from Yotam Ottolenghi
Use plain or vanilla Arab-style sesame halvah for this rich cake. To serve as a dessert, have thick whipped cream alongside. Makes one 9” x 5” loaf.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan with a little butter, and line the base and sides with parchment paper.
For the topping-
¼ cup unsalted butter
scant 1¼ cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
scant 3 tablespoons dark brown or muscovado sugar
6 oz. plain or vanilla Arab-style sesame halvah, broken into 1¼” pieces
Put the butter in a small saucepan and place over low to medium heat. Melt, then let it sizzle for about 3 minutes until it's light brown and smells slightly nutty. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, mix the butter, walnuts and cinnamon together. Divide the mixture in half and stir the brown or muscovado sugar into one of the portions; you may need to use your hands to break up the sugar and spread it evenly throughout the nuts. Prepare the cake batter.
For the cake batter-
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (plus extra for greasing the pan)
½ cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream
In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy, then add the eggs a little at a time until incorporated. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Add this to the batter alternating with the sour cream, in a couple of additions; be sure not to over mix.
Spread half the batter onto the bottom of the prepared pan and evenly scatter the sugarless nut mixture over the batter. Dot the halva on top, then use a small cookie or ice cream scoop to drop the remaining batter over this. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the batter – the halva may drag a bit into the batter, but don't worry about that. Finally, sprinkle the sugary nuts on top. Bake in the pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then gently remove from the pan by lifting the parchment paper. Remove the parchment paper and leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. (Best to use a serrated knife.) Wrap any leftovers in plastic wrap or aluminum foil- they will keep for a day or two.