No, you read that right. I did mean Mishmesh.

It’s what the Arabic word for apricot sounds like. And the reason for this will become clear shortly.

It’s been a kitchen day, baking for the coffee shop. Many of my regular cakes and pastries were on the order, including the very, very popular sticky date cake with toffee sauce. Well, what’s not to like? But while I baked I was thinking of ways to make this perennial favourite a bit less, shall we say, hackneyed? And here’s my answer.

Mishmesh & syrup

A Brown Cake. Boooooring… Er, no.


200g/7oz dried apricots, chopped and steeped in 1 cup of boiling water with a 1/2 tsp bicarb soda.
40g/1.5oz softened butter
80g/3oz by weight of vegetable oil
1 cup soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
¾ cup cup almond meal
1 cup gluten free self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cardamom

Juice of 5 or 6 mandarins, equal to 1 cup/25oml/8.5floz of juice
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or you can crush pods and infuse them, retrieving them at the end)

Beat the softened butter, oil and brown sugar till pale and smooth. You can use all oil, but I happen to like the buttery flavour. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix the flour, almond meal and spices, and fold into the mixture. Add the steeped apricots, which will have swelled and softened, and fold these through as well. Pour into a greased and lined 28cm/11″ square cake tin, and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.

While the cake is baking, juice your mandarins, and measure out 1 cupful. Put this into a small pan together with the sugar and ground cardamom. (You can use oranges here if mandarins are not in season, but they’re not as fragrant so the flavour’s a little different). Heat, stirring often, over a moderate heat till the sugar has dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to thicken the syrup. Decant into a heatproof jug.

Once the cake is out of the oven and you have removed the pan and baking paper, put the cake into a dish at least as deep as the cake, and ideally fairly close fitting. Slowly pour the warm syrup over the warm cake, and all around the edges, stopping from time to time to let the cake absorb the syrup.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 5.24.20 pm

I used a big plate and a big fork to make you think this was a small slice. I confess… it wasn’t. Nor was the next one.

Wait as long as you can before tucking in. I managed to avoid burning my mouth… just. It’s a delicious combination of tender spiced cake crumb, sticky top, spicy tart apricots and gooey syrup with a hint of orange blossom. There’s a definite Middle Eastern flavour vibe – if I’d been feeling more adventurous I’d have added some sumac as well, but the poor Husband’s got to eat this too, and I’m not sure how he feels about sumac in cakes as opposed to a tagine, for example.

It doesn’t look exciting, it’s basically a brown cake with a sticky top, but my taste buds were doing a little fandango, and only writing this post is stopping me marching off to the kitchen for another slice. Maybe a bit of Greek yoghurt with it next time, or a dollop of labneh?

Hmm. I’ll need another slice to help me decide.

42 thoughts on “Mishmesh

  1. knettycraft says:

    It sounds very delicious. … and sure it tastes very delicious! !!!

  2. nanacathy2 says:

    Oh it does look appetizing, brown though it be

  3. EllaDee says:

    Not brown… but exactly the same color as paint I bought today to touch up a mirror frame… Gehenna’s Gold. And Mishmash looks delicious. I recently commented on another post that apricots are a retro taste (think apricot chicken, slice, cream cheese) I still have an affection for 🙂

  4. I’m sure it’s yummy, but many of your words were unknown to me. I can cope with 40 grams by weight, but all my cups are different sizes!
    What is labneh? If it’s thick cream, I’ll go along with that!

  5. katechiconi says:

    An Australian measuring cup holds 250ml by volume, so if you can find a teacup that holds the same amount, that’s your measure. A few grams here and there is neither here nor there! Obviously, a cup of sugar weighs less than a cup of syrup, for example, so I’ve got into the habit of using cup volume measures for the sheer ease and convenience of one-size-fits-all.
    Labneh is a thick fresh Lebanese cream cheese made from Greek-style yoghurt, and is eaten either with olive oil and herbs, or on toast with jam, or eaten like set yoghurt, with fresh fruit, etc. Sadly, I can’t eat it since discovering that lactose and I are no longer friends, but I can eat treated Greek yoghurt. The Husband proposes to try this cake with vanilla icecream…

  6. tialys says:

    You have to love a cake with a name like that.

    • katechiconi says:

      And I do… Between us we have already made serious inroads. It has now slurped up virtually all the syrup, with the result that it’s less cake and more sticky sponge pudding.

  7. Grannymar says:

    Sounds good to me, I am tempted once again. Kate, if my middle age spread developed a middle age apread it will be all your fault!

  8. I love anything cake-like with hot syrup poured over it. Even cold is also good. Sounds a bit like our Cape Malay Pudding recipe, too. Never goes out of fashion 🙂

  9. It is the taste that counts !

  10. Lorij says:

    Can this be made with regular flour?

    • katechiconi says:

      It sure can, but I’d substitute say a quarter cupful of the regular flour with cornstarch, which is finer and lighter and will help replicate the texture of gluten free flour.

  11. My kind of goodness – anything with spice and citrus! Can’t go wrong with that. This cake sounds just delicious!

  12. dezertsuz says:

    Looks delicious and sounds even better! Now I want cake.

  13. Conor Bofin says:

    This is obscene. There are far too many delicious flavours going on in there. It looks divine. Put it in a travel proof container and send it over.


    • katechiconi says:

      You are not alone in requesting home delivery. As I commented similarly on another occasion: Does it travel? Yes. Is it still edible after? No… Get out your juicer and your spices and get cracking. A man of your kitchen-ninja-type skills should find this recipe laughably easy. And you won’t be sorry.

  14. katechiconi says:

    Ponder the joys of delayed gratification….

  15. OHOH what eye candy in every sense of the way…this cake is totally exciting to me! Than again I love cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I am always on the look out for new recipes. I have Celiac Disease, just like you, so bonus that I do not need to convert the recipe. Thank you so much, xoxo Johanan

    • katechiconi says:

      This cake is very simple to make, with common ingredients. Please let me know if you’d like more gluten free recipes, as I love to bake and have dozens of them and all the recipes I post are gluten free.

  16. dayphoto says:

    Not only are you crafty with material, you are gifted in the kitchen!


  17. I’m guessing the apricots are drained before being folded in, just checking to be sure.

    Printing this recipe out has led me down quite a tasty rabbit hole. I wanted to find your recipe for sticky date cake with toffee sauce. I don’t see a search function here so I strolled through your recipes. I found “gluten-free” in the tags, so started there. In no time I was printing out several recipes for cake (not the one I sought) and then ended up reading posts with photos of roos and birds and all sorts of other lovelies. I haven’t gotten closer to the sticky date cake recipe but it’s been a fun stroll.

  18. cheergerm says:

    Oh yes, this looks scrumptious and going on my ‘to bake’ list. I wonder what lemony sumac would have added, mmm, interesting. I remember an Arabic saying about mishmesh trees blooming in the Sahara, but I can’t write it as I can’t spell the words.

    • katechiconi says:

      My current ‘can’t stop making it’ favourite is lemon polenta cake with a zingy lemon glaze. It gets stale quite quickly so you have to eat it within a couple of days. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…

  19. […] care! I’ve been busily looking up recipes for mandarin gelato, I’ll be making my mandarin syrup cake (minus the apricots) the Husband’ll be taking a couple of these to work in his lunchbox […]

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