Writing a foodblog is a bit like exercising I find. The more often you do it, and hence the more of a habit it becomes, the easier it is to stick to it. So after a busy month or so at work it felt difficult to get back into the habit of writing in this space. To put words on paper. And sound excited. And yet excited is exactly how I am feeling. Because after numerous tests of this Sumac Drizzle Cake since last September (including testing it on some friends), the recipe is finally ready for sharing.
I love a good lemon drizzle cake. Especially the kind drenched in mouth-puckering tart lemon juice and topped with a sweet lemony glaze. But I also love a good substitution in the kitchen – lentils instead of meat to make kofte, tamarind water in guacamole when I am out of limes, miso instead of sea salt in desserts, and the list goes on and on.
So while this recipe is based on the classic lemon drizzle cake, rather than use lemons, the cake is instead flavoured with sumac, the tart red berry (sumac means red in Arabic) we associate with many Middle Eastern dishes. Sumac is typically used in savoury dishes to add acidity without adding more moisture. But once I found out that some people make a type of lemonade using sumac infused water, I figured sumac would lend itself well to other sweet applications. And it does. The only caveat to add here is to make sure the sumac you are using is pure sumac and not a mix of sumac and some salt. So if you bought a large bag of sumac and are not entirely sure how to finish that bag, here is a one additional recipe you can make with sumac.
What you end up with when making this recipe is a beautifully moist cake that stays fresh for days without drying out the slightest. In terms of flavour, you get this fruity acidity, not unlike tart apples, from the sumac, both from the sumac drizzle itself but also from the blush pink and mottled glaze that adorns the cake. A cake both beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. For a dinner party a few days ago, I wanted something a bit more interesting for dessert than simply a slice of cake (but also wanted to do a final test of this cake for friends). So I paired slices of the Sumac Drizzle Loaf with a simple sour cherry compote and some lightly sweetened whipped cream flavoured with mahleb (1 tsp mahleb per 250ml of whipping cream) – see the iPhone picture at the end of this post. That flavour combination got rave reviews, so I will definitely be making this again.
Sumac Drizzle Loaf
For the batter
200g butter, room temperature
250g plain flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp sugar
175g icing sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter a 25x10cm loaf tin and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (this should take no more than 5 minutes).
Beat in the eggs one by one, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next egg.
In a separate bowl whisk together the plain flour, baking powder and pinch of salt. Fold into the wet ingredients.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin, smoothing out the top.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is in the oven, bring the water to a boil. Take off the heat and add the sumac. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain (I use a coffee filter for this as it will also catch the tiniest pieces of sumac dust), setting aside 1 tsp of the strained sumac and 2 tbsp of the sumac-infused water for the glaze. Heat the remaining sumac-infused water together with the sugar just until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, poke it all over with a wooden skewer and pour the sumac drizzle over the cake.
Let the cake cool completely before carefully removing from the cake tin (this is easier if you first run a small flat knife around the inside edge of the cake tin).
While the cake is cooling whisk together the strained sumac you set aside, the sumac infused water and the icing sugar to make the glaze. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze on top of the cake. Wait for the glaze to set (5-10 minutes).