The Daring Bakers #19 Armenian 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.

OK I have a confession to make first - when I had my first bite of the Armenian cake I realy didn't like it much... but after about third or fourth bite I just loved it! It's an unusual taste but one that you can grow fond of. I'm realy pleased with the fact that from one butter you're getting two different types of cake - crust one at the bottom (and when I say crust it's really crispy, cookie like) and soft and fluffy one in the middle. What a great idea that you can use the same thing twice! This cake really grew on me and this recipe is realy a keeper! The only change I'll make next time baking this delicious cake will be adding some cinnamon along with the nutmeg and maybe changing the kind of nuts I'll use on the top.
P.S. Regarding the sugar - I used 250 g light brown sugar and 150 g dark brown sugar.

How to make it...

- 240 ml milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 280 g 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 baking powder
- 400 g brown sugar, firmly packed
- 170 g butter, preferably unsalted, cubed
- 55 g walnut pieces, may need a little more
- 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (try to grate it fresh yourself; the aroma is enchanting)
- 1 egg

Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that's for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.
Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. One sift is fine. Add the brown sugar. Go ahead and 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). You'll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture. 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.

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, 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.
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.

Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter. 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.
Allow to cool in the pan, and then release. Enjoy!