Walnut and halva cake

Ingredients

  • 85g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing 
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly whisked
  • 200g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Salt
  • 130g soured cream
  • For the topping:
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 120g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 25g dark muscovado sugar
  • 170g plain sesame halva, broken into large, 3 cm pieces
Walnut and halva cake

Makes one large loaf

Use plain or vanilla Arab-style sesame halva for this rich cake. To serve as a dessert, have thick whipped cream alongside.

  1. Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 2½. Grease a 12cm x 25cm loaf tin with a little butter, and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
  2. First, make the topping. Put the butter in a small saucepan on a low to medium heat. Leave to melt, then let it sizzle for a few 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, divide the mixture in two and stir the sugar into one of the portions (you may need to use your hands to break up the sugar and spread it evenly through the nuts).
  3. Now for the cake batter. 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. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt, and bit by bit add this and the cream alternately. Make sure not to over-mix.
  4. Spread half the batter on the base of the cake tin and evenly scatter over the sugarless nut mix. Dot the halva on top, and spread the remaining batter over this – the halva will drag a bit into the batter, but don't worry about that. Finally, sprinkle the sugary nuts on top.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then gently remove from the tin by lifting the greaseproof paper. Take off the paper and leave the cake to cool on a wire rack (it may crumble otherwise). Wrapped, the cake will keep for a day or two.