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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Armenian Nutmeg Cake - Daring Bakers' April Challenge

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

My Armenian Nutmeg Cake. What a divine cake! I cut it into 20 slices and 6 people at work polished it all off, so I guess that's more than 3 slices each for some. It's the nutmeg that makes it so delicious - I mean, who wants run-of-the-mill cinnamon for a coffee cake when you can have nutmeg!

I think this would make a lovely Christmas Holiday season cake, perhaps drizzled with water icing - it would be a welcome change, I think, from the heavy-duty Christmas fruit cakes and so much easier and less expensive.

Some bench notes: I will try using unbleached AP flour next time (I used a mix of pastry and regular flour which seemed to be very light - the batter on top was way too liquidy so it took too long to bake and the center was still soft and gooey - I ended up lopping the middle out of it with a pastry ring!) I would also like to try a smaller size,using half quantities and say a 6 or 7 inch springform. I would also like to try buttermilk instead of milk.

Armenian Nutmeg Cake
Makes one 9”/23cm cake which yields 12 servings
 1 cup (240 ml) milk (I use whole, but nonfat
or lowfat should be fine; non-dairy might
work just fine, as well)
 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose
(plain) flour (I suspect pastry flour or
another low-gluten flour might even work
better to achieve a light, fluffy crumb)
 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) baking
powder (I used single-acting, because it's aluminum-free, and it turned out fantastic)
 2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) butter, preferably unsalted, cubed
 1/2 cup (120 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) walnut pieces, may need a little more
 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons (5 to 7 ½ ml) (5 to 8 gm) ground nutmeg (try to grate it fresh yourself; the
aroma is enchanting)
 1 egg

Food Processor Way

1. Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4 .
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until
uniformly mixed.
4. Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs.
5. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your
fingers and knuckles.
6. Crack the egg into the food processor with the rest of the crumbs still in it.
7. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that into the food processor, too. Pulse until wellincorporated.
8. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is
9. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
10. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
11. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 30-40 minutes. It's ready when the top is golden brown,
and when it passes the toothpick test (comes out clean).
12. Cool the cake in the pan, and then dig in. Yum yum!