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27.4.12

Armenian nutmeg cake- April Daring Bakers Challenge

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.

And fragrant they were. I made both and cannot decide which one I prefer, both recipes are so scrumptious. The Nazook reminded me a little of something we call "Franzbroetchen" in Hamburg, sweet but not too sweet and something you could have for breakfast or afternoon tea. Well, even though the recipe yields 40 pieces I never got around to photograph them - they just happened to disappear too quickly. We had them for breakfast (very Italian), with coffee as morning and afternoon tea and as a snack on the road. The yeast becomes so flaky using the sour cream it's quite amazing and tastes more like puff pastry without the fat (almost diet food ;-). The filling was extremely yummy, not too sweet but with the right amount of brown sugar for that caramel taste, mmmh! Okay I cheated a bit and also added a little of a spice mix I've got from Herbies called Spice Dust.  If you can't get hold of it, it contains cocoa, cassia, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg among other things.

The tea cake also was a very delicious recipe. Easy to make and just very clever the way it uses half of the crumbly dough for the bottom and the rest for making the filling/topping. Lovely with walnuts but I am sure it will be nice with any other nut.

Because we were so busy munching the Nazooks and no one dared to cut the cake I was actually able to take photos of it. It's such a lovely cake and gorgeous with a nice cup of tea.


The perfect autumn tea cake.




Collecting autumn leaves for craft, then coming home for afternoon tea.





























Armenian Nutmeg Cake

Makes one 9”/23cm cake which yields 12 servings
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 (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
Directions:
Directions - the Traditional Way (The Fast, Easy Way further down)
1. Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that's for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.
3. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. One sift is fine
4. Add the brown sugar. Go ahead and mix the flour and brown sugar together. Or not.
5. Toss in the cubed butter.
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 (9”/23cm) 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. Toss the nutmeg in with the egg.
10. Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed, or mix with a hand whisk if you're doing it manually. Once it's mixed well and frothy (about 1 minute using a standing mixer, or about 2-3 minutes of vigorous beating with a whisk), 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 liquid.
 12. Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan.
 13. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
14. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes. 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 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 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. Yum yum!

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: Nazook will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks, and the Armenian nutmeg cake will keep (covered) at room temperature for 2-3 days. Both taste even better still warm from the oven.
Allow to cool completely before attempting to freeze. Nazook will freeze best if put in a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out. Armenian Nutmeg Cake will also freeze fairly well if completely sealed. Both can be frozen for up to 3 months.

3 comments:

Gingered Whisk said...

Beautiful job! Your nutmeg cake is simply stunning! :)

Irina said...

Wonderful photos and a great looking nutmeg cake! Same thing that happened to you with nazooks happened to me with the cake :)) But it's all for the best, isn't it?

zazacook said...

It's really fun to see that you baked nazook and nutmeg cake in automn.:) Your cake is wonderful!!!
Great challenge! Gorgeous photos!