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Baking spray (Recipe: Lucia's walnut cake) {gluten-free}

Walnut cake

Baking spray changed my life.

I don't bake often, or very well, and when I do, I can be a bit of a lazy baker.

Up until a couple of years ago, when a recipe said to "butter and flour the pan", I'd drench my cake pans with cooking spray. Then I'd watch little puddles form in the corners as the spray slid down the sides of the pans.

One day my friend Cindy, an executive pastry chef, introduced me to baking spray -- cooking spray with flour added -- "butter and flour" in a single can.

No sliding, no pooling. You spray, and it stays.

Baking spray

Baker's Joy, which has been around for 25 years, contains soybean oil; PAM Baking Spray and Trader Joe's baking spray are canola oil based. They work well, add no calories or carbs to baked goods, don't leave an aftertaste, and have a shelf-life of forever.

Try baking spray in any recipe that calls for buttering and flouring your cake pan or muffin tin (it's especially handy for reaching into all the crevices of a Bundt pan) -- recipes like banana walnut-oat muffins, pear-walnut cake with honey orange syrup, sweet corn coffeecake, and peanut butter and jelly shortbread wedges.

Baking spray will change your life.


Lucia's walnut cake

From Faith Heller Willinger's Adventures of an Italian Food Lover, this dense, richly flavored, not too sweet cake serves 6-8. Add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to each plate when you serve, if you wish.


Baking spray
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Do not use a convection oven. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with baking spray.

Combine 3 egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan and stir over low heat with a wooden spoon until the mixture looks like melted marshmallows, 10 minutes or more.

In a large bowl, with a whisk, beat the remaining 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.

Mix the walnuts into the cooked egg whites. Stir a heaping spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the walnut mixture, then fold the remaining whites in carefully. Transfer the batter to the pan, sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, and bake 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Apple tart
Walnut squares
Indian pudding
White chocolate brownies
Apple spice cake

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You've done it - you've convinced me I need baking spray. I've always resisted it, because it just seemed so artificial. And to think I've been wrangling with a stick of butter and a bundt pan for years! I am definitely going to give it a test run and see how I like it. Thanks!

I love cooking spray, I even use it on non-stick surfaces. Haley you're going to love the "baking" spray especially when you use your bundt pan.

Wow, I didn't even realize this existed. Now I neeeeed it!

Sheer torture Lydia. No such luxury across the oceans here, but ooooooh, the cake. It's fabulous!

I use a lot of spray oils when grilling since it is so much easier to spray the grates.

Since I am slowly making my way into baking I will have to look for this because I never thought that the stuff without flour could cause puddles.

This reminds me of pecan pie only with walnuts. I'd love this, because pecan pie is usually a little too sweet, even for me!

Thanks for the Baking Spray tip. That cake looks delicious. I might make it this weekend.

I've never used it...I think now I'll have to try. :)

I fell in love with baking spray (in fact, it was that particular Trader Joe's spray that originally converted me) the first time I used it. The only problem with keeping it around is that I bake far more when I have it in my cabinet than I do when I've run out.

What an unusual way of using egg whites. I wonder if you could use "Just Whites" or the egg whites that come in a container. I would have little use for 6 egg yolks and dislike throwing away "good stuff". This pie must be the chewiest!!!!

Thanks for the use of egg whites - I get challenged when I make mayo and have those poor lonely egg whites left over. I usually just scramble them but this is a good recipe

Thanks for the tip! I've never heard of baking spray before. I used some sort of PAM spray at my mother's house last weekend when I made a tart for Easter; now I wonder if it was a baking-specific spray.

I could not live without my spray. I love it. Beautiful cake.

Haley, for Bundt pan baking alone, you need to have this spray on hand. You won't believe how easy it makes everything.

Cindy, I have you to thank for liberating me from "butter and flour" tyranny.

Catnip, oh yes you do!

Deeba, the cake was really delicious. A bit of vanilla ice cream would make it even better.

Jeff, I like the pump sprays for oiling the grill (though we should remind people to do that when the grill is cold).

Maris, this has a chewy texture, and unlike pecan pie, it's really not very sweet. But if you like one, you'll like the other, I think -- the nut flavor really comes through.

Food Hunter, this cake was the perfect ending to an Italian dinner.

Bridget, it's pretty handy for cookie baking, too!

Marisa, I haven't had that problem because I'm such a bake-o-phobe! But when I do bake, I often reach for this spray, which keeps most everything from sticking.

Pauline and Kim: you two need to start cooking together; one uses egg yolks, the other egg whites. A match made in heaven!

Christina, if the PAM stayed put where you sprayed it, it probably was baking spray.

Noble Pig, thanks. The cake was super-easy to make, too.

I usually take on the task of buttering and flouring but your point about reaching into the crevices has convinced me that I should probably look into baking spray from now on.

Just fyi, the baking spray would not be good for a gluten-free cake (if you are truly Celiac!). ;) I use extra virgin olive oil spray because of refining process used to treat canola and soybean oil, but a spray here and there doesn't amount to much. Sounds like a convenient product!

That cake is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing the photos and recipe. Will definitely be trying it!

I used to use spray, but I've got back to the old shortening (organic natural of course) and flour. It just seems to work better for me than the spray. I also am learning to love baking things in cast iron, no flour needed, only a good rub down with shortening and you're good to go, and those crusts come out perfecty crispy and light.

The cake looks fantastic. Looks like something Mr Chiots would LOVE.

I have just been considering getting the flour and spray kind - you have convinced me. You know I am a bundt cake pan lover - I think I need it!

Kathy, it's certainly worth testing the spray to see if you like it. Can't beat the convenience of it.

Lauren, you are absolutely right, and thanks for mentioning that the baking spray is not GF.

Chiot's Run, a well-seasoned cast iron pan should not need any type of greasing for many applications. It takes a long time to season your pans to perfection! This spray will be great for baking in other types of pans, I think.

Natashya, for Bundt pans, this stuff is amazing! I know you will love it.

I don't bake enough to keep this around, though, I guess if I kept it around, I might bake more.

hey. one thing though. you mentioned using this in a gluten free recipe and THAT would be a big mistake...

but i love this recipe! it's perfect and would whip up quick. i'd drizzle it with some chocolate too... am definitely making this at some point.

Pam, you might indeed....

Claudia, thanks so much for the catch. I've updated the post. You would definitely not want to use this product if you need to eat gluten-free! Now, about chocolate on walnut cake -- absolutely.

I only have a convention oven (its a little stovetop one) so why can't I use it?

Hurrah for Baker's Joy! I've been using it since it first became available with few failures over the years.

Haven't tried Trader Joes since the nearest would involve a trip on two buses (thank goodness for a bus pass). I have used the Pam spray and wasn't happy with it. It seems to have a fake vanilla scent and caused my cake to stick.

I'm not a lazy baker and I still use it.
I didn't know TJ's made one.

The next time I stop by at the grocery store I'll get one. Never used it before.Thanks.

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