Posts Tagged ‘Cardamom’

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A Plum Job

August 17, 2011

This year promises to be a good one for fruit trees. The English apple season has started earlier than ever before thanks to the freezing temperatures of winter which put the trees to sleep meaning that they awoke in the unuaully warm spring with vigour ensuring lots of blossom and good pollonation. I would imagine that this reasoning extends to all fruit teres and a friend’s plum trees were certainly laden and I came away from an afternoon visit with bags of fruit, sweet eating plums that vanished quickly and a sharper, darker variety that begged to be baked.

I always forget just how lovely plums can be, the hard, tasteless fruits found in supermarkets are nothing in comparrison to those picked ripe from a tree. My tiny garden enables me to play with pots of compost and seeds resulting in harvests of salad leaves, slug ravished radishes and of course the essential courgettes. But what I would love, more than anything, would be a fruit tree. A tasty variety of pear or even apple would be a thing of joy, the blossoms, the fruits, the weeks of pies and chutneys, baked goods and compotes.

But a plum tree would be just perfect.

Eager to get started with the bags of fruit I came home with I looked for something quick and easy, this Oat Slice recipe from Delia.

I added some ground cardamom (from about 8 pods) as it pairs well with plums and is one of my favourite spices, I reduced the cinnamon slightly to a level teaspoon rather than the suggested heaped one to make it a bit more balanced. This really took no time at all to bring together, the nutty oats contrasted beautifully with the sharpness of the plums and the earthiness of the spices. You could adapt this to use a wide variety of fruits and I bet the addition of some chopped nuts in the oat layer would be divine.

There were still plenty left and a weekend poker evening meant hungry guests to share with. I didn’t want the stress of pastry and a pie, and a crumble, whilst one of my favorite puddings wasn’t right either. Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume II provided the recipe for a pudding like cake. There was homemade ice cream brought by one of my guests and  I popped some of the remaining plums in a pan with the juice of an orange, a table spoon of sugar, a cinnamon stick and some crushed cardamom pods and reduced them to make a sharp yet deep and spicy compote to cut through the richness of the cake. I upped the spices from the original recipe by once again adding cardamom and also half a teaspoon of ginger and  teaspoon of vanilla. I also used butternilk rather than milk.

Honey, Spice and Plum Cake

(slighty adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in Tender Volume II)

250g plain flour

Tsp baking powder

Tsp bicarb

Tsp cinamon

1/2 Tsp ground ginger

Ground cardamom from about 10 pods

Tsp vanilla extract

200g golden syrup

2 tbsp honey (NS specifies ‘thick’ but I used standard runny honey which was all I had to hand)

125g butter

125g light muscavado sugar

250g plums, halved (or quatered if large) with stones removed

2 large eggs

240ml buttermilk (or milk)

Preheat your oven to 180C, grease and line a 24cm square tin

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and spices

Gently heat the golden syrup, honey and butter until the butter is melted then add the sugar

Whisk together the eggs buttermilk and vanilla extract

Stir the syrup mixture into the flour mixture using a metal spoon then the egg and milk mixture, stirring until no traces of flour remain

Pour the mixture into the tin then drop in the plums (vague)

Bake for 25 minutes then cover loosly with foil and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Switch off the oven but leave for a further 15 minutes then remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.

I can’t help but wonder how Nigel comes up with these recipes – is it based on one tried and tested perhaps handed down or has he (or a minion) experimented with different baking times and options? I’ve not come accross a recipe before that states you should leave a cake in a cooling oven as part of the baking process.

I’m not sure whether a little longer was needed in the oven – you can see the dense moist crumb, and that the plums have sunk to the bottom, but it didn’t taste under done in any way. Not that there was any way to test this theory but I suspect well wrapped it would keep well being so moist. This one disappeared swiftly.

