I love the Daring Bakers’ Challenges ! I get an adrenaline rush every time I take on one and it feels ecstatic when I’m able to accomplish it. I’m sure all of us Daring Bakers feel that way. Call me nuts but I keep on refreshing the challenge page on the 1st of every month to check the challenge of the month and ditto on the 27th to be awed by beautiful pictures of bakes posted by fellow daring bakers.
This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jason from dailycandor.com. Jason challenged us to bake two Armenian standards: Nazook and/or nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.
I chose to make the Armenian nutmeg cake for the challenge.
Armenian Nutmeg Cake:
1 cup milk (I used whole)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups packed brown sugar (I used 1 cup dark brown + 1 cup light brown muscovado sugar)
3/4 cup butter (I used salted)
1- 1/2 tsp ground fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped nuts ( I used almonds)
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
Mix the baking soda into the milk.
Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl.
Add the brown sugar. Now mix the flour and brown sugar together. Toss in the cubed butter.
Mash the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can also use your fingers if you want) till you get a more or less uniform brown coloured mixture.
Take half of this resulting crumbly mixture into a springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press to make a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles. (I lined the springform pan with greased butter paper since it was leaky.)
Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl.
Toss the nutmeg in with the egg. Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed. Once it’s mixed well and frothy ,pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform.
Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix that well with a spatula or whisk.
Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan.
Gently sprinkle the almond pieces over the batter.
Bake in a preheated 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.
Allow to cool in the pan, and then release.
What I loved most about the challenge was the traditional way of making it. Most of the steps of mixing and assembling the cake can be done manually. The resulting cake was very flavorful and this was probably the first time I had used nutmeg as the sole flavoring agent and boy ! I hadn’t expected such incredible results. The crumb was perfectly moist. Barring an unsightly crack on the surface, the cake was a winner!
Thank you Jason for the wonderful challenge ! I’m now looking forward to making the Nazook. Thanks for introducing us to a part of your rich Armenian culinary tradition.