Daring Baker’s April Challenge – Nutmeg Cake

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. Unfortunately I only had the spare time between packing boxes and my new job, to make one of this month’s challenges – Nutmeg Cake.

As a blogger (or trying to be one), I have found in the past and especially recently – the Daring Baker’s Challenges are always a great way to get back into blogging. Having a deadline to make and mastering the sometimes very challenging desserts is a great source of inspiration. As an avid baker it gives me a great excuse to make something delicious and as a way to explore further baking skills.

I first discovered my love of a great nutmeg cake in our last Christmas in Sydney, when S’s grandmother gave me a packet of Herbie’s Spices. This included some fabulous recipes which are part of my repertoire today – including the nutmeg cake. However, Jason’s Nutmeg Cake has everything you expect a nutmeg cake to be; nutty nutmeg, coffee cake crumb mixed with a crunchy base – just to mix it up a bit. This nutmeg cake has definitely been added to my long list of favourites and it will be a great variant on my reliable Herbie’s recipe.

This cake is a keeper, and not too challenging – especially with the help of a food processor.

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Then 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 well-incorporated.
8. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed.
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.

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