walnut halva cake

Although I have a copy of Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's new book Sweet, I've been so busy I haven't had time to bake anything from it as yet. I'm still working my way through Plenty More, where I found this recipe for Walnut and Halva Cake

I made it recently and whilst I loved the halva and walnut filling and topping, I found the cake itself quite bland. As well, the halva completely disintegrated during the cooking process leaving the cake looking a bit like Swiss cheese.

The second time I made the cake, I tweaked the cake recipe; I used pecans because I'd run out of walnuts; I increased the amount of halva in the centre and used a different brand; I also added a bit more sugar to the nuts and tried again.

The second cake was much better but try as I could, I could do nothing to stop the halva from melting into the cake mixture. It doesn't affect the flavour at all; it just makes for a holey cake.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes a small loaf cake. If you'd like to make a large loaf cake or a 23 cm cake, try the original Ottolenghi recipe or you can double all the ingredients and keep the baking time the same. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Walnut and Halva Cake – inspired by Ottolenghi
45g unsalted butter
90g walnuts, roughly chopped
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
30g brown sugar
125g plain or vanilla sesame halva, cut into 2 cm pieces

Cake Ingredients
100g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, lightly whisked
¾ cup self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1-2 tbs milk, yoghurt or sour cream

Put the butter in a small saucepan on a low to medium heat. Leave to melt, then let it cook for a few minutes until it's light brown and smells slightly nutty. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, stir in the walnuts, the cinnamon and the brown sugar.

Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a small loaf tin with a little butter, and line the base and sides with baking paper.

In a stand mixer, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla on a medium speed until light and fluffy, then add the eggs. Sift together the flour with a pinch of salt and add this in thirds alternately with the milk to make a smooth batter. Make sure not to over-mix.

Spread half the batter on the base of the cake tin and evenly scatter over half the nut mix. Dot the halva on top, and spread the remaining batter over this. Finally, sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.

Bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when tested. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then gently remove the cake from the tin by lifting the paper. Take off the paper and leave the cake to cool on a wire rack before cutting. The cake will keep for a day or two, stored in an airtight container.

The cake is good enough for a third try. Maybe next time I'll use some walnut meal in the mix and try yet another brand of halva???

Anyway it's time for me to go so until the next time.

Bye for now,


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