Walnut Chiffon Cake with Maple Custard Cream Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting

Now, that's a mouthful--the title and the cake itself.   The Nut Cake has been in my recipe box for years and years, probably one of the originals when the box was purchased. Although I've had the recipe and can faintly remember tasting this cake many years ago, I have never made it until now.  This recipe comes from Mrs. Davies who was our pastor's wife and mother of my sister's best friend when I was a teenager.  Heather may have procured this recipe for me, but certainly I was bold enough to ask for it myself as I was not known for my shyness.  My sister says this was Pastor Davies' favourite cake and Mrs. Davies would make it for him often.  I must have tasted this at a church potluck or Heather may have brought home a piece for me to try.   

The cake itself is not a difficult one to make but if you decide to dress it up with the Maple Custard Cream Filling and the Whipped Cream Frosting then it becomes a showpiece dessert and can definitely be called a fancy company cake.  Of course, if you don't want to go through all the trouble of dressing the cake, it can be served with just a drizzle of glaze or a sprinkling of icing sugar and I'm sure everyone will be happy with that as this cake is definitely a crowd-pleaser.  But I would urge you to set aside a day and make this with the maple filling and whipped cream icing.  It is soooooooo good. 

The assembling of the cake is time consuming but well worth the effort.  You may do some of the preparation the day before by toasting, chopping and glazing the nuts and making the maple custard for the filling.  If you have that much ready then the cake comes together much faster.  But if you do decide to make this cake all in one day start early in the morning to give everything a chance to chill and set.  

I have called this a chiffon cake because it is made with egg yolks and egg whites and oil instead of butter.  Chiffon cake usually has baking powder but this one is raised or leavened just with the eggs. 

Walnut Chiffon Cake with Maple Custard Cream Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting
1 recipe for Cold Water Nut Cake
1 recipe Maple Custard Cream Filling
1 recipe Whipped Cream Frosting
1 recipe Maple Glazed Walnuts

Make the cake and let cool.  While cake is baking make the Maple Custard Cream Filling and refrigerate until needed.  Do not add the whipped cream to the filling until ready to use. (You may also make the Maple Custard the day before.)

While oven is still hot make the Maple Glazed Walnuts.  Set aside until needed.

When ready to assemble cake, add the whipped cream to the Maple Custard Filling and make the Whipped Cream Frosting.

To assemble cake, follow directions at the end of this post.

Mrs. Davies' Cold Water Nut Cake
4 eggs, room temperature, separated
Bring eggs to room temperature by
placing them in a bowl of hot tap water.

½ cup cold water
1 ¼ cups sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil (any neutral kind)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup white flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour (substitute white flour if you do not have whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (toast them lightly for more flavour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Do not grease pans.  You may use a tube pan or three 9-inch round pans.  I used the round pans and placed a round piece of parchment in the bottom of each pan without greasing.  This helped remove the cake after baking and cooling.

Beat egg whites until they come to a stiff peak.  Lay aside.  If using the same bowl to mix remaining ingredients, remove whites to a smaller bowl and lay aside. 

Mix flours and salt together and lay aside.

In the bowl of your mixer beat egg yolks and water until foamy.  Add sugar gradually and then the oil while continuing the beating.  Add the vanilla. Fold in the flour and the nuts.  Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.

Bake in tube pan for 1 hour.  Bake the 9-inch pans for 30-35 minutes or until firm to touch or a cake tester comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  This cake will not pull away from the sides of pan like a butter cake.  Watch carefully when the timer is close to the 1-hour or 30-minute time. 

Let the tube cake cool on cooling rack upside-down in the pan.  The cake should not fall out as it will be stuck to the sides of the pan.  When cake is cool, run a knife around the sides of pan and around the centre tube.  Gently ease cake out of tube pan. 

For the 9-inch pans let cool on rack about 5 minutes then run a knife around the sides and invert on rack.  Peel off parchment paper and let cool thoroughly before decorating.   

Toasting the nuts will bring out the flavour.  Chop the nuts finely for the cake.  If you use a food processor be careful not to chop them into a powder.

Separate yolks and whites.  Whip whites and set aside.  Whip yolks with water, oil, sugar and vanilla.  Both the whites and yolks increase in volume.  The incorporated air in the eggs is what leavens the cake.

Fold the flour into the egg yolk mixture.  Then fold in the egg whites.  

Do not grease any pan you are using.  If using 9-inch round pans place a round piece of parchment or waxed paper on the bottom.  Bake 30-35 minutes.  Let cool on cake rack before removing from pan.  Run a knife around the sides and the cake should come out easily.

Do not grease any pan you are using. If using a tube pan bake about 1 hour.  Cool by placing the cake still in the pan upside-down on the cooling rack.  When cake is cool, remove by running a knife around the sides of the pan and around the sides of the middle tube.  You may have to shake it gently from the pan as the bottom may still be a little stuck.

