Aquitainian Walnut Torte

One of the most remarkable women ever to be Queen of England was Eleanor of Aquitaine. Born in 1122, she divorced the King of France to marry Henry II, and founded the first home for battered wives at Fontreveault Abbey in France. She started the idea of Romantic love and is believed to have introduced the black walnut to England, so I always think of this as her cake. The recipe, however, I owe once again to Greta Anna.


  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 200 g/7 oz caster sugar
  • 450 g/1 lb shelled walnuts, ground to fine crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the Icing

  • 450 g/1 lb icing sugar, sifted
  • 85 g/3 oz butter, softened
  • 4 tsp finely ground coffee beans
  • softened with a little boiling water


Beat the egg yolks and sugar lightly together until blended. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the yolks and sugar, then gently mix in the walnut crumbs and baking powder. Pour into a buttered 20 cm/8 in round cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 for 50-55 minutes (test with a skewer). Cool in the tin.

For the icing, gradually beat the icing sugar into the butter and flavour with the coffee. Apply to the cooled cake.