15 May 2012

The Farm

Seriously, that whole farm-to-table idea has gotten so twee.  Everyone with a fourth-floor walk up and a can of compost envisions themselves a farmer.   And I applaud it, I do.  Now if you are looking for an authentic farm experience, give Ian Knauer's The Farm a try.   Knauer worked as a recipe tester for Gourmet for many years but people began to notice that his recipes were often to better than the ones he was being asked to test.

Truth be told, he also spent a lot time on the farm... an actual farm in the Pennsylvania countryside.   Like many people, Knauer packed up and moved from the idyllic countryside to find fame and fortune in the big city.  The big city is just that --big; and a city.   Knauer conned his sisters into heading back to their childhood haunts to work the family farm for a year.  The nostalgia of garden tomatoes proved too much to pass up.

Knaur takes the reader though a year in his family garden.  It has memories and history and some great food.  There are a lot of cool recipes in this book, but this is the kind of cake we love.   It is a recipe from Ian's grandmother, whose farm was thick with black walnuts.  

Black Walnut Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup black or English walnut pieces
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square cake pan.

Whisk together the flour, walnuts, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until just combined.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 1 hour. Invert the cake over a cake plate and serve.
I love to watch Ian Knauer on Unique Eats.   Rumor has it he might have a new show this year on NBC Sports.  He used to have a fine blog, but I guess writing a cookbook took him away from all that.  Ian, honey, please keep linking your info to your blog.


  1. Mmmm - yum! Being from England, I don't know this chef, but his cake sounds amazing. I LOVE the front of his cookery book, and having moved from London to the English countryside two years ago, I adore all things rustic, hearty and natural, so this type of good old fashioned basic yumminess is right up my street. Thanks for the tip - I shall look out for this one!
    Paula x
    p.s. Great blog!


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