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Spice Cakes

May 26, 2010


I’ve made two different spice cakes recently. The first was the Black Pepper Spice cake (see recipe below) from my favourite Cake Keeper Cakes. I’ve made this before and knew the intended recipient was a fan of black pepper so made it again. I often feel like it’s a bit of a cop-out using a recipe I’ve tried before when baking; there are so many recipes out there to try, why resort to something you’ve made before? But I have to say the cakes in this book are so delicious and the recipes so reliable that I go back to it frequently, especially when baking for a special occasion. I upped the pepper quota a little to ensure it’s presence was felt and also left in the walnuts which I’ve omitted previously and they provided a lovely bite to the soft crumb of the cake. This time I also added the glaze which I left off previously (out of laziness I suspect) and I’m glad I did. It really added another dimension, the zingy citrus offsetting the warmth of the spices. I resolve to pay more attention to suggested glazes in recipes from now on rather than viewing them with suspicion as just another way to add sugar.

I also made this Spiced Brown Sugar Carrot Loaf but wasn’t as enamored. I think I expected something moister having baked so much with courgettes recently, and bolder on the spice front. Having said that I tried it fairly soon after baking and it may be one that develops over time like so many. If I were to make it again I would definately play around, perhaps using half courgettes, half carrots and I would increase the spices, which to be fair the author does recommend – it’s also suggested you eat spread with butter which may get around the moistness issue, and be extra delicious I’m sure! I followed the recipe apart from using half wholemeal flour half plain, and reduced the sugars slightly (light brown from 262g to 225g and the caster from 112g to 75g). I also had to employ the use of my rolling pin to give the base of the tins a pretty good whack to help get the finished loaves out, I did grease and flour the tins, but if you might want to line them too if you give the recipe a go!

Black Pepper and Spice Cake
Cake Keeper Cakes

330ml Buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
300g flour
90g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 Tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinamon
1 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp black pepper
112g butter
225g sugar

I cup icing sugar
Juice of a lemon

Preheat oven to 180C, grease and flour a bundt tin.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer on high speed for at least 3 mins until light and fluffy, meanwhile whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a large measuring jug and combine the dry ingredients, including nuts, in a large bowl.

With the mixer on low add a third of the four mixture beating until just incorporated followed by half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides as needed, repeat – ending with the last of the flour mixture. Turn the mixture up to medium high and beat for one minute.

Scrape into the prepared pan, bake for 40 -45 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 mins before turning out onto a rack to allow to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a smooth mixture – it should be fairly thick to drizzle over the cake and allowed to run down the sides. Allow to set for about half an hour before serving.


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Crack Open the Cardamom

January 31, 2010


I bookmarked this recipe for a Cardamom Citrus Cake on Good Life Eats before the new year, I’ve used cardamom a few times recently in various cakes and am quite taken with it. I’m always on the lookout for Bundt recipes and I had yet to use the new rose tin my sister gave me as a Christmas gift.


I also came across a Nordicware Sunflower tin in a sale whilst on a trip to the Cotswolds and seeing as the pestle and mortar were going to be in use to grind the cardamom I wanted to make the most of it and so chose the Black Pepper and Spice Cake from Cake Keeper Cakes to christen this one. My post Christmas baking lull was broken by an early Sunday morning and I set about greasing the tins. This is not easy with the patterned Bundt tins – particularly the Rose. I learned for later use to melt a small about of butter and brush over the tin to ensure you get into all the ridges and don’t end up with globs of butter stuck to the outside of the finished cake.

Opinions from the recipients on the cakes were divided – but only in so far as which was their favourite. I think the Cardamom was mine, but the shape of the tin made the filling layer difficult to distribute easily and it ended up being too thick in places, a more regular shaped tin would’ve been better for this particular cake. I may also up the zest a little, the oranges I’ve been using recently haven’t had that much a zing. As I’ve been doing with most cakes recently I’ve reduced the sugar, I’ve put the original amounts in brackets, but I really don’t think it needs it. I’ve put in metric weights for the dry ingredients but find it easier to continue to use cups when measuring wet ingredients.

Citrus Cardamom Bundt Cake
Adapted from Good Life Eats

450g flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking sodaBulleted List

3/4 teaspoon salt

175g (225g) granulated sugar

90g (112g) brown sugar

zest of 1/2 large orange

150g butter, softened

1/2 a vanilla bean split open and seeded or 1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup buttermilk (original recipe called for sour cream)

Filling

zest of 1/2 large orange

100 (112g) cup brown sugar – I used a mixture of light and dark brown as this was all I had

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 180C, grease and flour your tin.