Note of caution:  Great restraint must be exercised when making the Maple Custard Cream Filling.  After folding in the cream resist the urge to taste it more than once or you may not have enough to fill the cake.  This was so good I could have eaten all the filling and started all over again.  But holding myself back, I did leave just enough for the cake. 

Maple Custard Cream
½ cup white sugar
½ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup butter
½ cup cream, half & half or evaporated milk
3 eggs
Pinch of salt

1 cup whipping cream, whipped to medium stiff peak, unsweetened

In a saucepan over low heat combine all ingredients except the whipping cream.  Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens.  This may take as long as 20 minutes, so be patient and stir, stir, stir. (You may strain this custard if there are any little pieces of cooked egg in the cooked mixture.) Pour into a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator. 

When ready to use, whip the whipping cream and fold into the chilled maple custard until well combined and no streaks can be seen.  Refrigerate until needed.

For the Maple Custard: Stir all ingredients together over medium heat.  When thickened you may strain the mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap until well chilled.  When ready to use, whip the cream and fold into the custard.  

Whipped Cream Frosting
3 cups very cold whipping cream
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding dry powder
3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Food colouring, optional

Beat the whipping cream with the remaining ingredients until a stiff peak is formed.  DO NOT WHIP INTO BUTTER.  A portion of the frosting may be coloured to decorate cakes.

I have used several different flavours of pudding to achieve different frosting flavours but the frosting will take on a light shade of the pudding colour. 

Makes enough to fill and frost a 2- or 3-layer 8 or 9-inch cake.

Place the very cold whipping cream, pudding powder, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat on high speed until a stiff peak is formed.  Don't leave this when you are beating because it can turn into butter in a matter of seconds once the stiff peaks are formed.  

Maple Glazed Walnuts
¼ cup walnuts, whole or roughly chopped
1 ½ tablespoons real maple syrup
1 or 2 shakes of salt
1 teaspoon butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the nuts, salt and maple syrup, coating the nuts as much as you can.  You may need a little more maple syrup if the nuts still looks dry in places.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie tray.  Spread the butter around in the middle of the paper.  Spread the nuts over the buttered area of the parchment.  Place in a 325 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking.  If the maple syrup seems to be browning too quickly, turn the oven down to 300 degrees.  Remove the tray from the oven and let cool.   

For the Maple Glazed Walnuts: Spread butter in middle of pan.  Mix walnuts with maple syrup and spread over the butter.  Bake in oven 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice until maple syrup has glazed the nuts.  

To assemble cake
  1. If you made the cake in a tube pan split the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer on the serving plate.  If using 3 round layers, place one of the layers on the serving plate.  
  2. Using ⅓ of the Maple Custard Cream Filling, spread on the top of this layer.  Cover with second cake layer. 
  3. Cover the second cake layer with another ⅓ of the Maple Custard Cream Filling.  Cover with the remaining cake layer.
  4. Cover sides and top with the Whipped Cream Frosting.  
  5. Decorate the top of the cake with remaining ⅓ of the Maple Custard Cream Filling and any left-over Whipped Cream Frosting.
  6. Sprinkle Maple Glazed Walnuts around the top edge of cake and anywhere else you may wish to use them.
  7. Refrigerate cake.  Remove cake from refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.  

Oh, my. . . What can I say? 
Wish you could be here to have a piece of this spectacular cake. 

This is my piece--my third piece!



  1. This is admittedly my first time making a custard that had neither flour nor starch, but it's been twenty five minutes, and it's still resolutely liquid. Any common mistakes you can think of that I might be making?

    1. I'm so sorry your custard is not cooking correctly. I'm not really sure what the problem might be but I'll give you a few thoughts. Although not specified, the eggs should be large. The mixture should come to a simmer so the heat should be high enough for that but not high enough to burn the eggs and milk. Try a medium low heat if low does not seem to cook the mixture. When chilled the mixture should thicken quite a bit. If all else fails try adding a tablespoon of cornstarch or 2 tablespoons of flour before cooking.

  2. Have you ever had Sara Lee Walnut Cake with the whipped cream frosting? Does the cake taste like that? I have been searching for a cake that tasted like that. Thanks!

    1. Sorry, I can't help you with this one. I've never had a Sara Lee Walnut Cake.

  3. Wondering if these could be made as filled cupcakes?

    1. I don't see why not. Adjust the baking time to approximately 18-20 minutes. I make cupcakes out of cake recipes all the time.

  4. Have you changed this recipe over the years? Some years ago I made it, but the whipped cream icing was made using unflavored gelatin instead of instant pudding. I would prefer not to use pudding, so I am wondering what the proportions are for the gelatin method. Thanks!

    1. I probably did change that to instant pudding. If you want the gelatin recipe go to Stabilized Whipped Cream #4 at https://www.stuffedatthegills.ca/2014/04/stabilized-whipped-cream.html. Use the following proportions:

      1 ½ teaspoons plain gelatin
      6 tablespoons water
      3 cups chilled whipping cream
      2-4 tablespoons extra fine sugar
      1 teaspoon vanilla


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