Walnut Cake Recipe

A traditional Greek dessert from Gordon Ramsay's World Kitchen. Drenched in a fragrant spice syrup as soon as it comes out of the oven, this classic cake is delectably moist. It is known as karydopita in Greece and is often made without any flour, although I find adding a little makes for a lighter cake. It is best served with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt and some strong Greek tea or coffee to counteract the sweetness.

Softened butter, for greasing
5 large eggs, separated
2 tbsp brandy
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Scant 1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2-1/2 tbsp self-rising flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
Scant 1/2 cup day-old white breadcrumbs
1-1/2 cups walnut pieces

Spice Syrup
Scant 2/3 cup superfine sugar
2/3 cup water
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Juice and thinly pared zest of 1 lemon


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Step 2: Butter and line the base and sides of a 9″ cake pan, preferably with a removable base.

Step 3: In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, brandy, orange zest and juice until smooth and creamy.

Step 4: Put the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, flour, baking powder, breadcrumbs and 1-1/4 cups of the walnuts into a food processor and blitz to fine crumbs. Tip the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Step 5: In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks.

Step 6: Fold the egg yolk mixture into the crumb mixture, then carefully fold in the egg whites, using a large metal spoon, until evenly incorporated.

Step 7: Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. To test, insert a skewer into the centre — if it comes out clean then the cake is done, if not return to the oven for a few more minutes.

Step 8: Make the spice syrup while the cake is in the oven. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool completely before straining through a strainer into a pitcher.

Step 9: Chop or crush the remaining walnuts into small pieces and set aside.

Step 10: Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and prick all over with a thin skewer. Sprinkle over the remaining walnuts, then spoon the cold syrup over the hot cake. Allow to cool before unmolding and serving.

Reprinted with permission from Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen (2010 Key Porter).

Photo Cookbook Gordon Ramsay World Kitchen