A rich, flavorful syrup infuses this Mediterranean-inspired walnut coffee cake with the bright aroma of oranges and cloves. Heart-healthy olive oil and whole-grain barley flour add subtle complexity and texture to this nutty treat.

Instructions

  1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square glass baking dish with cooking spray and dust it with flour, shaking out the excess.
  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°.
  3. Whisk whole-wheat flour (see Measuring Tip), barley flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until thoroughly blended. Combine yogurt with orange zest and juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth; gradually whisk into the egg mixture along with oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in 2 additions, stirring well in between until just blended. Fold in 1 cup of the walnuts. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. To prepare syrup: Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup brown sugar, orange zest strip and cloves in a small heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring a few times. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes (you will have a scant 1/3 cup); remove the zest and cloves. Let cool.
  6. When the cake is done, transfer the pan to a wire rack. Using a toothpick, pierce the top in about 18 places and brush the syrup over the cake 3 or 4 times, allowing it to seep in each time. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and let cool for 30 minutes; loosen the edges with a knife; cut into 12 squares. Enjoy warm or room temperature.

 

Tips

Ingredient notes: Barley flour has a mild yet distinct flavor, which some describe as slightly sweet and malty. Barley is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or at natural-foods stores; it’s often available in bulk. Store in the freezer. White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available in large supermarkets and at natural-foods stores. (Or find it online from bobsredmill.com or kingarthurflour.com.) Store it in the freezer. Measuring tip: We use the “spoon and level” method to measure flours. Here’s how it is done: Use a spoon to lightly scoop flour from its container into a measuring cup. Use a knife or other straight edge to level the flour with the top of the measuring cup.
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