Place the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl and rub the zest through the sugar and spice mix so that the oils from the zest release.

Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom in a bowl and set aside.

Beat Sugars and butter till fluffy – about 4 minutes in a stand mixer then add the vanilla and eggs. Continue beating for two minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

With the mixer on slow add a third of the flour, followed by half the buttermilk, then repeat, ending with the last of the flour.

Spread half the batter into your prepared pan, sprinkle with the filing mixture and then cover with the remaining batter.

Bake for 50 – 60 minute, cook for 20 minutes in the tin on a cooling rack before turning out to cool completely.

Black Pepper and Spice Cake

Cake Keeper Cakes p106

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

3 Large eggs – room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground black pepper (I would use more next time)

112g unsalted, room temp or softened butter

225g sugar

(The original recipe also has 1 cup of toasted walnuts, cooled and chopped which I omitted. There’s also a lemon glaze – 1 cup icing sugar and 2 tbsp lemon juice, combined and drizzled over the cooled cake which I didn’t bother with so I added the zest of a lemon to the creamed butter and sugar)

Preheat oven to 180C, grease tin and dust with flour.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a large jug.

Combine flour, nuts if using, baking powder, bicarb, salt and spices.

Cream butter and sugar for about 3mins on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides a few times.

On low speed add 1/3 of the flour, half the buttermilk mixture and repeat, ending with flour, scrape the sides of the bowl between additions and mix for 1 minute after the last addition.

Add to prepared pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

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A Win and a Fail

November 10, 2009

Another gathering for a night of ladyboy poker provided another baking opportunity. In a search for inspiration a brief email poll of participants returned the single word ‘chocolate’.
I had recently bookmarked a recipe for Chocolate, Coffee and Cardamon Cake with a view to a dinner party/poker dessert (rather than a bake and take to work kind of cake). I had fresh pods in the cupboard from the gingerbread earlier in the week and the pictures on Spice and More’s blog screamed dense richness, just what you need with a good bottle of red to induce a lucky hand. I followed the recipe on the site, using the reduced amount of sugar suggested, with 70% chocolate (I had Green and Blacks in the cupboard). I have a Gaggia coffee machine (possibly my most prized possession) so brewed a double espresso then strained the crushed cardamon pods and seeds which I’d simmered in water into the coffee before adding all the liquid at the point stated. The type of tin wasn’t specified but you’ll need a deep springform for this one. I didn’t bother with a ganache (and this wasn’t because of previous disasters, I believe I now have a foolproof recipe) I just didn’t think it looked like it needed it, the top of the cake looked so moist and was slightly cracked and I worried about masking the cardamon with more chocolate. When it came to serving, additional chocolate definitely wasn’t needed, it was so tasty on it’s own.

Along with the cake I also offered to cook the main. I have the Leon book and love it so much that I gave it to several people as Christmas presents last year, my sister is currently spreading the Leon love by giving copies as gifts. I needed a one pot veggie dish and the Egyptian Tamarind stew looked appealing, filled as it is with roasted aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas (or fava beans if you can find them). I Googled it for additional hints and tips and discovered that it had been part of the Guardian’s cookalong series with the added bonus of a pilaf recipe to accompany it. You can get the transcript and recipes here. I used agave nectar rather than honey, partly to just use it and partly because I’m not a fan of honey and wasn’t sure how strong the taste of it would be. I think the agave worked, I added a little more tamarind than suggested and I think that I would split the chillies to get a little bit more of a kick. The smell of the pilaf was amazing as the heat hit the spices and everyone enjoyed it.

