from the kitchen of an Anglo-Irish Australian, no Armenian within coo-ee...
A moist, spicy cake with a biscuit base (that’s “biscuit�? in Australian lingo, i.e. crisp and crumbly). Looks humble and unassuming. Look again, and it looks…gone.
To begin, remove one 4 oz stick of butter from the fridge and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (unless it’s a stinking hot day, in which case it’s perhaps best to live with cold butter, and why are you baking anyway?).
Grease and line an 8-inch springform cake tin.
Set oven to moderate (350° F).
2 cups dark brown sugar (no lumps)
2 cups self-raising flour
4 oz butter, cubed
1 tspn bicarb soda
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tspn nutmeg
a few walnuts (or pecans), chopped
Mix sugar, flour and butter together until texture is crumbly (like breadcrumbs). Resist temptation to use a machine for this as the results tend to be too homogenous, even sloppy – better to massage the butter cubes through the dry ingredients using your fingers. (Very therapeutic too.)
Press half the crumb mix into the base of the lined springform pan. Ensure that the layer is even, and not thicker at the sides.
Dissolve bicarb soda in milk. Add egg, nutmeg and nuts to remaining crumb mix with milk and soda solution. Pour over crumb mix layer in tin.
Bake in a moderate oven (350° F) for 60 minutes. Allow to stand 15 minutes before turning out.
Shelf-life – It is a rarely known fact that this cake will go stale very quickly. However, for the single cook with serious will-power, the cake can be made to last four to five days if wrapped tightly in waxed or parchment paper and kept in an airtight container.
Spices – The unknowing always seem to think this cake has ginger in it (perhaps because of the textures involved and the overall spicy/brown sugar taste). It can be fun to add cinnamon and/or ginger to the nutmeg. But it would also be a convincing ginger-less ginger cake for emergencies!