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 (Chai Spice Pound Cake)
What you need:
2 cups butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups brown sugar (see note, above)
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.