Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Banana Black Walnut Cake: Part One

Banana black walnut cake with chocolate glaze and garnished with black walnuts.

I was in Shelby recently and shopping at Ingles grocery where I bought some black walnuts.  I hadn't seen them for sale before.  The common English walnut is available everywhere.  I should explain the difference between the two walnuts.
Hammons Black Walnuts.

"So what kind of walnuts do we eat? Well, the Black Walnut was in fact part of many native American diets but most of the walnuts we eat today are actually English walnuts, which have a milder taste and broader appeal. They also have thinner, easier-to-crack shells. Black Walnuts on the other hand have a bolder, earthier flavor. Their shells are thick, tough to crack, and will likely stain your hands.
Black walnut trees are not really cultivated on the same scale of English walnuts. They mostly grow wild across central and eastern parts of the country. Hammons is a company that's dedicated to preserving the legacy and availability of the Black Walnut." (Serious Eats)
Black walnuts in husks.

Black walnuts are encased in a fleshy outer husk that can be used as a brown dye.  When shelling black walnuts this "dye" will stain your fingers.  Once you remove the outer fleshy husk it is difficult to crack the extremely hard shell of the black walnut.
Fleshy meats inside hard outer shell.
Then it is tedious to pick out the meats of the nut.
The Louisburg College Campus where I taught.

The black walnut tree is native to North Carolina, and the campus where I taught for many years had a big black walnut tree just in back of my office.  Occasionally I would gather some and harvest the fleshy meats, but usually it just wasn't worth the effort.  Black walnuts have a stronger, smokier flavor than the common English walnut.  I don't find them tasty except when used in baking cookies, bread, cakes or in ice cream. 

Black walnuts make a nice natural brown dye.  Check out this website for instructions.
Black Walnut Dye.
Yarn dyed with black walnut dye.

You can even use black walnuts as a  Natural Brown Hair Dye.
Hair dyed with black walnut dye.

Okay, I have digressed, and I know you are eager to see the recipe for the Banana Black Walnut Cake.  Stay tuned.  It is in Banana Black Walnut Cake Part Two. 

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