Hey all! This week I’m comin at ya with a delicious, spicy Armenian nutmeg cake!
Armenia, for any who dont know where it is, is a landlocked country, situated in between Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Its equipped with some beautiful mountains, some old castles and lots of long and interesting history! Although…I couldn’t find much history of this cake. So I guess I cant speak to the authenticity of this particular cake, but I did see a lot of recipes for it, all claiming to be Armenian, so hopefully a native Armenian person won’t see this and be like “I’ve never even heard of that….” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, I found this to be an interesting cake, particularly because of the the crust on the bottom. It’s kind of like a cookie crust, sort of shortbread-y. I had read warnings in other recipes online, that you should take care to not press the crust in too hard, otherwise it will turn out rock hard. I tried to just lightly press it in, enough to get a smooth surface. But it still turned out pretty solid. It broke my plastic fork I was using! So..I’m not sure how to remedy that…maybe if anyone tries to make it, I wonder if you could just pour it in, and kinda shake it to even it out and just leave it?? Not sure if that would be too loose, but maybe it would help so you don’t break your utensils or your teeth!
This cake does taste strongly of nutmeg, and different recipes called for different amounts. The one I ended up following called for 1 tsp of ground nutmeg, another called for 2 tsp…I think I compromised and ended up using 1 1/2 tsp. It seems the most basic version of this cake has chopped walnuts in or on top of it, but I also used chopped pecans, since I had them on hand. My cake kinda caved in the center, and I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the weight of the nuts on top, or if the batter was a bit too moist. But alas. Still tasted good!
Other than that, I don’t have much to say about this cake! Its pretty easy to make, doesn’t take too long, and makes your house smell like nutmeg! All good things! And I got some good reviews form my friends at the potluck I took it too. It was completely gone by the end, so yay! Here are some more pictures of my process!
And as usual, here are some Armenian current events and facts and stuff! As of October 2017!:
-This past weekend, about two dozen youth from around the world visited Armenia, representing the International Union of Socialist Youth. They visited Yerevan and Artsakh. The purpose of the trip was to inform future leaders of the conflict in Karabagh, and to create a “more favorable” political space for discussion of the issue. The youth were representing Europe, U.S., the Middle East, and New Zealand. You can read more about this here. (In case anyone is not aware of the conflict, there is a section of land in Azerbaijan, called Nagorno-Karabakh, that is inhabited by both Armenians and Azerbaijanis. It is being surrounded by Armenian forces, and a war has been going on for the past few decades between the two nations, and the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh over whether the territory should united with Armenia or become independent. Things escalated over the years and haven’t calmed down much, and violence and fatalities continue.)
-Here’s a little hope within some sadness: Armenia has been ranked one of the least LGBT friendly countries in Europe, only beat out by Azerbaijan and Russia. And things are especially hard for transgender people, since they can’t as easily hide their identity as gay and lesbian individuals. All people in the LGBT community are in constant fear of bullying, discrimination and violence if they leave the house, but particularly transgender people. They have a hard time finding work, because many of them do not finish school, due to bullying, and they end up turning to prostitution to make a living. But fashion designer Agnes Malkhasyan has taken to teaching transgender people how to sew. She wants to help trans people learn a skill that they can use to work from home, so they dont have to be subject to horrible treatment outside their homes. As sad as it is that trans people have to live in that reality, at least there is someone trying to help them. 🙂 You can read more about this here.
-And lastly, lets just learn a few facts about Armenia that you may not have known! 1. Armenia’s capital Yerevan, is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities, constructed as it was 29 years before Rome. 2. It’s home to the world’s oldest winery, situated in a cave, near the village of Areni. 3. The world’s longest nonstop, double track cable car is in Armeina, connecting a village to a monastery in the mountains, and it spans over a mile, 5,752 ft, to be exact! Source.
Armenian Nutmeg Cake
- 2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed (I use dark brown)
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1⁄2 cup cold butter, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1cup milk (or you can substitute sour cream)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1⁄2 cup walnuts or 1⁄2 cup pecans, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9 inch square pan, and line with baking paper if desired.
- Combine flours, baking powder and salt, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- You can do this with the tips of your fingers or in your food processor.
- Then add sugar, and combine.
- Press half this mixture evenly over the base of the prepared cake pan, and reserve other half.
- Dissolve baking soda in milk (or sour cream), add beaten egg and nutmeg, then add to reserved mixture.
- Combine well.
- Pour into pan and sprinkle nuts, and some cinnamon if desired, over top.
- Bake in oven for 45 minutes to 60 minutes (start testing for doneness with a skewer after about 45 minutes).
- Allow to stand for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.