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Armenian nutmeg cake

Armenian nutmeg cake

Sally and Ross Smith bought their walnut orchard near Oberon, NSW in 2009 and sell their nuts through the Bathurst and Orange farmers' markets. These walnuts are a world away from the soggy, floury imported ones we mostly find on supermarket shelves. Sally and Ross’ nuts are harvested by hand and dried with care. They also only sell nuts within a year of harvest. This means they keep that warm, creamy taste for a year in the shell, or three months in the vacuum pack. This recipe was given to Sally’s mother 40 years ago and produces a warm, spiced cake that is such a treat.


Sophie Hansen


330 g (1½ cups firmly packed) brown sugar
225 g (1½ cups) self-raising flour
1 tsp ground nutmeg
110 g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg
185 ml (¾ cup) milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
20 new-season walnut halves (see Note)

Cook's notes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 10 minutes

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Butter a 20 cm deep cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg in a large bowl or a food processor.  Add the butter and cut in with a knife or whiz in the processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place half in the cake tin.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, add the milk and bicarbonate of soda, then blend into the remaining flour mixture. Pour over the dry crumbly mixture in the cake tin. Place the walnut halves on top and bake for about 45 minutes. The cake will be cooked when it springs back if pressed gently.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before carefully turning out. Serve.


• New-season walnuts are available from farmers' markets.

Recipe from Local is Lovely by Sophie Hansen, with photographs by Sophie Hansen.

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