Eat Me, Said the Cardamom Cake


Dearest Anita,

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!

A Mad Tea Party
Four mad hatters: me, me, me and me

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.

FMK marching up to start positions
Marchers

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.

Cardamom Cake


Eat Me Says the Cardamom Cake

  • 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

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. Cover the bottom with sliced almonds, if using, for a nice crunchy topping.
  4. Melt the butter in a little saucepan.
  5. Bruise the cardamom seeds in a mortar.
  6. 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.
  7. Quickly fold the flour and salt into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the butter and the cardamom.
  8. Give the batter a thorough stir before tipping it into the prepared pan. Thump the pan on the counter to settle the batter.
  9. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes (28 minutes at 5320ft).
  10. The top should feel dry and spring back when lightly pressed, and a knife inserted into the center should come out dry.
  11. 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.

Notes:
  • 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!

much love,
Manisha

21 comments:

Shammi said...

This is the funnest post I've read in a loooong time (anywhere) :) And I so love the photo! Are all those hats yours?

GB said...

LOL! I'd love to meet your "guests" (maybe just not all at once and certainly not in a dark alley!) What are their stories? :)

Soma said...

heheeeee :) Such a cute post Manisha! All the hats :P so much fun. Such a lovely cake but I am really loving the chutney and crackers. I have got to make me some chutney like this one.

Namitha said...

LOL ! You have a nice collection of hats :) Sometime back I baked a pear cake with cardamom and I loved it. This sounds really good :)

Happy Cook / Finla said...

I love the pics with you all in those hats don't take me wrong when oi say that i burseted laughing :-) Cake looks so good and i wish i was ther efor that hat cardamom cake tea party

Laura said...

Yum, I love cardamom in cakes, breads and anything sweet. The Swedish got it right. ;)

Manisha Pandit said...

What?! No-one wants to look closely at my table?!

Shammi, the blue one is mine, the Fedora is D's, the brown amigo-cowboy hat is D's purchased in Viet Nam, and the Mexican hat is Medha's from 2nd grade. I had an Uncle Sam top hat that I wanted to use but forgot. So, if you're wondering if I woke up my neighbors at midnight asking for hats, the answer is no! :-D

GB, come to Colorado and I'll share their secrets!

Soma, we were having so much fun we forgot to smile! Make the chutney and tell me what you think!

Namitha, do you have that pear-cardamom cake recipe on your blog? And I haven't forgotten about coffee this week! Let's do it! I'll email you.

Finla, that was the idea. It would have been nice if I had remembered to smile in at least one of them. The party would have had more life! Oh well, too late! The cake is delicious! Try it!

Laura, touché! They did indeed! This is a great cake and it moves very quickly and doesn't need to bake for as long either. Yum is right!

Laavanya said...

What a fun post and so very cute too... Am sure Anita will be thrilled with this tea party :)
Cardamom cake sounds fabulous.

Charul @ Tadka Masala said...

First up, I am gonna ask you how did you take that first picture? It is edited so beautifully!
And, the cake plus the whole arrangement on that table looks perfect! :)
The cake sounds delicious, I love the smell of cardamom and also the way my house smells when there is cardamom involved. Will try this cake. :)

Bong Mom said...

This is really a perfect mad post. Dumb me was wondering who were the three others under those hats.

If one can have such a fun tea party just by themselves, I need to try it out soon

TheCooker said...

Such a mad post.
The food on the table gets ignored with you, you, you, and you in the same frame.

Anita said...

You had a mad party and you invited "I , me, and myself!" That's a lot of you! [But, who is that hiding in the cup?!]
Love the 'eat me' cake, the variety of teas, and the dainty eating of the cookie! :-)
Cardamom is good and used usually in tiny quantities. Wonder how the food high on cardamom tastes like!
Thanks for bringing this mad party to the table, Manisha!

Anita said...

... and the cat and the clock! The more you look , the more there is to see!

Pelicano said...

You ARE amazing! It all looks wonderfully wonderland-y... and your cake reminds me of a 'pound cake'.

evolvingtastes said...

I am still wondering how you cut-pasted your pictures to create such a seamless looking one! Lovely.

Nupur said...

Shoot- I wish I knew about the triple ginger cookies a few weeks ago. Would have brought you several boxes! I've eaten my weight in those cookies just in the past year.

Manisha Pandit said...

Laavanya, thanks! The cake is now a hot favorite! Let me know if you try it.

Charul, how? So simple! I invited each one of me to the tea party and they picked their seats and then the fifth me took the picture. If I had told each me where to sit, it might have been better. Cowboy Me should have been sitting where Fedora Me is sitting. *sigh* They don't like to be told what to do!

Maybe you can make this cake along with the butter cookies that you will make for me?
:-D

BM, Dumb Me was taking the picture. I love being with Me the most! ;-D

TC, aw c'mon! Give it a shot! Find references to the real MTP!

Anita, you shine the light on the madness; I'm just following your lead! Hiding in the cup?! She's the dormouse, of course! (I gave away all of Medha's stuffed toys and this was the littlest anything we have left.) There's more! ;-D

Pelicano,so...I WIN!

Why does every cake I make reminds you of a pound cake?!


Et, cut-paste?! Ouch. That sounds painful. I'm completely intact. All four of me!

Nupur, what you came bearing was far, far more delicious! There is no comparison! The cornflakes chivda was gone in less than 24 hours.

D brought 3 boxes on his last trip. I am considering freezing the third box just because it will slow the transfer to my hips! Pel had sent me a recipe. I need to tweak that. But first I must make good chewy candied ginger and I believe he sent me a recipe for that, too! I see a project in my near future!

john k.Tas. said...

dear Manisha, great photographic effort , plus cooking story .
am slowly making my way home after 2 months in Alaska and British Columbia. whilst in B.C. , stayed in Princeton , well to the east of Vancouver. during that time , the crab-apple trees of a neighbour , twice attracted daytime visits by big black bears ( trees inside a backyard ).
don't know the bare bear facts of Colorado , but neighbours with crab-apples trees may well bear bear-watching ? !
hats off to you on yet another good story , Manisha ! cheers

Dayeeta Roy said...

What a lovely photograph idea and what a lovely cake!
Post was hilarious.....keep writing.

cheers,
d

Desisoccermom said...

That was a fun post befitting a Mad Tea Party. Loved it. :-)

john k.Tas. said...

Manisha , it must have been a very ME E E ERY party ? !
i take my hat off to you !

cheers, john k.