Apparently I cannot make cake while the sun shines, because when I do, it rains. The clouds are against me and all I’ve got rooting for me is this cake. Doing its best to brave the dark shadows that fall over it as my camera and I try valiantly to will the sun to come out again. (Seriously, what is UP with the weather!)
This cake can take all cakes. No question. It is moister than moist, powered by the winning combination of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, filled with all sorts of wondrous liquids and has enough honey to make Pooh Bear make a beeline (hee hee) for it.
Guys, this is my new favourite cake. I want to make it all day, every day. And you will too.
This is a mash-up of two recipes with the same foundations. One from the super dependable Smitten Kitchen who uses orange juice and whiskey as extra moist-makers and I was so intrigued, I was day dreaming about this cake, and then I also found one by Pretty Simple Sweet whose version makes one perfect 9×5 loaf, just the size I was looking for.
But since I definitely wanted to use all that extra liquid, I upped the flour just a bit and then to make sure the cake still stayed soft, upped the oil a bit too. (This cake is dairy-free by the way. Oil-based cakes FTW!) The sugar was reduced and subbed with brown instead of white and the honey, oh honey. It doesn’t actually make the cake over-sweet which is what I was sceptical of, because all of those glorious spices. Cinnamon I probably inhale as often as oxygen, so it was in the batter before I knew it, but for the first time, I used powdered cloves and after much deliberation, nutmeg. I was seriously put off with nutmeg after tasting the Indian Starbucks version of a pumpkin frappucino and it was literally just nutmeg and, just no. Anyway, I discovered pretty late in life, that just a teeny weeny bit of nutmeg powder can actually take the monsoon/fall/autumn/awesome flavours to some other level.
You can’t actually taste the coffee or the whiskey, but there is a deep flavour that they impart and would be missed if they weren’t in this cake. The orange is subtle, but does surprise you with its citrusy-ness between bites. This is basically a magic cake. Abra-cake-dabra?
Just look at that texture. The cake is fragile, so fragile that I wouldn’t want you to attempt taking it out of the tin till it’s completely cooled. In fact, even my terrific non-stick tin stood no chance against it and my normally, ‘flip, tap and invert’ philosophy did not work so I was reduced to cutting out a couple of slices, then prising the cake out with a silicone spatula. You could definitely line the tin with baking paper for easy removal, but the corners of the cake might get a bit raggedy, or alternatively, simply slice the entire cake in the tin itself and take each slice out slowly. The silicone spatula shenanigans are only for those with mildly unnecessary enthusiasm. Aka me.
The cake takes some prep, because of all the ingredients you need to assemble but the batter itself is fairly straightforward. Since it’s a runny batter, it will take longer than an average cake to cook completely, but patience is rewarded 🙂
This the kind of cake that will intensify in flavour the day after it’s made, letting the spices really work their magic and for the moist-makers to make things even more, well, moist. It is deeply flavoured with a sort of molasses type earthiness (this is the only time ‘earthiness’ actually fits) thanks to the honey, balanced out nicely by the cloves more than anything else, made slightly crunchy by the almonds that get all toasty and the aroma every time you lift the lid off will make you beg for a fireplace and fluffy slippers, except ha ha, this is Mumbai.
We can still have cake though, come rain or sun, once the weather makes up its mind 🙂
- 1 and ⅓ cups regular/all-purpose flour*
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp clove powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
- ⅛ cup whiskey
- ½ cup warm black tea/coffee*
- Almonds, walnuts, pecans for garnish, optional
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 170 C and generously grease a 9x5 non-stick loaf tin.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, sugar, oil and honey. Beat well till combined, a hand-mixer is easier.
- Add the orange juice, whiskey and coffee and beat again.
- Fold in the flour and spices mixture, and run a hand mixer through the batter to remove any lumps. The batter will be runny.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin, sprinkle chopped or sliced nuts on top and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cake has risen, cracked a little in the center, and a toothpick poked in comes out with only moist crumbs, no wet batter.
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin, before slicing or un-moulding. Please read the post for my recommendations here.
- The cake will taste best on day two. Serve with hot tea or coffee!
*1/2 cup hot water with 1 tsp instant coffee powder or 1 teabag, set aside to cool for a few minutes.
*Feel free to play around with the spices, you can't go wrong.