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Super Simple Black Walnut Cake With Cream Cheese Icing From Scratch

Amanda Payne is a food enthusiast who loves to create insanely delicious recipes.

My layered black walnut cake with cream cheese icing, all made from scratch.

My layered black walnut cake with cream cheese icing, all made from scratch.

Great Cake for Holidays and Celebrations

People have associated significant moments in life with cake for hundreds of years. Many families have desserts they serve traditionally during holidays. As for me, I love to bake cakes and maybe a pie or two and, of course, we have to have banana pudding.

I bake this layered black walnut cake for my husband's birthday every year. If I don't mention it, he makes sure I know he wants one. Baking a cake from scratch is easier than you might think. Gather simple ingredients, mix, pour in the greased pans, and bake. Let's get started!


Prep: 15 minCook: 25 minTotal: 40 min

Equipment Needed

  • 3 (9-inch) round cake pans
  • Large bowls (2 for the cake, 1 for the icing)
  • Measuring spoons (tablespoon, teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Measuring cups
  • Sifter
  • Electric mixer
  • Large spoon
  • Cake plate or dish

Step 1: Make the Cake

The first step is to make the cake. Please make special note of those ingredients that should be room temperature: butter, eggs, and buttermilk. If these ingredients are not at room temperature, the batter will not have a smooth silky consistency. In addition, when the cake is baked, it will have ugly air holes.


  • 1 stick / 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups pure granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (more if the batter is too thick)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups black walnuts
  • Vegetable oil or shortening for greasing the pans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease your cake pans well.
  2. Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl using a mixer.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, to the same bowl and beat each egg with the mixture until creamy.
  4. In a different bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, salt, and baking soda.
  5. To the creamed ingredients, add around a 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of the flour mixture, alternatingly. Mix well until smooth after each addition. Do this until everything is incorporated.
  6. Add vanilla and mix well.
  7. Fold in the black walnuts.
  8. Distribute the cake batter between the pans. Drop each pan about a foot from the counter a few times to remove air and help level your batter.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center of a cake. It is ready if the toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Set the cakes pans on cooling racks. Once cooled, remove the cakes from the pans and place them on the cooling racks.
Black walnut cake batter poured into three round cake pans.

Black walnut cake batter poured into three round cake pans.

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Step 2: Make the Icing

Once your cakes are in the oven, you can start making the icing.


  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup butter softened, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup of black walnuts, broken


  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.
  2. Add and blend butter.
  3. Gradually combine the powdered sugar 1-2 cups at a time.
  4. Add vanilla and beat until creamy.

Note: If you feel the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency. If it is too thick, add a tiny dash of water.

Three black walnut cakes cool while I make cream cheese icing in a bowl.

Three black walnut cakes cool while I make cream cheese icing in a bowl.

Step 3: Assemble and Ice the Cake

  1. Once the cake layers have cooled down completely, put one layer of cake on the cake plate or dish and pour icing over the top. The icing can be messy or elegant. The choice is yours.
  2. Add the second layer to the first, add icing, add the final layer, and add icing.
  3. Sprinkle 1 cup of broken black walnuts over the top and sides and then serve.

Can I Freeze Black Walnut Cake?

Thankfully, you can freeze this cake. You can freeze it whole, a half of a cake, or even individual slices.

How to Freeze Cake

First, place the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours with nothing touching it other than the cake board that it is resting on. Once hardened, remove it from the freezer, wrap it generously in saran wrap, and then one final layer of aluminum foil. Place it back into the freezer. It will keep for up to six months.

How to Thaw Frozen Cake

Since this layered black walnut cake is thick, it might take several hours or even a day to thaw all the way through. When ready, remove the cake from the freezer. Place it on a cake plate and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Wait a few hours and try to remove the foil and saran wrap. If it comes off easily, continue removing it. If not, wait a few more hours. You can test that it has thawed by inserting a thin knife or a kabob skewer in the middle.


Baking a black walnut cake with cream cheese icing from scratch is super simple. Plus, you can freeze leftovers for later. Using a box of cake mix and a tub of cream cheese icing from the grocery store will still be good, but I promise it will not be as tasty. The hardest part of the whole process is knowing when to put down the fork!

© 2021 Amanda Payne

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