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A walnut cake perfect for afternoon coffee

Amy Ephron

One for the Table

3:30 PM EDT, May 9, 2013

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By Cathy Pollak for Oneforthetable.com

I am one of those people who enjoys a mid-afternoon sweet snack with coffee. The cravings for something sugary seem to hit about 3 o'clock. I try so hard to be good, but I've stopped fighting it. I figure the penalty is about 100 lunges or something like that. I'm over it. I swear I only take a few bites. I indulge in my sweet treat with French-pressed black coffee I make at home. It all keeps me going until at least happy hour.

I have always been nuts about nuts in my desserts. I love the texture and complexity they bring to the table. And walnuts are by far my absolute favorite. This cake combines the perfect level of sweetness with the pleasantly bitter flavor of the walnuts. And let's not forget the frosting, adding a whole other layer of yummy.

Perfect for entertaining or just to have around, even though it's dangerous and addicting. But you knew that just by looking at it.

Buttermilk-Walnut Snack Cake with Praline Frosting

Recipe Created by Cathy Pollak for NoblePig.com

Makes 12 servings.

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk (use Bulgarian if you can find it)

1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, divided

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon light colored corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon table salt

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9- by 13-inch pan.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, whisking until mixed.

Place butter and sugars in a mixing bowl, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until just combined. Add flour alternately with buttermilk, ending with flour. Mix until just combined, do not overmix. Fold in walnuts and pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middles comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, place brown sugar, 1/4 cup milk, butter, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil while stirring. Simmer for 2 minutes. Place mixture into a bowl with confectioners' sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla. Beat for 2-3 minutes until slightly cooled and thick. Spread evenly over cake and sprinkle with walnuts.

Let frosting set before cutting the cake into squares.

(Cathy Pollak runs her own vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She shares her love of food and wine at noblepig.com. One for the Table is Amy Ephron's online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love. http://www.oneforthetable.com