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Hungarian walnut cake deserves to be preserved. Yet it is often mistaken with another famously good Hungarian confection, the five layered Eszterházy. In the end, there are many claims to being an Eszterházy or walnut cake, but most often these cakes are a synthesis of two distinctly different types of cakes. The original walnut cake was made with cooked buttercream, but it was a buttercream nevertheless, and not a custard cream, which is the filling used in the Eszterházy. The other confusing element is what nuts to use, the Esztreházy is made with finely ground almonds and the walnut torte is obviously made with finely ground walnuts. Of these two cakes, neither has chocolate in them, or rum for that matter. Ah yes, there is a third cake, the Chocolate Walnut Cake, this also adds to the confusion.

My oldest cookbook lists every variation of walnut cake with ground walnuts and fine breadcrumbs with no additional flour in the batter. The newer cookbooks all call for flour. I favour using a little from both line of reasoning and I always add a little flour to the batter. Make sure the walnut cake is in three layers.

Internet recipes sometimes advise to roast the walnuts before grinding. Almonds and hazelnuts are fine, but roasting walnuts is not a good idea. I tried it, don’t do it because you won’t be able to sleep at night. There must be a chemical change in roasted walnuts and remember you are using a fair amount of walnuts in the cake and in the cream too. Interestingly none of my old Hungarian cookbooks advises roasting the walnut meat either. There has to be a reason for this. For grinding up the walnuts, you need a food processor or one of those small grinders with the bottle attached. Any other grinding mechanism is torture to use. Otto’s deli sells a Hungarian metal walnut grinder, I think I used it once with my husband’s help and then it went into the trash. I have no idea how they can justify selling them. In all probability, Otto never used one.

I suspect bakery walnut cakes have lots of fillers and this allows the lavish decorations on top. But this homemade version is rich already, so piping rosettes on the top would be too rich. A thin layer of cream is more than enough. Hungarian walnut cake is often the base for the sarokház dessert.

6 egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
8 Tbsp ground walnuts
3 Tbsp fine breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp flour
6 egg whites

Walnut Buttercream:
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
10 Tbsp ground walnuts
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Spray the bottom and the sides of two round spring-form cake pans. {or 3 if you happen to have 3 same sized cake pans]
• Line the cake pans fully with parchment paper.
• Spray the top of the parchment lining with cooking spray and set aside.
• Beat the egg yolks with sugar for 4-5 minutes until very fluffy.
• Gradually beat in the ground walnuts, breadcrumbs and the flour.
• In a clean bowl beat the egg whites until very stiff peaks form.
• Gradually and very carefully fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter.
• Divide the batter between the cake pans. Divide equally if you have 3 pans. If you only have 2 pans, add twice as much batter to one of the pans.
• Bake the cakes in the preheated oven until cake tester comes out clean. The single layer will be done first.
• Let the cakes cool in the pan and then remove the parchment paper from the bottom.
• Cut the larger cake into two layers.
• Meanwhile make the walnut buttercream.
• Place the milk, sugar and 10 Tbsp ground walnuts in a pan.
• Bring to the boil and reduce heat.
• Cook the walnuts until milk reduces to almost nothing. Set aside to cool. Place in the fridge to chill.
• Beat the unsalted butter until very fluffy.
• Gradually add the chilled walnut mixture and beat a little longer until very fluffy.
• Place the walnut buttercream in the fridge for 15 minutes.
• Spread the top of each cake layer with walnut buttercream.
• Arrange the layers and spread the side with the remaining walnut buttercream.
• Sprinkle the sides with finely ground walnuts.
• Carefully place the cake on a platter and chill the cake.
• Slice and serve.



  1. Your cake looks gorgeous, Zsuzsa. Perfectly shaped and neat, as always.

  2. Its a rainy gloomy day in Calgary today. Perfect day to bake. Thanks for sharing this, I'm so looking forward to making it today.

  3. Thank you Sissi for the compliment. This morning I was thinking of your cake, no cake disappeared as fast as that one. I have walnut cake in the fridge and I am thinking of your cake ha.

    Agi good luck with the cake. Let me know how it turns out. Kamloops is gloomy today too. This is good time for me to run errands. In the heat, it is always hot in the car. The AC seems to kick in just before I arrive where I am going. Then back into the hot car and the whole thing starts all over again.

