Are you nuts about baking? I certainly am, I love to use all sorts of nuts when I bake, and judging how quickly I was offered links for nutty bakes for this post I am not the only one!
Technically nuts are one-celled fruits with a dry shell. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns and cashew fall within this definition, but not much else we call nuts are actually true nuts. Most nuts that we eat are in fact edible kernels from which the fruit wall has been removed (eg almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts) and some are seeds (eg Brazil nuts and pistachios). But let’s not worry too much as to the exact definition. Nuts in baking make a fabulous addition both for flavour and texture.
Popular Nuts for Baking:
- Almonds – There are two types of almonds bitter and sweet. Sweet almonds are used for baking. In some bakes, they may be ground and used to replace some or all of the flour to produce a rich moist flavour and texture. Almond based bakes are a staple of French Patisserie. They are also of course the base ingredient of marzipan.
- Brazil Nuts – Native to the Amazon brazil nuts are the fruit of a large tropical tree that bears pods containing up to 24 nuts well suited to cookies and cakes they are high in fat.
- Hazelnuts – also known as cobnuts or filberts, add a wonderful aromatic flavour to many types of bakes. They grow in clusters surrounded by a husk which opens when the nut is ripe. Like almonds, they can be ground to replace the flour in some bakes.
- Macadamia Nuts – Native to Australia but now the largest commercial crops are in Hawaii, Good for cakes and cookies.
- Peanuts – originally from South America the peanut is actually the seed of a tropical pulse. Peanuts often eaten as snacks, they are also great in cookies or cakes especially in the form of peanut butter.
- Pistachios –valued for their pale green colour and delicate flavour.
- Walnuts and Pecans – are closely related. They add flavour to hearty breads and cakes. The most common species of walnut is the European, English or Persian Walnut. The same species is grown in the United States as the California Walnut. Pecans are native to the United States They are famous for being paired with molasses in Pecan pie.
Nutty Biscuits and Cookies
Banana and Roasted Walnut Cookies – The Bear and The Fox
Salted peanut and Caramel Cookies – Hodge Podge Days
Crunchy Peanut Cookies – Baking with Granny
Nut and Cranberry Cookies – Searching for Spice
Carrot Cake Cookies – The Baking Explorer
Sweet Potato and Date Cookies (Vegan and gluten-free) – Gourmet Mum
Nuts in Shells – These are usually the freshest nuts and are plentiful during the winter festive season. They are the best for long storage. Nuts in shells should be heavy for their size and intact with no holes or cracks.
Unshelled Nuts – may be raw or roasted, left whole, sliced, chopped or broken into pieces or finely ground.
All nuts contain oil but walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds are especially rich and must be carefully ground so that the oils do not separate. When grinding your own in a food processor do so in quantities no greater than 50-60g at a time and use short burst to avoid over grinding and the nuts forming an oily paste.
Cakes with Nuts
Cherry Chocolate Bundt Cake – Country Heart and Home
Dundee Cake – Baking with Granny
Marzipan and Cherry Cake – Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen
Pine nut and choc chip honey cake – Chez Maximka
Banana, Date and Walnut Cake – Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
Chestnut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting – Casa Costello
Coffee and Walnut Brownies – Only Crumbs Remain
Pistachio Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting – Curly’s Cooking
Hazlenut & walnut cake – Jibberjabber
Chocolate and Pecan Brownies – Lost in Food
Raspberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins – Fab Food for All
Roasting or Toasting Nuts
Bakes sometime call for browning nuts in the oven, to bring out their rich flavour, deepen their colour and add extra crunch.
To oven-roast spread in a single layer in a shallow baking tin and bake in a preheated oven 175℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4, for 6-12 minutes depending on the size. Shake the tray occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Tip: Nuts burn very quickly so keep an eye on them during roasting
Pastries and Tarts with Nuts
Blackberry, Almond and Rosemary Tart – Recipes Made Easy
Baklava – A Strong Cup of Coffee
Perfect Pecan Pie – Farmers Girl Kitchen
Pear and Almond Tart – Only Crumbs Remain
Danish Pastries – A Strong Cup of Coffee
Because most nuts contain oils they can quickly turn rancid. It is best to buy in small usable amounts. Exposure to light heat or moisture will reduce their shelf life so are best kept in airtight containers or in the fridge or freezer. Nuts in shells keep the longest, they can last well over a year, and whole shelled nuts will keep longer than those chopped or ground.
I love baking so much I have recently taken on a second blog dedicated to baking and sweet recipes. Only Crumbs Remain was started by a blogger friend of mine, Angela, about the same time I started Recipes Made Easy. Angela has decided to give up blogging to concentrate on making ceramics and so I have taken over Only Crumbs Remain. I’m very excited about this project but sadly the extra workload means I am struggling to find time to do everything, so I am stepping down as Baking Editor and this will be my last post for BritMums. I would like to thank BritMums for the opportunity and everyone who has contributed recipes for these articles during my time as Baking Editor.