Easter

Hi there. I know we’ve been “baking happy” this week but I thought I’d add to the bounty and post the cardamom-vanilla pound cake recipe I made for Easter that many of you have asked about. It’s been on my mind as my mom called yesterday and asked for the recipe. It’s here, courtesy of the late Gourmet magazine (sniff. sob. wail. moan), below the fold.

A few things to keep in mind to really make this a remarkable cake.

1.  Use whole cardamom seeds–Whole, fresh cardamom seeds–ground yourself–make a world of difference. Actually, any time you grind your own spices, you do a great service to your food. So, go out, buy an inexpensive coffee bean grinder–they are cheap, like many of my predilections– and regulate it specifically for spice grindings.

2. Use good vanilla beans–It’s such prosaic, nondescript advice (makes me sound like I belong on the Food Network) but seek out a high-quality vanilla bean. Look, the two main flavors in this cake are cardamom and vanilla. So, you want the best. Whole Foods carries a variety of vanilla beans but here’s my favorite brand, available at Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.

3. Don’t over-mix! You will really screw with the integrity of this cake–nay, any baked good–by over-mixing. Beat the dry into the wet ingredients just enough to incorporate. If you see streaks of flour at the end of this cycle, that’s O.K. It just means you will have a moister cake. This is good.

Luke? Baking Sun God Blog Partner? Any additional tips you want to impart? I know you have your opinions. So many of them…

Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake
Gourmet Magazine

This pound cake not only keeps well but also intensifies in flavor over the first day or so. It’s delicious toasted or served with ice cream.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings
Active Time: 25 min
Total Time: 3 1/4 hr

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Equipment: a 12-cup kugelhopf or bundt pan; a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar in mixer at medium speed, scraping side of bowl occasionally, until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in lemon juice until combined well. At low speed, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top. Gently rap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.

Beat cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla extract using whisk attachment of mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Serve cake with whipped vanilla cream.

 

Cooks’ notes:
If you have green cardamom pods, you can grind the seeds using a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee/spice grinder. The cake keeps in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.