Love Cake with Figs, Pine Nuts and Rosemary

18 Apr


This cake is a traditional Armenian Spice Cake recipe handed to me by an old work colleague. It is my idea of a great cake. If you’re a sponge cake with jam and cream kind of person then this might not be for you, and I’m not sure if little kids will go for it. It’s a bit of a ‘grown up’ cake. It has a biscuity base, it is soft and dense and is flavoured with dark brown sugar and lots of fragrant nutmeg. It is quick and easy to make and has very few ingredients.

I have made this cake my own by using two ingredients which may seem unlikely cake topping ingredients but my palate loves them. I hope yours will too. They are typically savoury ingredients which I think complement the spice and brown sugar very well in this cake. Rosemary and pine nuts purportedly have aphrodisiac qualities (or at least significance to ancient societies for their fertility promoting qualities or sex appeal), as does the nutmeg, hence the name I’ve given it. Oh and today I had some figs ripe and ready to be eaten so I decided to use them too. I checked if they were suitably ‘sexy’ and it turns out some people say that it was in fact a fig with which Eve tempted Adam in the garden of Eden. So there was my answer!

You really can experiment with toppings for this cake. Chopped walnuts or pecans are apparently traditional and I have tried this many times. I like to toast them a little first to bring out the nuttiness. Once I made a tangy orange syrup to drizzle over the warm cake which was also fantastic! Natural yoghurt (or vanilla) is really nice with this. The tang really works with the sweetness from the dark brown sugar. A pineapple and mint salsa and some thick cream on the side is great too and has evoked rave reviews in the past.

Today I’m home and it’s rainy and cool outside and my house is filled with the aroma of cake! The anticipation’s getting to Paul!

Here’s the recipe. You’ll need…

1 cup SR flour

1 cup plain flour

1 cup dark brown sugar (or 1 1/4 regular brown)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

125g unsalted butter (but I’ve made it with salted and it tasted fine)

For the topping…

2 ripe figs, sliced

1 tbsp pine nuts (lightly toasted)

1 sprig rosemary, rinsed well under warm water

1/2 a fresh nutmeg, grated (or a whole one if you prefer – I use about 3/4)

My cute matrioshka measuring cups remind me of someone special ♡

Preheat oven…

… to 180 degrees fan bake setting. Grease a 21cm spring-form pan.

Into a large mixing bowl…

… sift flours, baking powder and sugar. Cut butter into cubes and rub into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Measure one third of this mixture (about a cup) and press it firmly into the bottom of the cake tin. Try to get an even layer. This will make the biscuit base.

Fine bread crumb texture is easiest with cold butter

In a separate bowl…

… dissolve the baking soda in the milk then add the egg and nutmeg. Mix well. Add the wet to the dry and combine well. I like to use a whisk for this step. Pour the cake mix into the tin and decorate with the fig slices, rosemary leaves and pine nuts (or whatever else you like).

Fresh nutmeg is easy to grate but you can use store bought ground nutmeg of course
If you use other fruit for garnish make sure you slice it fairly thin so it doesnt sink

Bake for around 50 minutes…

… the cake will be quite a dark colour. This is because of the dark brown sugar. It is important not to overcook this cake as the base can burn. If you think the top is really too dark, then cover it with foil about half way through to prevent it from getting too much darker. Keep an eye on it and when a wooden skewer comes out clean it is ready.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin

The texture of the cake is not super smooth. It is delicious served warm or at room temperature and keeps for a few days in an airtight container.  I hope this picture shows the biscuit base and texture of the cake.


7 Responses to “Love Cake with Figs, Pine Nuts and Rosemary”

  1. Meredith April 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Oh bliss! Can you please make one for Easter, please please… X

  2. susan April 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Now that cake looks absolutely delicious. I have always had an aversion to figs because my grandmother had a fig tree outside the bedroom I slept in at her house and it was raided by bats. If I didn’t go to sleep she would sing a “lullaby” which basically threatened that the flying fox would get me if I didn’t go to sleep! Somehow it turned me off figs. Time to reassess.

    • Claire April 19, 2011 at 7:41 am #

      Horrifying Susan! Have I ever told you why I can’t stomach paw paw? Similar story only perhaps minus the mean Grandmother! There’s not much fig in this actually – just enough to look nice, I think you’ll like it.

  3. Shaun D'Arcy May 15, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Your version looks ‘delicioso’ Claire. You should send a copy to Jay – she would love it!

    • Claire May 29, 2011 at 9:30 am #

      Yes! I think she would too! xx

  4. rosross January 25, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    Funnily enough I made a similar cake last week. Armenian nutmeg cake. Same sort of base but I threw in walnuts and used dark brown sugar.

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