    I have a confession to make. When my kids were younger, I always added a little cocoa to the walnut cake or the walnut cream to please them. This was the first time I made a pure walnut cake. In the not too distant future, I will try out another old recipe so I can compare the two. I will only add one to my cookbook. One of my girls dropped in over last night and she said the cake brought back memories of her growing up. I suppose the cocoa I used to add didn’t change the taste as much as I thought it did. My husband loved it, he had two slices yesterday, but I won’t make up my mind until I make the other one. And for old times sake I will have to make a cocoa version one of these days. Jim better get cracking; I will be needing more walnuts.

  4. I must're the queen of the Hungarian 'classic' cuisine and desserts. I also have a walnut cake recipe...hand written by my aunt in Hungarian, but first, I would have to be able to read her strange left side tilted writing, and every recipe is in metric, but you have made it much more easier for me, not to have all the guessing from the old recipe!
    Lovely cake, and scrumptious frosting, Zsuzsa!

  5. Thank you Elisabeth, I will try the recipe from Culinaria Hungary next and see which one is better. With my taster friend Ann we should be able to figure out which one is the ultimate walnut cake.

  6. Hi Zsuzsa,
    I've been wanting to make such a cake, but it is a little daunting.
    Anyway, I was wondering if you have the recipe for aranygaluska? I'm not a Hungarian, and don't think I can trust Google Translate to do the job for me. I would appreciate it very much.

  7. Aranygaluska is not a simple pastry either. It is quite well known in North America, the Jewish bakers made it popular; Mrs Reagan served it at the White House once. It is very similar to monkey bread and quite possibly you could make it from frozen bread dough. Or simply google Hungarian aranygaluska or monkey bread. You should find several recipes in English. I may make it yet, if you want me to do the experiment first, well you will have to wait a bit. I have a few dozen recipes to go through first. I think aranygaluska would be a good afternoon delight when the snow is falling outside and you come inside to warm up following a good workout with the shovel. Hey, I live in Canada.

  8. Thanks for replying. I will look up Monkey Bread as per your suggestion. And yes, I hope you will do it someday.

  9. Hi Zsuzsa!
    Just made this but I'm wondering if I made a mistake somewhere... The three layers seemed to be extremely thin and made a very flat cake and likewise the buttercream didn't fill it out as much as it looks in the picture. (I rectified this by cutting the cake in half and stacking in but then only had half a cake! haha)

    1. Foam cakes can be tricky, because the only leavening is from the eggs. But the cake and the buttercream should have light consistency. The yolks should be well beaten until very thick and frothy. The walnuts should be ground up fine like a meal, because they replace flour in the cake and the icing sugar in the buttercream. The egg whites have to be beaten to stiff peaks. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter very carefully to avoid deflating. For the buttercream, once again the walnuts have to be finely ground and the butter should be well beaten - so it can grow in volume. If you look closer at the photo, mine has a paper thin layer of buttercream on the side.

  10. I can't wait to try this recipe out! I've made a couple different types of cooked buttercream before, but they both used eggs. Definitely giving this one a try. Yours looks beautiful!

  11. Zsuzsa-- what size spring form cake pans? I've never made this before and I'd like to make it for our church Fall Festival here in Los Angeles. Would like it to be as perfect as yours. -- Koszonom szeppen.

    1. Well unfortunately this is a late reply, I am taking a hiatus from blogging and I just popped in to answer some of the questions... I used my 7 inch cake pans, but I don't see a problem baking it in 9 inch pans, it will just make thinner layers.

  12. Anonymous6.2.17

    Each year I ask my husband what kind of cake he wants for his birthday, and he often asks for something challenging that I haven't made before. I'm always up for that -- this year he wanted a European-style nut torte, and I found your recipe. I just made the cake layers and cooked the walnuts, milk, and sugar. Looking forward to assembling the cake and eating it tomorrow!

    1. Hope you enjoyed it. :-)

  13. Anonymous13.3.17

    How long do the cakes need to bake?

    1. Until the cake tester comes out clean. The length of time depends on many factors. Oven, pan size, number of pans and even the hand in batter preparation can make a difference. Whatever you do, don't leave it. Always under set the timer, I would begin with maybe 8 minutes and keep adding 3-4 minutes at a time until the middle is set. Then you start inserting the cake tester or a sharp knife to see if comes out clean. That's when the cake is done. By then you can smell the aroma.




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