There's a lot to be said for simple. Especially on a spectacularly wet weekend when your options are pretty well limited to curling up on a couch with a cup of tea and a fat piece of cake made with pantry staples and a bit of sour cream you had left over in the fridge.
My good friend who came to stay in late May had enthusiastically recommended this particular cake, a recent discovery of hers. On our weekend together, she'd scrolled tirelessly through endless recipes online to find a version of the one she'd tasted without nuts, which from our basic internet search, would appear to be quite common in Armenian nutmeg cakes but - she insisted - were not necessary. After making it, I'd have to agree - this sweet, spice-infused cake is perfect just as it is. Two textures - a crunchy base and a soft, springy sour cream crumb, sprinkled with cinnamon.
Lest you think the two texture thing sounds tricky let me tell you it's not. This is practically a one-bowl affair. The finished cake tastes like the best sort of cinnamon doughnut, even better for not having to drag out a deep fryer or be spattered with hot oil. Plus, with baking you have the benefit of both oven warmth and the seductive, slow-release scent of cinnamon. Hard to beat on a rainy weekend in winter.
Armenian nutmeg cake
Adapted from Claire K Creations, as recommended by my friend Amy
I made a half quantity of this - mainly because I balked at the amount of brown sugar - and it made a still very generous cake. The original recipe (below) calls for a square tin but I used an 8 inch round one and it worked beautifully. If you do halve the recipe as I did, just be sure to bake for a little less time. Check after 40 minutes.
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
½ cup cold butter, roughly chopped
1 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp ground nutmeg
ground cinnamon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) fan-forced.
Grease a 20cm (9 inch) square cake pan and line it with baking paper.
Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir them together. Add the butter and using your fingertips, rub the butter though until it forms a texture like fine breadcrumbs (you can also use a food processor for this - it works well).
Add the sugar and stir it through.
Take half of this mixture and tip it into the tin. Press it into the tin.
In a small bowl, add the sour cream and bicarb soda and stir it through until it has dissolved. Add the beaten eggs and nutmeg then add them to the other half of the flour mixture.
Mix it all together well then pour it into the tin. Dust the batter with a little cinnamon.
Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a skewer/toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Leave it to sit in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool.