I’m sooo happy to be blogging again! I’ve put up just a single post this entire year. But to make up for it, I’m going to be blogging this whole month and I hope this will be the much-needed kick for me to blog more regularly. I’ll be blogging the whole of September alphabetically, with a dish from a new country each day. Giving me company is my group of online blogging pals who participate in the monthly Blogging Marathon hosted by Srivalli. So each day each blogger will select a country of her choice (no, I’m no feminist. But it just so happens that all participating bloggers are women!) – the country name starting with the alphabet of the day – and cook/bake a popular dish from that country. Doesn’t it seem exciting?
To kick off all the alphabetic cooking, here’s a rustic, beautiful and flavourful cake – a teacake from Armenia that’s spiced with nutmeg. I’ve been itching to make this one for a really long time. This cake was actually the Daring Bakers challenge for the month of April 2012, that was around the time I was blogging quite regularly, notwithstanding the little two-month old fella in my arms!
Coming back to the cake, Jason, who blogs at dailycandor.com was the host for that month’s DB challenge says that the cake is a twist on the traditional coffee cake. The cake is made up of two layers – a buttery biscuit layer at the bottom and a moist soft cake layer on top. You can, in fact, call it three layers if you include the generous scattering of nuts on top!
And as is the case with all my bakes these days, the cake is made without any refined ingredients are is also almost all-organic. I’ve used whole wheat flour with some almond meal (to lighten it up) in place of all purpose flour/maida and used a combination of powdered palm sugar and jiggery for the brown sugar in the recipe. Only the butter in the cake was non-organic. I got the whole grain push from a client of mine (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a home baker and bake on orders. See the FB page for Lotsa Lavender for an idea of what I do) who eats only whole foods and organic produce. She orders something or the other each fortnight, mainly cookies and bread, and over a period of time I too shifted to using only whole grains while baking.
The cake was a breeze to make, especially considering that I set out to make this past midnight and was done in about an hour. It was a pain to wait for it to cool down so I could remove it from the pan though. Even more difficult was fighting the urge to cut out a slice to eat – it was way beyond midnight and not the best of times to click a picture. So I woke up early in the morning to click and once done, I just dug in!
On cooling, the cake sank a little in the centre. I guess the reason for the same was not adjusting the quantity for curd (used to replace the egg in the original). The recipe calls for one egg, so for the 3/4th quantity I baked, I should have used 2-3 tbsp curd. I added 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp by mistake! The excess liquid in the batter could have been the culprit, making the cake sink. I had to bake the bake for an additional 10 minutes (i baked it at 150 deg)
But the cake was still delicious. It was not too sweet and wonderfully aromatic too. Try it for yourself!
Note: I used three-fourths the quantities mentioned in the original recipe and baked it in an 8” springform pan
Armenian Nutmeg Cake
(Makes one 8” cake)
Milk – ¾ cup
Powdered palm sugar – ¼ cup
Powdered jaggery – 1 ¼ cups (See notes)
Whole wheat flour – 1 ¼ cup
Powdered almonds – ¼ cup
Cold butter – 100 grams, diced (see notes)
Baking powder – 1.5 tsp
Baking soda – ¾ tsp
Curd – ¼ cup (see notes)
Ground/grated nutmeg – 1 tsp
Almonds – ¼ cup, roughly chopped
Salt – a pinch (I forgot to add this)
Preheat the oven to 175° C
Grease an 8-inch spring form pan. Line the base with butter/parchment paper
Dissolve the baking soda in milk
Combine flour, palm sugar powder, jaggery powder, baking powder and salt, and then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
Press half of this mixture evenly over the base of the prepared pan
Add ground nutmeg and curd to the milk-soda mixture
Pour the liquid mix into the reserved flour-butter mixture and mix well
Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the chopped almonds over the top
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or till the cake turns golden on top
Allow to cool before removing from the pan
I use organic jaggery which is pre-powdered and free of grit and impurities. If you use regular jiggery, it will be prudent to dissolve it in the milk and remove any impurities that float on top
I’d probably use 100-110 gm of butter next time round. There was ample to hold the dough that’s patted on to the base of the pan. Also, wrap the springform pan in foil or place it on a cookie tray/parchment sheet when placing it in the oven. Some of the butter from the cookie base leaked through even though I’d lined the base with butter paper
I’ve used 1/4 cup curd to replace the egg in the original recipe
Grease the sides of your pan well, else line with butter/parchment paper. My cake got stuck to the sides of the pan in a couple of places
Countries starting with A