Deeply Danish downtime: Walnut squares

René is not particularly big on sweets, but he is obsessed with nuts, especially walnuts, so I knew they were the key to making a cake he would love. This is moist, dense and has great texture. I made it for the editors of Bon Appetit magazine when they came to our house for a shoot, and they ended up liking it so much they named it one of their recipes of the year. It’s filling, so serve it in small pieces. It also keeps very well.



a little softened salted butter

3 tablespoons sugar (I use organic granulated cane sugar)


800g walnut halves and pieces

105g plain flour

135g ground almonds

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

225g salted butter, at room temperature

150g sugar (as above), plus 3 tablespoons for the top

1 vanilla pod

6 large eggs, at room temperature

180ml double cream

120ml plain yoghurt, preferably whole milk or low-fat (not fat-free)


480ml double cream

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160 fan/gas 4. Lightly butter a 23cm x 33cm baking tin. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of sugar in the bottom of the tin.

2 Pulse 225g of the walnuts in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. Transfer the chopped walnuts to a bowl and set aside.

3 Add the remaining 575g walnuts to the food processor with the flour. Working in two batches if necessary, process until the mixture is very finely chopped and powdery. Add the ground almonds and salt and pulse to combine. Set the walnut flour mixture aside. Adding the plain flour to the walnuts keeps the nuts from becoming an oily paste.

4 Put the butter and granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Use the tip of a small knife to split the vanilla pod lengthwise, then scrape the seeds into the bowl, saving the pod for another use. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer set on high speed until it is light in colour and texture, about 3 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition.

5 Reduce the mixer speed to low. Mix in about one-third of the walnut flour mixture, followed by the double cream, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in another third of the walnut flour mixture, followed by the yoghurt. Mix in the remaining walnut flour mixture and beat, scraping down the bowl as needed, just until smooth. Using the spatula, gently fold in the chopped walnuts. Do not overmix.

6 Spread the batter evenly in the tin and sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick or fork comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Set the tin on a wire rack to cool completely.

7 When ready to serve, whip the cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on high speed until the cream forms soft peaks. Cut the cake into squares and serve with the whipped cream.