Sometimes one new ingredient can totally re-invent a classic recipe, such as what I have for you today! Adding halvah to this classic walnut loaf rockets it off to another level. Nut loaves are pretty common and sometimes a bit humdrum, but when I saw this recipe in Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, I just had to break out the baking tools and get to work! Everything about it called to me – warm cinnamon, crunchy sweet brown sugar, earthy walnuts, and the deal-breaker – rich accents of creamy halvah. I had never thought of baking with halvah, but this recipe has given me some tasty ideas! Halvah is not just a sweet sesame candy, but can be included in all sorts of recipes, adding a gorgeous layer of sesame undertones. I can’t wait to make halvah ice-cream this summer! Ottolenghi’s original recipe called for vanilla halvah, but I used a vanilla- chocolate halvah in this recipe, and it was wonderful.
Walnut and Halvah Loaf
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 ounces halvah, broken into 1 ¼ inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
To make the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat. Allow it to sizzle for about 3 minutes, until it becomes lightly brown and smells slightly nutty. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, mix the butter, nuts, and cinnamon together. Divide the mixture into 2 portions. Stir the brown sugar into one of the portions.
For cake batter, in a stand mixture, cream the butter and superfine sugar together until the mixture becomes light in colour and is fluffy in texture. Add the eggs a little at a time until they are incorporated.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Add this to the batter, alternating with the sour cream. Be sure not to over-mix.
Spread half the batter in the loaf pan and scatter the sugar-less nuts evenly over the batter. Dot the halvah pieces on top. Spread the remaining batter on top. Top with the sugared nuts.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave in the pan for 20 minutes to cool. Then remove to a cooling rack by lifting the cake out in the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool on the rack completely before cutting.