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Of true affection

There is that saying about loving something enough to give it away, and if it comes back then it was meant to be.

I'm wondering if that applies to cakes, too. Specifically a Cinnamon Walnut Mud Cake.

I made this cake for a birthday celebration I was unable to attend. It was packed up with not even a crumb missing; an exercise in willpower and an act of true affection.

The next day a generous slice was brought back to me, with thanks, so that I could share in the festivities. I took this as a sign that not only was this cake meant to be mine, but it was also meant to be one I told you all about.

My friends, this cake deserves the chatter. As straightforward as they come in method, it is a melt-n-mix affair that was just right for a midweek birthday. Despite its brooding looks, the cake is has a surprising delicacy. A fudgy underside is layered with a cracked and crumbly, mousse-like top, with airy texture that immediately melts upon contact with the tongue. Bouncy for all of its darkness, like damp, rich soil that's made of chocolate and sugar instead of, well, dirt. Walnuts break up the crumb like supple pebbles.

I sent this cake out into the world with little expectation, and it returned as a gift for me. And while a selfish little voice my be murmuring somewhere in the corners of my mind, it is a gift I am happy to share.

Grab a fork and dive in.

The box in the photo was made by simplesong designs, and is one of Suann's wonderful letterpresssed creations. Her store is full of treasures like these pencils, and her blog is a perfectly-curated collection of things that have caught her fancy, as well as her own beautiful projects (be sure to check out the adorable invitations to her son's birthday and the dinner party she recently threw for charity - it's stunning). She's just fab.

And to all my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

Cinnamon Walnut Mud Cake
Those who appreciate the depth of chocolate might want to substitute 4 ounces of bittersweet for the same quantity of semisweet here.

8 ounces (2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and lightly salted while still warm
Cocoa powder, to serve

Lightly butter a 10-inch springform pan then line the bottom with a disc of parchment paper. Use strips to line to line the sides, pressing the parchment into the butter to adhere.

Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C).

Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 8 ounces of butter with the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. You do not need to blend them together terribly vigorously, just enough so that the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should barely lighten in colour and there will be a layer of bubbles at the surface but not throughout.

Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate, and stir to combine. Fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the centre is puffed and cracked. A cake tester inserted into one of these cracks should come out with wet, clumped crumbs; gooey but not liquid. The cake will continue to cook as it cools, losing its crown and falling back upon itself.

Remove the cake to a wire rack to come to room temperature. To serve, release the sides of the springform carefully and remove the parchment paper. Dust the top with cocoa powder pushed through a sieve.

Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 16.

• If I am being honest, even though I have directed to sieve together the dry ingredients in the recipe, I may have simply dumped those dry ingredients onto the wet without adverse effect. Shh. Don't tell.
• This cake likes to be handled with care. For ease of serving, chill the fully-cooled cake for around 30 minutes before slicing and it will firm up. It can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, but I prefer to keep it covered in the fridge.
• A spoonful of sweetened sour cream makes an ideal accompaniment.

Reader Comments (39)

this sounds and looks awesome. you know, i always ignore those kinds of directions about sifting and premixing the dry ingredients, etc., and things always seem to work out. then again, my style of baking is homey and rustic.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

sounds delicious and look beautiful inside Suann's box!

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAran

Holy yum, that looks amazing! My step-son loves all things cinnamon, but I would have to leave out the nuts, which in my opinion would be the best part!

Thanks for sharing! :D

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbiz319

Excellent. Friends of ours asked me to bring dessert to a lunch that they are hosting tomorrow. "Something chocolate," they specified. I've been wanting to try something new, and this cake sounds very promising. Thank you. I'm heading into the kitchen this minute. Will report back! Happy Thanksgiving to you.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Oh my, this looks delicious! The way you describe the texture reminds me of a chocolate bourbon cake I made a couple of weeks ago, that I haven't had a chance to post about yet (what with drowning in pie...).

Thank you again for all of your help last week! I can't wait to hear how you like the crust...

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea [bella eats]

so special and thoughtful! I am glad you got a piece, sounds AMAZING!

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSprouted Kitchen

It looks delicious!

