Coffee and cardamom pound cake

I made this cake to bring in for the night shift one day. I don’t know what came over me, making that broccoli and stilton soup for lunch and then making this cake before starting nights. I must have had a particularly restful weekend. Also, doing this satisfies my craving for having sweets but allows me to distribute the rest of the calories to other people. And boy does this cake need calorie distribution, what with having over a block of butter in it. Gareth doesn’t like cake see (except cheesecake), so I have to find people to gift the cakes to lest I eat it all myself. Lucky them!

This recipe in Ottolenghi’s Sweet cookbook appealed because the flavours seemed really interesting. Sometimes interesting can be ‘interesting’, but I trust Ottolenghi’s palate and was sure it would turn out delicious. And it did!

Just a few notes on the recipe, and things I might change myself when I bake this again. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 tbsp of instant coffee granules but the coffee taste wasn’t too evident in the cake so feel free to increase it by another 1/2 or 1 tbsp to see if that would taste stronger. I also decreased the sugar in the cake slightly. The actual icing tasted fabulously coffeeish so I would coat the cake completely with it, rather than drip down the sides. I weighed out the actual amount of icing sugar required and it seemed a huge amount. I must have spooned out about 150g or so to mix it in and it was very sweet already. So you probably won’t need the full 240g of sugar, add and taste as you go along.

The notes in the book are very useful on making ground cardamom. For the amount required in the recipe, use 40 cardamom pods. Crush them lightly with the flat edge of a knife and remove the seeds. Ground them down with a coffee or spice grinder. Much better than using store-bought cardamom, which can be quite difficult to find anyway.

It is a proper pound cake and will have quite a dense texture, but it doesn’t sit heavy at all. The recipe might seem a bit involved, but it wasn’t really and I quite enjoyed making it, and eating it. The night shift seemed to like it too!

Coffee and cardamom pound cake

Serves 10-12

90ml full fat milk, plus 20ml more for the coffee
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour, sifted
100g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp table salt
250g caster sugar
300g salted butter, soft and diced
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp good quality cocoa powder
1 tbsp extra butter, melted and extra flour for dusting

1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
45 ml full fat milk, warmed
Up to 240g icing sugar, sifted (probably will require less)
30g salted butter, softened

  1. Grease a 23cm bundt tin with the melted butter using a pastry brush. Pour in some flour into the bundt tin, and tilting it on its side keep tapping and turning it around to ensure all the inside surfaces are coated with a thin layer of flour. Tip out the excess flour. Crucial step this, to ensure your cake tips out beautifully at the end.
  2. Preheat the oven to 195 degrees Celcius/175 degrees Celsius Fan/Gas Mark 5.
  3. Place the milk, eggs and vanilla extract into a bowl and lightly whisk to combine.
  4. Into a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer stir the flours, salt and caster sugar together. Then add the butter and half of the egg mixture and mix with a hand mixer or the stand mixer until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Then gradually add the remaining egg mixture and continue beating until incorporated. (Don’t worry if the batter looks split).
  5. Pour out half of the batter into another bowl.
  6. Add the ground cardamom into one batter half, and fold to combine with a spatula.
  7. Warm the extra 20ml milk and dissolve the coffee granules and cocoa powder in it. Add to the other batter half and fold to combine.
  8. Spoon the mixtures into the bundt tin in four alternate blobs, building up the layers until the batters run out. Then use a skewer or small knife to swirl through the mix to create a marble effect. Don’t overdo the swirling or you will lose the effect.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside the whole tin for 10 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. To make the icing, combine the warmed milk and coffee in a bowl. Add the butter, then the icing sugar gradually, tasting as you go along. You will probably not need all of the 240g, I used about 150g. Whisk until smooth and thick, then spoon all over the cooled cake.

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