Saturday, April 28, 2012

Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake

Oh, man--I'm late!



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.

Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake
It's a grumpy looking cake, but it tasted wonderful . . . Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake
I had a good start with the sturdy crust and thick batter.

Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake
Then I sprinkled the walnuts over the top.

Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake
And the cake ate them.

Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake
And puckered up tight.

Daring Bakers April: Armenian Nutmeg Cake
Is it grumpy? Or is it grinning?

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  • 1 cup milk (I use whole, but nonfat or lowfat should be fine; non-dairy might work just fine, as well)
  • 2 cups flour (I use all-purpose, but I suspect pastry flour or another low-gluten flour might even work better to achieve a light, fluffy crumb)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or more) walnut pieces
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder (I used single-acting, because it's aluminum-free, and it turned out fantastic)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 oz (170 g) butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (try to grate it fresh yourself; the aroma is enchanting)
  • a springform pan (9"/23 cm should be perfect)
What you'll want it to look like at the end of step #6.
What you'll want it to look like at the end of step #6.
The pressed-out crust (step #7)
The pressed-out crust (step #7)
Voila!
Voila!

Directions - the Traditional Way (The Fast, Easy Way further down)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Mix the 1 tsp of baking soda (not baking powder; that's for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.
  3. Sift the 2 cups of flour and 2 tsp of baking powder into a large bowl. One sift is fine
  4. Add the 2 cups of brown sugar. Go ahead and mix the flour and brown sugar together. Or not.
  5. Toss in the 6 oz (170 g) of butter in cubes.
  6. Mash the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can also use your fingers if you want). You'll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.
  7. Take HALF of this resulting crumbly mixture into your springform pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles. It will be easy.
  8. Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl.
  9. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that in with the egg.
  10. Start mixing with a whisk attachment, or a whisk if you're doing it manually. Once it's mixed well and frothy, pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform.
  11. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix that well, with either a paddle attachment, or a spatula. Or continue to use the whisk; it won't make much of a difference, since the resulting batter is very liquidy.
  12. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
  13. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
  14. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 350F (175C). You'll know it's done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  15. Allow to cool in the pan, and then release. Enjoy!

An Even Easier Way...if you have a Food Processor

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Mix the 1 tsp of baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.
  3. Put 2 cups of flour, 2 tsp of baking powder, and 2 cups of brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until uniformly mixed.
  4. Toss in the 6 oz (170 g) of butter in cubes. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs.
  5. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
  6. Crack an 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.
  9. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
  10. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
  11. Bake for approx. 30-40 minutes at 350F (175C). 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!
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