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Gâteau EleanorThis isn’t really a regional recipe, it’s my own. However there’s a good reason for the name. The black walnut is ubiquitous in this area and was supposedly introduced to England – and widely planted in the Quercy – by that most adventurous of Queens, Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was born in this area in 1122 and must rank as one of the most forward thinking ladies of her time, a suffragette eight hundred years before the Pankhursts.

I named this cake in her honour.

Ingredients

250g Plain Flour
200g Caster Sugar
200g Chopped Walnuts
200g Grated Carrots
4 Eggs
100ml Sunflower Oil
50ml Walnut Oil
2 Heaped Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Heaped Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Sachet Vanilla Sugar
1 Level Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Grating of Nutmeg
Juice and Grated Zest of 1 Large Orange

500g Mascarpone
Juice of 1 large Orange
50g Icing Sugar
20 Walnut Halves

If you prefer you can substitute lemons for the oranges in the recipe, both versions work equally well.

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade.

If you have a food processor this recipe really couldn’t be easier.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate and spices in the bowl and whizz for twenty seconds. Add the walnuts, eggs, oil and juice and zest of the orange. Whizz for another twenty seconds. Add the grated carrots and give a final whizz. You should have a batter-type consistency, runnier than most cake mixtures.

Gâteau EleanorPour the mixture into a greased 22cm cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour, or until the cake shrinks away from the sides of the tin.

Leave until completely cold.

To make the cream cheese filling, simply beat all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If the mixture feels a little too stiff add a spot of milk.

Carefully split your cold cake in half and sandwich with the cream cheese mixture. You should have enough to cover the sides and top of the cake as well. Decorate with the walnut halves.

This sumptuous and very moist gateau will keep for up to a week in the fridge. It is quite delicious served with a little pouring cream or crème fraiche. I’m sure Eleanor would have approved.

Amanda Lawrence

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