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEl

Wasn't that sweet of them to return a slice to you? Nobody's ever done that for me. (Does that mean my cakes are bad???) Your mud cake sounds divine. Think I will substitute pecans instead of walnuts 'cause I have a ton in the freezer. I know you won't mind although it does change the title a little.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Exactly my sort of cake, I think. I find myself baking for lots of occasions, too...I wish some of those slices had come back to me!

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Leftoverist

love that they sent a delectable slice back to you to enjoy - it was obviously meant to be!

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergiao {kiss my spatula}

I would be more than happy if this came back to me:) This cakes looks awesome. I love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate...yum!

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

The cake sounds wonderful. And thanks for the recommendation to the etsy store. Another great find.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnh

Mmmm, looks delish! Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving Tara :)

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterperfectbound

Firstly, lovely that you received a slice of this cake so you could share it with us. It looks like a magnificent chocolate feast! My absolute weakness. I love the idea of having a cake that is simple to prepare, particularly mid-week. I typically tend to over plan and over complicate my baking so much so I don't have any quick ideas for something to pull together in a flash. This will be my first backup! Thank you.

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulia @ Mélanger

Wow, this really look wonderful. I love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. I'm going to bookmark this recipe. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeavenly Housewife

dear seven spoons,
i think its time i tld you how much I simply love your blog. Its honest, homey, witty and i love your clear pictures!
nd now i think its time i finally tried out a recipe instead of just gaping at the pictures!!


October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

As always, your description leaves me salivating and rummaging my kitchen for the ingredients. I lovelovelove your writing and your recipes.

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarly

Ah, chocolate. Your picture is amazing. I am going to try and bake this over the weekend! I just pinky-promised myself. I'll let you know how it goes...

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara [sara's test kitchen]

Justin, homey and rustic - you've got my style in two. It makes midweek baking all the more possible for me. Thanks for the kind words.

Thank you Aran.I find myself hoarding Suann's boxes sometimes; anyone who gets one has to be someone I really, really like!

biz319, you're very welcome. Sorry that the nuts are a no-go!

Oh, I hope you like it Jess, and your friends too! Fingers crossed over here.

Andrea,. chocolate bourbon cake? Yes, please.

Wasn't it kind of them, Sprouted Kitchen? It was such a nice surprise the next day.

Thank you El

Barbara, it might mean that your cakes are better - none leftover to share! Pecans would be delicious, I'm sure.

Leftoverist, it is sort of like brownies meet cake, so it is usually a crowd pleaser; and the ease of prep makes it a cook pleaser too.

giao, I thought so!

Nutmeg Nanny, I feel like the cinnamon gives the chocolate some autumnal flair, don't you?

Anh, Suann's work is truly a find; she has some charming bits and pieces. Nothing so serious that it seems too formal for everyday.

You too, perfectbound! So great to hear from you, I've been missing your daily doses of prettiness.

Julia I am trying to get together a collection of recipes like these that can be thrown together at the last minute; it is so handy to have them around. The Buttermilk cake from Gourmet is also on that list.

Thank you so much Heavenly Housewife, I hope your weekend is a lovely one.

Dear Anonymous, thank you for writing and for taking the time to introduce yourself. I hope to hear from you again!

Aw, thanks Carly. I truly appreciate it.

Can't wait to hear how it goes for you, Sara!

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertara

Tara, you are totally tempting me. i have to make it tomorrow the first thing in the morning. I'm in serious need of a chocolate fix.

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Purple Foodie

I like the picture. It looks like a gift just opened up and presented like you just did with the recipe:)

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSunshinemom

How awesome that it came back to you! . . . Have you also cast your bread on the waters and had it come back buttered?

Thanks for sharing.

October 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermiss liss

What a lovely and easy cake...and in such a pretty package! I wish I had dozens of those boxes just lying around. I have a feeling they'd make bringing my lunch to work more fun.

October 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Kate

What a nice blog and etsy store - thanks for introducing us to them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilary

Ok, I'm updating...

I really did make this and it was AMAZING. It was extremely moist, that was the first thing that everyone commented on. Is it because the pan was lined? I've never done that before.

Thank you for adding another chocolate recipe to my arsenal :)

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara [sara's test kitchen]

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