frosting is perfect for this cake, so I used my go-to recipe which you can find here. However, I did eliminate the almond extract and used eggnog instead of milk. It’s not essential, but it’s a subtle holiday touch.
Once your cakes are cooled, level them off (if necessary) with a serrated knife. Then you’re ready to add the frosting. I wanted a rustic look so I opted for a “naked” cake. This just means that the frosting is spread on thin so you can see the cake through the frosting. You’re welcome to frost this cake however you like.
I did want to mention one thing I would have changed about the way I stacked the three layers in the cake. I stacked the top and bottom layers upside down (to create a more level surface) but put the middle layer right-side up. (I should have just stacked them all upside down.) While you can’t tell from the outside, when you cut the cake, you can see two lines of caramelization between the middle and bottom layers and no lines of caramelization between the middle and top layers.
It’s not important, except for aesthetic reasons. However, I wanted to note.that you can avoid this by simply staking your layers all in the same direction, or if you want to get extra fancy, you can remove the caramelization from the bottom of each layer.
To finish off my Christmas cake, I decorated it with additional black walnut pieces, small sprigs of rosemary, and sugared cranberries. You can find my recipe for sugared cranberries here. They are simple to make and, as you can see, they are wonderful for decorating holiday desserts or garnishing cookie trays and cocktails.
And with that, my Black Walnut Christmas Cake is complete.
Isn’t it pretty? You need zero cake decorating skill to make this festive Christmas cake. An offset spatula will make the job easier, but you could manage with a butter knife.
I am now a fan of the black walnut flavor. At the start, I was a little nervous, but as soon as I cut this cake, I couldn’t resist a bite. I ended up eating the entire slice.
I think you’re going to love this Black Walnut Cake. Don’t forget, if you want to see more of my holiday table and Christmas dining room decor, click here.
Want more sweet holiday treats? Try these:
- Pink Velvet Yule Log
- Mini Skillet Cookie Cakes
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
- Spiked Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes
- Cranberry Pecan Pie
Now, that your Christmas Cake is made, all you need to do is bake a few batches of Christmas cookies, and your holiday dessert table will be ready for entertaining.
Happy baking, friends!!
Black Walnut Christmas Cake Recipe:
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped black walnuts
- Sugared cranberries, black walnuts, and rosemary to garnish
- 1 batch Cream Cheese Frosting (Substitute egg nog for milk.)
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable shortening, and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Mix to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat after each addition until smooth. Fold in the walnuts.
Evenly divide the batter among the three prepared baking bans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick interested near the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pans for 8-10 minutes; then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
In the meantime, prepare cream cheese frosting* using the recipe linked below. Eliminate the almond extract and substitute the milk with eggnog for a festive touch.
Once the cakes have cooled, level each with a serrated knife, if necessary. Then spread about 1 cup of frosting between the layers of cake. Add another cup of frosting to the top of the cake. Spread over the cake in an even, thin layer,** using an offset spatula.
Top with additional black walnut pieces, sugared cranberries***, and sprigs of fresh rosemary to garnish.
*You can find my go-to cream cheese frosting here. As mentioned above, do not use the almond extract, and use eggnog instead of milk for a fun seasonal taste.
**With this technique, you are creating a "naked" cake. This is a rustic style of decorating a cake in which some of the cake shows through a thin layer of frosting.
***You can find my recipe for sugared cranberries here.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
If you’re looking for even more dessert treats, don’t forget to check out all of the Tastes of the Season blogger recipes below.
Tastes of the Season Holiday Desserts:
Peppermint Whipped Cream by Ella Claire & Co. | Fondant Christmas Cupcakes by Craftberry Bush | Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle by anderson + grant | Dairy Free 6 Ingredient Salted Caramels by Zevy Joy | No Bake Healthy Coconut Bars by Tidbits
Easy Peppermint Bark by Jenna Kate at Home | Black Walnut Christmas Cake by Inspired by Charm | Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Salted Pretzel Topping by Boxwood Avenue | Christmas Popcorn by Town and Country Living | Snowman Cheese Ball by Julie Blanner
Slow Cooker Candied Pecans by Live Laugh Rowe | Fudgy Peppermint Coconut Flour Brownies by Farmhouse on Boone | Hot Peppermint Mocha by Shabbyfufu | Homemade Take 5 Peanut Butter Cups by Chronicles of Home | Slow Cooker Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels by Nest of Posies
Berry Topped Chocolate Cake by French Country Cottage | Pecan Butter Tart Bars by So Much Better With Age | Chocolate Pinecones by My Sweet Savannah | Peanut Butter Fudge by My 100 Year Old Home | Simple Holiday Fudge by House 214 Design
Coffee Cake by Rooms for Rent