Armenian Nutmeg Cake



As noted in the previous post, the Latin name for nutmeg is Nux muscatus, and in the name of the recipe below, you can almost make out the Latin muscatus in the Aremenian meshgengouz.

This cake is really delicious. It has been a huge hit wherever I’ve taken it. It has a somewhat crunchy base and a moist, tender, fragrant top. The two parts really work together. Enjoy.

Meshgengouz Gargantag
(Armenian Nutmeg Cake)

2 cups white flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Grease a 9-inch-square baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour, baking powder, and salt a bowl and stir to combine. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs. (This is easily accomplished with your fingers, but you can use a food processor, if you don’t enjoy “hands-in” cooking.) Add the brown sugar and stir to combine thoroughly. Press half of the flour and sugar mixture into the bottom of the cake pan.

Beat the sour cream into the cream until mixture is smooth. Dissolve the baking soda in the cream mixture. Stir in the beaten egg and nutmeg. Add this to the remaining half of the flour and sugar mixture, stirring until the cream mixture and flour mixture are thoroughly combined. Pour this batter into the cake pan, smoothing so that it covers the base evenly. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the batter.

Bake for 40 to 55 minutes. (Test with a toothpick at 40 minutes — toothpick should come out clean.)

When done, allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving. Good hot or cold, as breakfast cake or dessert. Serves 9 to 12, depending on size of pieces.

Notes: I’ve seen versions of this recipe that use only sour cream, rather than sour and sweet. I’ve also seen versions that use 1 cup of milk in place of the heavy cream and sour cream. So depending on what you have handy, you have some options.

Using freshly grated nutmeg, which is incredibly fragrant, makes a big difference in this cake. However, if you simply can’t manage it, you might want to increase the amount of spice you’re adding to the recipe. If your store-bought ground nutmeg is very fresh, you might use a rounded teaspoon. If you’ve had it for a while, try 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons. If you can’t detect any nutmeg smell at all from your spice jar, you’ve probably had it for too long, so buy some fresh. A good rule of thumb with fragrant spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg is that, if there is no smell left at all, there is no taste left. Sample it, and if it tastes like sawdust, buy new.

If you want to remove the cake from the pan and you aren’t using a non-stick pan, you might want to put a sheet of baking paper in the bottom of the pan

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Filed under culinary history, Culture, Food, Language, Recipes

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