Every year, you call on us to celebrate your blog with a Mad Tea Party of our own. I tried my best to celebrate in the month of August and in the month of September but I just could not make it happen. Until last night. It all came together. And how!
All crazy parts of me came together to party late at night with tea. You might think that we're a sombre lot especially since Fedora Me does not look very happy but, really, it's in keeping with the gangsta look.
I had Orange Pekoe black tea with homegrown lemongrass. I had Oolong green tea from Viet Nam. I had Tulsi Ginger tea from Fab India. I pretended to have Darjeeling tea from India.
For munchies, I served Trader Joe's triple ginger cookies. I must learn how to make them myself as I cannot wait another year for Trader Joe's to open in Boulder. It's far too expensive to keep flying them in from California.
I also served my crabapple-peach chutney on crackers. No-one was in the mood for some cheese. It saved some clear-up at past midnight, and for that I was very grateful.
The apples—one of which you see me holding—are crisp, delicious, organic fruit from my neighbor's tree.
The show stealer, albeit slightly hidden in the picture above, was a cardamom cake. You might have heard me rave about it. You might even have heard me rant a little. It isn't Indian, even though it has cardamom and the recipe is from a cookbook called My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Ichaporia King.
I know I always throw confusing things out there, like, dal is not soup but then I go on to feature a recipe that is a soup that has dal. Or how Indians are not East Indian but East Indians are Indian.
Cardamom is a spice that is used sparingly in Indian cuisine but has come to represent all things Indian. Mmmmm! Indian! Mmmmm! Cardamom! There are recipes for dals that, for no rhyme or reason, have a teaspoon of powdered cardamom added to it. To make it Indian. I watched a video of a western chef who used an entire year's supply to spice kababs. To make it Indian.
Please make them stop!
This Cardamom Cake, however, is Swedish in origin. So everyone should feel free to use the amount of cardamom that is recommended in the recipe.
I have wanted to make this cake for the past several years but the fact that it has no baking powder or baking soda held me back. I am not much of a baker and I stick to tried and tested cookies and cakes. The altitude sometimes plays a number on me as does the humidity, or rather lack of it. I didn't want to be looking at a dense cake that no-one would touch.
When Shalini posted the recipe recently and egged me on, I finally mustered the courage to try my hand at it. I made it once, twice and haven't stopped since.
Before I share the recipe, I want to tell you that I'm sorry I didn't read the abridged version of Alice in Wonderland as recommended by you. I was kind of busy. You see, I canned about 30lbs of organic tomatoes, three ways: raw pack with hot water, raw pack without any added liquid, and hot pack. Because I'm lazy, I skip the blanch and peel step. The test run I did last year proved that not peeling the tomatoes made no difference to the sauces I use them in. I also made canned salsa from 5lbs of tomatoes using 25 jalapenos from the little bush in my backyard. I was mighty thrilled that I did not have to travel more than a mile to buy my organic tomatoes from the Louisville Farmers Market. We've talked before about how conflicted I am when it comes to carbon footprint of my food, whether local or organic, and how much I personally contribute to it.
As you know, I now have a high-schooler. High school is very different from middle school and elementary school. Since I did not go to school in the US, it is a huge learning experience for me. I am grateful to my local parent support group for holding my hand through this transition. My high-schooler, on the other hand, seems to have jumped in and is coping rather well.
I am also learning the ropes of being a Band Mom. As you know, I don't do well with labels nor do I like to be cocooned into some sort of a stereotype. I help wherever and whenever I can. I also attend all their performances and take pictures as well as video for the band. Sitting on cold bleachers at football games, performances and competitions isn't doing wonders for my back.
I have also been doing senior shoots as gifts for my friends' 12th graders. I keep it low-key and simple, and they have been very happy with the results. If all these fabulous excuses haven't convinced you why this post is a day later than the generous extension of your deadline for Mad Tea Partying, I'll gladly fill your ears with more! Let's talk specifics of the cardamom cake, first.
- 1-2 tbsp sugar, for the pan
- Sliced unblanched almonds, for the topping (optional)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (less 2tbsp at 5320ft)
- 1 1/3 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp cardamom seeds
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare a 9-inch diameter springform pan or bundt pan by buttering it liberally, sprinkling 1-2 tablespoons sugar, and shaking the pan until the bottom and sides are coated with sugar.
- Cover the bottom with sliced almonds, if using, for a nice crunchy topping.
- Melt the butter in a little saucepan.
- Bruise the cardamom seeds in a mortar.
- Cream the eggs and sugar until thick and pale and tripled in volume, about 5-8 minutes in a stand mixer. This step is critical to the success of the cake.
- Quickly fold the flour and salt into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the butter and the cardamom.
- Give the batter a thorough stir before tipping it into the prepared pan. Thump the pan on the counter to settle the batter.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes (28 minutes at 5320ft).
- The top should feel dry and spring back when lightly pressed, and a knife inserted into the center should come out dry.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the pan about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan before inverting the cake onto a rack to cool. If using springform pan, remove the bottom of the pan carefully while the cake is still very warm. Let cool before serving.
- Mise en place is very important for this cake. Don't even think about looking for cardamom while the eggs and sugar are being creamed. Since the cake has no leavening, it depends on the air beaten into the eggs to make the cake rise. Time is of essence once the eggs and sugar have been creamed.
- Don't forget to add the melted butter. Super-smart people have forgotten to this very important step and had to do some magic, including prayer, for the cake to turn out well.
- The cake isn't very moist but it should not be dry either.
- I think it goes really well with Dorie Greenspan's hot fudge sauce.
So, Anita my friend, tell me what you thought of my little tea party! And let's see if you or any one can spot all the references to the Mad Tea Party on our table!