Good Morning Greek Spice Cake

Attention athletes, skiers and early-morning risers: If you ever need to be out the door and on the road in the wee hours of the morning this is the cake for you. The word cake is really a misnomer. This is a nutrient-rich block of spicy goodness drenched in a sugary, orange syrup.  Filled with yogurt, walnuts, whole grains, and orange juice one slice will keep your motor running well past lunchtime.

The recipe comes from the February, 2010 issue of Eating Well. I was inspired to make it when I had to be up and on the road by 5:30 a.m. driving my son, his coach, and his son to a freestyle ski competition two hours away. I like my breakfast and I like it when I’m hungry which meant eating on the road. If you can relate, make this cake and problem solved.

The taste and texture may be a little sophisticated for children but give it a try…you never know.  Please don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list or instructions. I don’t like complicated recipes. With the exception of needing a few bowls this one is straight-forward but impressive.

Dry Ingredients: 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, divided; 1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour; 1/2 cup barley flour (check the the natural food section); 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves; 1/2 teaspoon baking soda; 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg; 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Wet Ingredients: 2 large eggs at room temperature, 3/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar; 2/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt; 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest; 1/2 cup orange juice; 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

Syrup: 1/3 cup orange juice; 1/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar; 1 small strip orange zest (1×1 inch); 2 whole cloves  

To prepare the cake: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray and dust it with flour. 2. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast, stirring once halfway, until fragrant, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. 3.  Whisk the dry ingredients, except the walnuts, in a large bowl.spice cake bowls 4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until blended. 5. Combine yogurt with the orange zest and juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. 6. Gradually whisk the small bowl into the egg mixture (the medium bowl) along with the olive oil. (Okay, technically you’re mixing what’s inside the small bowl but work with me here. I’m trying not to overwhelm you with instructions.) 7.  Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in 2 additions, stirring well in between until just blended. Fold in 1 cup of the toasted walnuts. 8. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake about 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The Syrup: Combine all the syrup ingredients into a small heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thickened. Note: the recipe calls for a scant 1/3 cup–I think mine pushed 1/2 cup but worked fine. But definitely don’t go more than that.

spice cake orange sauce Last Step! When the cake is done, transfer the pan to a wire rack. Using a toothpick, pierce the top in a bout 25 places and brush the syrup over the cake 3 or 4 times, allowing it to seep in each time. (I found it took a lot more than this and toothpick holes are touch small so jiggle the toothpick around a bit to make the holes slightly bigger).

Optional: Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and let cool for 30 minutes. Cut into 12 squares. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Without the walnuts the top can be a bit sticky. We solved this situation by wrapping each piece in a bit of parchment paper. If you’re going to enjoy this at home brew a cup of coffee or one of the 4 twists to classic black and enjoy!