A couple of weekends ago my parents turned up with a bag of fresh walnuts from their local farmers market and hinted that they’d love to see them in “one of those Armenian nutmeg cake’s you used to make”.
Now, I’m pretty sure I never actually made this cake, more likely I was the one putting in the request to mum. But I took the hint and added the challenge of giving it a Swoon Food makeover i.e. turning it dairy & gluten free!
So what is an Armenian nutmeg cake?
Well, leaving the Armenian part aside for a moment, it’s best described as a beautifully fragrant spice cake which is made up of two layers.
The bottom layer is a dense, heavily spiced, almost biscuit-like layer, while the top is a light, fluffy cake which is topped with walnut halves.
I used to think the best part of this cake was the spiced biscuit layer because of it’s intense flavour, so I’d always ask mum to “put extra bottom layer in” when she was making it.
But now I appreciate the cake as a whole and can see how cleverly the two different layers truly compliment each other.
After looking this recipe up online, I’m not entirely sure this Armenian nutmeg cake is a recipe native to Armenia at all.
All the links seem to point to the recipe either being handed down or passed on from friend to friend between New Zealand and Australia. One home baker even had their Armenian neighbour search all their traditional cook books only to confirm they’d never heard of such a cake.
I wouldn’t even be surprised if this Armenian nutmeg cake made an appearance in the Women’s Weekly Cookbook, which was the cooking bible of all NZ/Australian home bakers back in the 80’s and 90’s.
Needless to say, I think it’s quite possible this recipe might have originated on this side of the world and someone clever decided to give it an exotic name to go with it’s exotic flavours.
Either way, it’s clearly a very memorable cake that’s well worth the baking effort!
When you make this exotic, spiced, two layered nutmeg and walnut cake, let me know!
Leave a comment below, and be sure to tag your pictures #swoonfood on Instagram or facebook. Enjoy!
Armenian Nutmeg Cake with Walnuts
Makes: 1 x 8″ cake
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 50 minutes
1 cup /120g ground almonds (almond meal)
1/2 cup / 80g rice flour
1/2 cup / 70g buckwheat flour
3/4 cup / 120g coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
125g coconut oil
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup / 140g plant based milk
1/2 cup / 140g coconut yoghurt
1/4 cup rice syrup, pure maple syrup or raw honey
1/2 cup fresh walnut halves or pieces
Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan bake. Line an 8″ springform tin with baking paper.
Place the ground almonds, rice flour, buckwheat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt into a mixing bowl and stir until evenly combined.
Gently melt the coconut oil over low heat and then add to the dry mix, stirring until evenly mixed. Alternatively use a food processor to combine the ingredients.
Press 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the cake tin and set aside.
Gently warm the plant milk then stir in the baking soda. Add this to the remaining cake mix along with all the other remaining ingredients except for the walnuts, and stir (or process) until well combined.
Pour the cake mix into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Sprinkle the walnuts over the top and place the cake into the centre of the oven to bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in it’s tin on a wire rack to ensure the cake keeps it’s form.
When the cake is cool, remove from tin and serve with a warm cup of chai.
In order to make this recipe completely vegan, could a flax egg be used instead of a regular egg?
Hi Senta, I haven’t tried it using a flax egg but I think it should work fine – I would also add 1/2 tsp baking powder to give it a bit of air. Let me know how it turns out if you make it! 🙂
I just searched for a GF version of this cake that I used to make often. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I will try something other than buckwheat flour as my family don’t like the flavour.
I agree about the likely Australian origin. it was one of THE cakes of the 90’s in Australia.
I used to make this cake as my contribution to school fetes and cake stalls. It is reliable, flavoursome and only takes one egg which one usually has in the fridge!!
I will post my effort if it looks as successful as your’s
Hi Sue, it was such an iconic cake back then wasn’t it! Hopefully you enjoy this gluten free version just as much. You could easily sub the buckwheat flour for more rice flour or a GF flour mix. Can’t wait to hear how yours turns out! 🙂
This cake recipe was a gift from the Iranian people when Armenians were exiled in Iran. They took the recipe back with them upon their return from exile. I don’t remember where I read this, nor which century this occurred in…
Thanks for sharing a gf version of this beloved recipe.