Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cardamom Takes the Cake

My husband is the baker in the family. Weekends will find him elbow-deep in dough, making six loaves of his dreamy sourdough bread every other week or whirring the processor, mixing light-as-air scones or biscuits. My bailiwick has traditionally been fruit crisps, cobblers or pies, but lately I've been drawn to cakes, excavating my old cake pans from under the pie plates, glass juicers and strainers stacked on top of them.

This spate of activity started at Christmas, when I was looking for an appropriately festive dessert to take to my brother's for dinner. Going through my recipe box—remember those?—I came across my mother's Italian cream cake recipe that she'd inscribed on a blue-lined, three-inch by five-inch filing card, the pre-internet "app" we used for preserving our favorite recipes.

Awhile later my sister-in-law made a beautifully simple cardamom cake for a family birthday, its top browned and sprinkled with slivered almonds. When I begged for the recipe, I found out it had actually been baked upside-down in the cake pan, then inverted to reveal the browned, crisp crust. Brilliant!

When Valentines Day came around shortly thereafter, I was able to pull out my cake pans and express my feelings for my family with this appropriately lovely dessert. I think they got the message!

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

For the topping:
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. sliced almonds, preferably unblanched

For the cake:
3/4 c. shelled, unsalted pistachios
1/4 c. plus 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cardamom seeds
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°.

To make the topping, melt the butter. Pour it into a 9-inch round cake pan and let cool briefly. Sprinkle the teaspoon of sugar evenly over the melted butter, then add the almonds, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute them evenly. Set the pan aside.

To make the cake, in a blender or a food processor pulverize the pistachios with the 1/4 cup flour until as finely ground as possible. Transfer to a small bowl.

Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle (or grind them in a spice grinder). Add the crushed seeds to the pistachio mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir it into the butter-egg mixture. Stir in the pistachio mixture just until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan by dropping 4 or 5 mounds on top of the almonds. Carefully spread the batter into an even layer, trying not to disturb the almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 30-40 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes). Let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool completely.


Merrypetal said...

I'm a long time admirer and appreciative reader of your website. Today is the day I write to say thank you for the many fabulous recipes and wonderful posts you have written.
This recipe is amazing and I am eager to try it (though hope it is as good as I'll sub with almond flour and monk fruit sweetener as I'm keto).
Thank you!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Oh gosh, thank you, Merrypetal! And I'm glad you find Good Stuff NW helpful. Best wishes!