With heady, delicious spices like cardamom and vanilla, it’s not hard to see why this Cardamom Pound Cake is rich and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
When I was in high school, my mother told me that I had champagne tastes on a beer budget. Before judging using alcohol as an example with a child, remember, our family is European. Watching my parents having wine at dinner was as natural as breathing. Using references to alcohol to make a point, equally so.
Now that I’m an adult, I like to think that I’ve tempered my tastes. While I appreciate the quality of [some] more expensive purchases, I am quick to find the bargain and will revel when I can pay less than more.
The exception, it seems, is in the kitchen. Consider my two favorite spices, vanilla and cardamom. They’re two of the three most expensive spices out there and I am hands-down head-over-heels in love with their aromas and flavors.
For those who are curious, saffron is the most expensive, but I don’t get the appeal. To me, it tastes like grass; dry grass.
Cardamom, on the other hand; it’s flavor is a mystery. Take a moment to look it up and see what people say about it. Descriptions are all over the place, from citrus to cola-like to akin with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Personally, I’m just glad that I’ve finally learned how to spell and pronounce its name. Even now, my brain wants to replace that final ‘m’ with an ‘n,’ but my newly found culinary genius pushes past that and when I say the word, it’s with emphasis on the mom, because yes, I’m just too cool for school.
So, my friends, I bring you a cake that uses my two favorite spices, vanilla and cardamom.
You’re getting used to the drill now, right? Medium bowl for dry stuff, big bowl for wet stuff. In this recipe, there’s one more bowl added because the wet stuff is divided. Milk and crème fraîche are whisked together in a small one and the butter/sugar stuff is in the big guy.
The crème fraîche mixture is added to the whipped butter by alternating it with the stuff in the flour bowl until all is incorporated and a fragrant, beautifully pale batter is waiting to be poured into a loaf pan.
I did not add sliced almonds to the top of the cake because Dudette doesn’t like them at all.
Directions suggest baking the cake for 55-65 minutes. Mine was done at 58 minutes.
When Hubby got up this morning, I threatened him with his life as he headed into the kitchen for breakfast. He was not allowed to touch this pound cake because I hadn’t photographed it yet. So, I have no idea what he thinks of it yet.
Dudette was unimpressed, but I don’t know why. She’s loved cakes that were very similar. I’m guessing that being seven has a lot to do with it.
As for me, I love it. How can I not? I was a bit concerned when I saw almond extract on the list of ingredients because I find that it can overwhelm other flavors, but the quarter teaspoon didn’t. If anything, it served to highlight the vanilla (I used my Nielsen-Massey … swoon) and cardamom. The cake itself is tender and just about melts in the mouth, something I wouldn’t have expected using all-purpose flour. It’s fantastic.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ½ cup crème fraîche plus more for serving
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; line bottom and long sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving overhang. Butter parchment and dust pan with flour, tapping out any excess.
- Whisk baking powder, cardamom, salt, and 2 cups flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk milk and ½ cup crème fraîche in a small bowl; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat sugar and ¾ cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula, then add vanilla and almond extracts.
- Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with crème fraîche mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; beat just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
- Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–65 minutes. (Tent with foil if browning too quickly.)
- Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 15 minutes. Using parchment overhang, gently remove cake from pan and transfer to rack; let cool.
The magazine suggests serving the pound cake with crème fraîche and Tea-Poached Plums, which I didn’t make. As far as I’m concerned, serving a slice with a cup of coffee works just fine. The two are made to go together.