So, two wins on the food front were joined by two poker wins – yes I won both games! Unheard of. Only that day I’d been moaning that I was feeling a little despondent as I rarely won a hand never mind games or cold hard cash and was pretty much only going along for the company and baking opportunity. But win I did, and it felt good.
There was a baking fail though, perhaps fail is too strong a word as colleagues at work seemed to enjoy it, but I can’t say I was taken with the Cardamon Vanilla Bundt featured on the Food Librarian’s ‘I Like Big Bundts’ series (in the lead up to National Bundt day on November 15th). It was heavier than I expected and whilst it smelt divine whilst baking, the end result didn’t have enough vanilla or cardamom for me. Do check out the series though, there are some fantastic looking cakes on there.
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Gingerbread for an Autumnal Afternoon

November 2, 2009
I have just spent a lovely weekend with my brother, his family and their amazing new kitchen. I am still suffering from severe kitchen envy, the whole space was a thing of beauty, from the fridge that I’m sure I could fit inside to the cutlery drawer that would placate the most obsessive compulsive urges. Luckily he has yet to purchase a Kitchen Aid mixer or I may not have coped at all. After a long walk in the beech woods around Box he prepared a the most divine beef bourguignon and I, with help from my niece, nephew (and a perfect G&T or several) made the Apple and Date Cake from a few months ago this time with a handful of chopped pecans – a good addition should you wish to add a little crunch.

Anyway, an early shift at work today meant a few hours free this afternoon and I need to spread a little love and reconnect with my small, yet (almost) perfectly formed kitchen. I know Parkin is the order of the week, it being Bonfire Night on Thursday, but once again a tub of buttermilk dictated the recipe somewhat and I had bookmarked this Gingerbread recipe from Shauna at Bay Area Bites. I don’t remember how or when I came across it, but the range of spices she uses appeals and led to it being put to one side for autumn and here we are. As I type it’s cooling in the pan, I followed the recipe below with a few very minor changes which are in italics. Other than the grinding of the cardamon seeds (anyone know where to get ground cardamon? I can’t seem to find it anywhere) this came together in no time and was baked in 40 minutes.


SHUNA’S FAMOUS GINGERBREAD


18 ounces All Purpose Flour (I used half wholemeal)
6 ounces Sugar (
golden granulated but I wonder what a soft brown would be like)
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
3 Tablespoons + Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Ground Cardamon (
I only had pods of which I ground a generous teaspoons worth of the seeds as I wasn’t sure if the ground seeds would be stronger than the pre-ground stuff)
1 teaspoon + Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon *optional: Ground Coriander* (
I didn’t use)

8 ounces Unsalted Butter
3 1/2 ounces Blackstrap Molasses
6 ounces Simple Syrup **recipe in instructions** you may substitute Lyle’s golden syrup or light corn syrup (
I used golden syrup)

3 each Large Egg Yolks
2 each Large Eggs
8 ounces buttermilk you may substitute sour cream or use a mixture of them both to create the eight ounces


**To make simple syrup place equal parts sugar and cold water in saucepan and bring to a boil until mixture is clear. For a thicker syrup boil for at least 10 minutes or increase the amount of sugar. For this recipe 1/2 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water will be sufficient.**


1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
2. Butter desired baking vessels. {Sometimes I coat with raw or white sugar inside as you would flour for a cake.}
3. Sift all dry ingredients except salt and pepper into a large bowl
4. Whisk in salt and pepper until mixture is uniform and create a “well” in center
5. In a medium non-reactive saucepan bring butter, molasses and simple syrup to a boil slowly {this mixture is feisty and will boil over if the heat is on too high or your saucepan is crowding it}
6. In another bowl whisk together egg yolks, eggs and dairy
7. When mixture on stove comes to a boil, shut off heat and let rest for a moment
8. Pour this hot mixture all at once into the center of your bowl of dry ingredients
9. Using a whisk, mix dry ingredients into liquid, from center out, carefully
10. When batter begins to seize, pour in second bowl of wet ingredients
11. Whisk batter until smooth and uniform. Batter is loose
12. Pour batter a little over halfway into buttered baking tins
13. I set my first timer for about 15 minutes, {unless you are making muffin-size or smaller}, so that I can turn the pan around for a more even bake (
I used a Bundt tin and it was done at 40 mins)
14. Gingerbread is done when sides pull away from the pan, middle bounces back to the touch and/or a cake-tester inserted in the center comes out clean
15. Cool at least until warm before slicing.