I grew up not far from a spectacular place. My mom used to take me to visit the nursery as far back as I could remember. In my memory, the sun was always shining, the flowers were always in bloom, and a spectacular family lived in the house separated by a wooden fence. I liked to think the house was a real-life version of the secret garden, hiding behind the fence enclosed with vines. One day when I was small, one of the little girls from that house and nursery offered me a piece of her zebra stripe gum, and a lifelong friendship was formed.
The other little girl that lived in the house had a fondness for tea parties. She collected cups, and like many little girls are wont to do, had parties with stuffed animals and held mock weddings pretending she was marrying the neighbor boy. Or that’s how I remember it.
These two special people are still my friends to this day, and happily enough, have each in their own way helped me to celebrate and prepare for a real wedding–my own. Even though K is thousands of miles away, S stepped in with the tea and hats, photos, and friends. And A, a third friend, brought out her fabulous party and people coordinating abilities. It was a special time in the garden, with the sun shining and the flowers blooming. The only difference from my childhood memories was there was real tea served, more friends to celebrate beyond the stuffed animals, and the wedding this time around is really happening!
Now the cake–which is perfect for afternoon tea, was the April Daring Bakers Challenge recipe. 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. While it may seem as if this is just a standard spice cake, it really is special, with the crumbly crust and sweet hint of spice, not overpowering despite the amount added. To top it off, I made this cake both gluten and dairy free, though you can certainly substitute the butter and wheat flour back in!
Tea Party photos are credit to my dear friend Shannon at FotoNovella.Armenian Nutmeg Cake, makes one 6-inch cake 1/2 cup almond milk 1/2 tsp. baking soda 5 oz. whole-grain gf flour mix* (about 1 cup) 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum 4 oz. brown sugar (a bit over 1/2 a cup) 2 oz. coconut oil (1/4 cup) 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg toasted sesame seeds 1/2 an egg (I broke an egg, whisked, and separated half by weight. I mixed the other half into fried rice for dinner!)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk the baking soda into the milk. Set aside.
- Put the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until uniformly mixed.
- Spoon in the coconut oil, breaking into small pieces as you do so. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs.
- Pour HALF of the crumbs into your cake pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
- Pour the egg into the food processor with the rest of the crumbs still in it. Add the nutmeg to this addition. Pulse until well-incorporated.
- Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed.
- Pour the batter over the crust in your cake pan pan.
- Using a small bit of sesame seeds in your hands, gently sprinkle over the batter until it’s covered to your desired amount.
- Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 35-40 minutes. It’s ready when the top is golden brown, and when it passes the toothpick test.
- Cool the cake in the pan, and then dig in. It’s amazing with a nice cup of tea, I’m telling you!
- Sift all the flours together. Use 1 cup for this recipe and save the remaining for other uses.