julia's walnut cake with french butter icing

julia's walnut cake with french butter icing

Compliments of the Smugeresky Family

For that special occasion.

Servings 16 to 20 servings
Author Rosemary Stelmach


Julia's Walnut Cake

  • 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (preferrably chopped by hand, not too fine)

French Butter Icing

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Julia's Walnut Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans generously with butter or shortening.

  2. In a large bowl, Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg yolks and continue beating until incorporated. With the mixer set on low to medium, the flour and baking powder is then added in small amounts alternately with the milk and vanilla extract.

  3. Fold in the chopped walnuts. Beat the egg whites on high speed until peaks form. Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the batter. Be careful to not over-mix. 

  4. Pour batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. * See Recipe Notes for alternate method.

  5. Transfer the cake pans to a cooling rack. Once cool enough to handle, run a sharp knife around the outer edge of each pan. Invert over the rack to release the cakes. Allow to cool thoroughly before frosting.

French Butter Icing

  1. Cook the milk and flour over low heat until it is thick and pasty. Cover it with plastic wrap or waxed paper and place it in the fridge until cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

  2. Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until creamy in a medium sized bowl. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until well incorporated. The cooled milk & flour sauce is then added to the mix. Continue beating until the mixture just about doubles in bulk and is very fluffy.

Cake Assembly

  1. Insert toothpicks around the perimeter of each cake carefully placed halfway up all around. Using a very sharp large knife, use the toothpicks as your guide and cut each cake in half horizontally. You now have four layers.

  2. Using a pastry brush, gently remove any excess crumbs. Remove and discard the toothpicks. Choose your cake plate or stand. Cut four strips of parchment paper and place them around the edges of the plate. This will minimize the amount of overflow icing and crumbs that will end up on your serving dish. Then place just a dab of prepared icing to the center of the plate so that the cake will be less likely to shift as you frost it.

  3. It is easier to spread the frosting on each layer if it has been placed cut-side-down on the plate. Way less crumbs that way. Spread the frosting from the center out to the edges where you may need a little extra to fill in any gaps. Once the stack is complete, pile the remaining frosting on the top of the cake. Spread it out to the edges then using an offset spatula, smooth out the sides of the cake all the way around. If you need a bit more frosting here and there to fill in gaps, just grab some from the top of the cake.

  4. Sprinkle additional chopped walnuts all over the top of the cake. Or top it off with a handful of whole walnuts and some fresh greens.

Recipe Notes

* Alternatively, bake the cake in a greased tube pan in a 350°F oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.