Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brown Sugar Glazed Cardamom Cake

I have a lot to say about this Brown Sugar Glazed Cardamom Cake including a marital victory, my love of cardamom, and a tip.  I'll start with the victory.

My husband's favorite dessert is his mother's yellow cake with caramel icing.  For years, I heard him go on and on about how good it was.  She seemed to only make it when I wasn't around but that didn't stop me from trying to replicate it several times.  Each effort tasted good to me but was never up to my mother-in-law's.  I even called her for the recipe once to find out it was simply a boxed cake mix and a simple caramel sauce.  I followed her vague directions and it was a flop.  It was at that point I gave up.

Fast forward to last year when I finally got to taste the infamous cake.  I love my mother-in-law and she is a great cook, but I didn't see, or taste, what all the fuss was about.  My two sister-in-laws were there as well and told me that they had tried to make the cake too but it was never right.  I'm not accusing my mother-in-law of leaving an ingredient out or purposely not relaying the recipe correctly, but something was missing.  Let's just say it was a mother's love.

So last weekend I made this Brown Sugar Glazed Cardamom Cake just because it sounded so warm and homey.   And warm and homey it was, like walking into a warm house on a cold day.  I knew my husband would like it but imagine my surprise when he said, completely unsolicited, that it was almost as good as his mom's yellow cake with caramel icing.  I had to pick my chin up off the flour.  The accolades continued as he ate many more slices over the next couple of days.  Victory!

And this cake was totally worthy of praise.  Spicy and warm from cinnamon and cardamom and moist with a texture unlike any cake I've had before.  I love cardamom.  One of my favorite spices.  The smell is slightly spicy with a hint of citrus.  It adds that something special to sweet and savory dishes.

A warm caramel sauce lightly drapes the cake and adds another level of sweetness.  The caramel sauce is fabulous with the cake, but the cake more than stands on its own.  We found the caramel sauce to be delicious poured over ice cream as well.  The entire cake was a revelation.

Here's that tip I promised.  I foolishly left the cake in the pan too long and then couldn't get it out. After shaking the pan, beating on the sides of it, saying a prayer and a few cuss words, I went to the internet and found suggestions ranging from throwing it out to slicing the cake out of the pan and covering it with frosting.  But as is often the case, a simple solution worked beautifully.  Placing the cake back in the oven for a couple of minutes warmed up the butter on the sides of the pan allowing it to release easily.  Definitely a good one to remember!
Brown Sugar Glazed Cardamom Cake
Sweet Home, Rebecca Miller Ffrench

Cardamom Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Glaze

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)

Make the cardamom cake:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a decorative 10-cup bundt pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugars on medium speed until thick and pale yellow in color, about 3 minutes.  Add the melted butter and beat on low for about 20 seconds.  Add the half-and-half and vanilla extract and beat for another 20 seconds on low, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well on low for 20 seconds, then increase to medium speed for another 20 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  If the top of the cake starts to become dark brown color after 40 minutes of baking, but the center is not yet set, cover the cake with foil while it finishes baking.

Let cool in the bundt pan for 15 minutes; then turn out onto a rack set over wax paper to cool for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the brown sugar glaze:  Place the brown sugar, half-and-half, and butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar as dissolved and the mixture just begins to boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Slowly drizzle the glaze over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.  Or in lieu of the glaze, place the confectioners' sugar in a sifter and sprinkle over the cake.
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  1. On word: Amazing! I love cardamon and this cake is both complex yet not overly fussy all at once! You are cracking me up about the infamous 'mystery cake' though--I think every family has one of 'those' recipes. Oh, and that is a great tip--knowing me, I would probably have cursed and ripped the thing to shreds, rather than kept cool and looked online for a solution...

  2. I am practicing this recipe for father's day and when we have taste test at home, kids loved it. Good thing you have shared this recipe.


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