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Sweet Cardamom

I'll admit it right here: I've been sniffing a spice jar.

Cardamom might be my favorite spice, along cumin and turmeric. Not the most versatile, though, but taking a whiff of cardamom and tasting it in a dish offer you many reasons to try to add it in all the recipes that command cinnamon.

Cinnamon on apples? Familiar, comforting and homey. Cardamom on apples? All this plus the wow factor. I've learned lately that cardamom has an important place in Scandinavian cooking. Cooks liberally use it in breads, cookies, cakes. In fact, cardamom is more popular than cinnamon is in Scandinavian countries.

I'm not surprised: cardamom is intensely aromatic but not overpowering, it is spicy but not hot. Tearing a pouch of ground cardamom awakens your sense of smell: it has a very distinctive powdery, spicy aroma recalling citrus. Grating a pod also liberates its distinctive smell and will have the tips of your finger smelling heavenly. I also read somewhere that cardamom is one of the most expensive spice there is, right along saffron.

(1,49$ should buy you a 4oz (100g) pouch. Cods are more expensive, but if you use it sparingly, it will keep its freshness longer.)

Indian cuisine leaves a big place to this spice - the heady smell of chai tea owns its aroma in part to it. There is some in my garam masala jar, another important blend of spice commonly used in Indian dishes.

There are many usages to this sweet spice - chicken, fish, rice, couscous, and of course baking.  This Orange Cardamom Bundt Cake will have you sighing with satisfaction for two days. Cardamom and orange are two ingredients that blend tastingly together.

All notes in italics are mine.

Orange Cardamom Cake (adaptated from Cooking Light, December 2007)
16 servings --- yeah right - that is, if you're reasonable. I made this a couple of times for a group of six, and I was left with a few crumbles.

Cake:

3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons cardamom (the original recipe calls for 1 3/4 teaspoons, but I like for it to taste more intently)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamom (again, the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (when oranges are cheap, I buy a big bag and press them myself, but any non concentrated juice will taste great)
2/3 cup canola oil (I have been known to reduce this quantity to 1/2 cup, and to add 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt. The cake will be a bit more dense, almost the texture of dessert bread.)
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Glaze:

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (1/4 cup more than in the original recipe, but I feel the texture sticks better to the cake)
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

How to:

Preheat oven to 350F (or 180C).

Coat a 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with 1 tablespoon flour, and set aside. (Cooking spray is expensive, so I personally use a clean cloth on which I dab canola oil.)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Whisk together 3 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry mix.

In another bowl, whisk orange juice, canola oil (and plain yogurt if using it), orange rind, lemon rind, vanilla, and eggs. Add the liquid mix to the dry mix, and beat with a mixer at low speed for 1 minute, or until the mix is well combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Smooth the batter in the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack, and remove for pan. Cool for 30-45 minutes, before transferring to a plate and drizzling slowly the glaze over it.

For the glaze:

Whisk the powdered sugar, the orange juice, and the lemon juice in a small bowl.

Notes:

It's so tasty. I serve the leftovers - when any - with low fat yogourt.
The glaze will melt on the cake and be absorbed by it. It gives it a a nice texture.
You can wrap it with aluminum foil, and it will keep well on the kitchen counter.




Comments

( 4 cook — Leave a comment )
malvernrob
Mar. 14th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...Cardamom....interesting. Strokes stubble on chin while deep in thought. I will keep an eye out for it. I wonder if I have any of it at home.
rougered
Mar. 15th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
Cardamom really brings out the taste of fruits. I just put some in homemade rice pudding. Yum yum.
willow_wand
Mar. 14th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
This sounds like an excellent Christmas recipe. I'll have to look for cardamom next time I'm in the International market. :)
rougered
Mar. 15th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
It could be - but beware... it has become a friend and family favorite, so be ready to be requested to bake it often. :)
( 4 cook — Leave a comment )

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