Pecan-Cardamom Pound Cake (or Chai Spiced Pound Cake)

by Maris Callahan on April 27, 2010

Pecan-Cardamom Pound Cake

In the beginning of 2009 I made a New Year’s food resolution to bake something with cardamom. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what it was when I made that resolution over a year ago – I knew it belonged on the spice rack and I just liked the word cardamom.

Cardamom refers to two varieties of an herb used in exotic cooking, often Indian or Finnish-inspired dishes.  Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, an intense, aromatic fragrance. There are two types of cardamom, black and green. Black cardamom, which is more common, has a distinctly more astringent aroma, though not bitter.

To me, cardamom is the coffee stand in the campus center where I went to college. My sophomore year dorm was a hop, skip and a jump away and sometimes I’d dash over for coffee and a bagel before my morning class (which I strategically always chose to start at 10am). Except, I didn’t drink coffee so my beverage of choice was always a chai latte.

I’ve been wanting to make a recipe that uses cardamom for almost as long as I’ve been wanting to make a pound cake — but I’ve consistently discouraged myself from making pound cake because trust me, no one who lives alone should ever have an entire pound cake in their kitchen at any given time. I’M JUST SAYING.

This recipes is from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. It yields a full-sized bundt cake or two loaf cakes. However, since I have neither a large bundt pan or a second loaf pan, I decided to employ a miniature bundt cake pan to bake what didn’t fit in their first loaf pan. The recipe produced one large loaf cake and six miniature bundts.

Pecan-Cardamom Pound Cake

Pecan-Cardamom Pound Cake (Chai Spice Pound Cake)

What you need:

2 cups butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups brown sugar (see note, above)
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups white flour
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup strong coffee, cooled (I made strong instant coffee with lukewarm water)
½ cup milk
2 to 3 cups pecans, toasted

For a coffee glaze (optional)

1/3 cup coffee
2 cups powdered sugar

What you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bundt pan and dust with flour. (This step

2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and blended.

3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and baking powder. Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

4. Add the coffee and beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining flour mixture and then beat in the rest of the liquid. Stir in the pecans by hand.

5. Pour the batter into the greased and floured pan(s), and bake, checking after an hour (less if you’re using multiple, smaller pans like me). If a knife or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it’s done. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Cool on a wire rack.

6. For the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Drizzle in enough coffee, while whisking, to make a glaze the consistency of heavy cream. (If you make the glaze too thick, it’ll chip and crack when you cut the cake.) When the cake cools, set it, still on the rack, over a plate. Pour the glaze over the cake and let it set up for a few minutes. Switch the cake and rack to a second plate, and pour the glaze from the first plate over the cake again. Repeat this a few times until it is glazed to your liking. After the final glaze, when the glaze is still wet, stick pecans on the top for decoration.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophie April 27, 2010 at 5:36 am

Waw!! These little Bundt cakes just look PERFECT to me!!
Very appetizing pictures too!


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) April 27, 2010 at 7:49 am

I know just what you mean about the danger of baking whole cakes, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a mini Bundt pan. This could be it!


Daryl April 27, 2010 at 8:34 am

The baby bundts are adorable! What did you do with all that cake?


Joanne April 27, 2010 at 8:35 am

Cardamom is by far one of my favorite flavors to bake with. It’s a really nice alternative to cinnamon!
These cakes look delicious, although seeing as how I live alone as well, I would have to go with the mini versions!


kat April 27, 2010 at 10:16 am

I find I use cardamon so much lately in Indian food & Scandinavian baking. Its good with rhubarb!


mandy April 27, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I’ve never used cardamom but I agree, it is a very fun name. After seeing your pictures I sort of want to go out and buy little mini-bundts pans.
I can’t wait to make this recipe.


affiliate program April 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Wow! It really makes my tummy hungry.. I can’t wait to try this.. Thanks for sharing


Sarah @ Queen Mommy April 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Oh, Ms. Maris. I’m almost angry you stopped by my blog. I’m going to be so fat now! lol These look incredible. I just really started using cardamom in some of my baked goods two years ago. I really love it’s flavor!


Kelly April 27, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I love, love love cardamom. I’ve been using the spice so much more in the past year and I love the flavor it provides.


Bethany April 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Cardamom is a very fun spice! It always smells like home to me, because us Swedes use it a lot, especially in cinnamon buns or quickbreads. Those mini bundts are too cute!


Marianne April 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm

This sounds yummy – I’d love to try this recipe! My mom always uses cardamom in buns and I love the flavor it adds.


Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin April 28, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Wow these look delicious!! I didn’t know what cardamom was, either! :)


Maria April 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I don’t use cardamom enough. I love the little cakes!


Lynn @ The Actors Diet April 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm

i love the word cardamom too :)


Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly April 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Wow that looks wonderful!! Might be what I make for my Mother’s Day BBQ! Thanks!!


Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) April 28, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I love anything chai! Really aren’t cakes cuter when they are little bundts? I have always shied away from cardamom since it is so expensive, but I found some the other day that was reasonably priced. Sad thing is, I didn’t buy it because I did not want to become addicted to it. I think I need to go back now! Your cakes look beautiful!


Nicole April 28, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I’ve only had cardamom a few times that I can recall but loved the little something it gave to the dishes.


Joy April 29, 2010 at 2:29 am

I’ve been resisting getting baby bundt cake pans, but now you have me thinking again with these pound cakes!
Same here, I love the word cardamom. It’s a very…amiable word, a gentle tongue exercise each time you say it. LOL. That said, I need to use the spice more often!


Dana April 29, 2010 at 11:24 am

I love those little pans! I love cardamom but a lot of people don’t – it’s a pretty strong spice. Randy doesn’t drink coffee so his drink is always a chai. He would love these!


Robyn May 1, 2010 at 1:47 am

Hmmm… that looks so good Maris!


Spice Rack May 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

Interesting baking you got here. Might be worth a try. Thanks.


grace May 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

what a lovely texture! i personally take a little trip to cloud nine whenever i get a whiff of chai, so i’m sure i’d love this cake. :)


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