Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake


I am addicted to food magazines. I currently subscribe to Bon Appetite and Martha Stewart Living, and I regularly purchase Gourmet, Food and Wine, and Saveur. It's absolutely ridiculous how much time and money I spend on this magazines, but I just love perusing the recipes! Every now and then I feel a little guilty about this indulgence, and I make a point to cook several things from a recent publication. This week I decided to try out the Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake featured in the March 2009 edition of Gourmet. Here's the recipe with photos and some commentary along the way.

Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake
*Use a 12-cup kugelhopf or bundt pan

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 whole vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 1/2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

2. Whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar in mixer at medium speed, scraping side of bowl occasionally, until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean with tip of paring knife into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until combined well, about 1 minute.

A split vanilla bean -- gorgeous!

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in lemon juice until combined well. At low speed, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

3. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top. Gently rap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

I love the flecks of vanilla bean in the batter.


4. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.

It puffed up a lot after baking, but after resting for about an hour it became more dense.

5. For whipping cream: Beat cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla extract using whisk attachment of mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Serve cake with whipped vanilla cream.


I found the cake to be very subtle and satisfying. It was very moist, and the flavors intensified the longer it sat. The fresh vanilla bean really made all the difference between this cake and one flavored with vanilla extract. [I was quite shocked by the price of the cardamom ($8.99 for a small bottle) and the 2 vanilla beans ($9.99) at Publix. Because of that, I think this will have to be a special occassion cake from now on!]
The whipped cream was a perfect accompaniment. A fruity ice cream would also be delicious served alongside the cake.
This is definitely a cake I will make again. It filled the house with such a wonderful smell as it baked, and a small slice with a little cream was incredibly satisfying.


  1. looks and sounds delicious! THIS is why i need to buy a bundt pan :-)

  2. You can get cardamom really cheap at the Dekalb Farmer's market. I have a little tub of it thats taking me forever to work through- I should have just shared some of mine with you. I can never find fresh vanilla beans anywhere, though. I don't think my publix carries them.

  3. I usually buy my spices there, but I didn't plan far enough in advance so I didn't have time to go. I really kicked myself when I saw the prices at Publix!

  4. Get your cardamom and vanilla beans online!!! I got superb vanilla beans for $0.53 each (including shipping) last year.

  5. Can you recommend any websites where I can get that kind of deal?

  6. Hi Kasie,
    Yes indeed I can reccomend a vanilla site. I ordered about September 2008.
    I have just been to the site and sadly there has been a death in the family and the ordering is temporarily offline. I had very good experience with this site in the past and would use them again. I got a lot of beans on sale, for $27.50 shipped for 1/2 lb. of beans. Half Madagascar (basic bourbon vanilla great for everything) and half Tahitian (wonderful almost wild floral note, especially good for ice cream). It worked out to ~$0.53 a bean. At that price, honestly I'd have been happy with dried out vanilla bean 'seconds'. These were all 100% moist wonderful prime pods, I almost felt like I was getting away with something I did not deserve! Super experience. I hope they keep their prices and quality.
    FYI, the husks can and should be used in a custard or pudding-- something where the 'milk' or 'hot liquid' part gets cooked with the bean in there -- the flavor infuses like a tea. Then you strain them out, rinse briefly in hot water and dry (I just put mine out on the counter in a dish uncovered. Once totally dry, grind in a coffee grinder to a powder (sift in a fine sieve and regrind the big pieces) and use. I made your recipe with 1 Madagascar bean of seeds and a teaspoon of my husk powder. The power has a different but clearly vanilla flavor. One thing to remember, more vanill powder does not make it 'better' like more cayenne makes something 'hotter' -- it just gets bitter. So I use about the same measure of vanilla husk powder as a recipe calls for in extract. (1t vanilla extract = 1t powder for me). I love vanilla, I always double what a recipe calls for in extract if I use the liquid, but not if I use powder. By the way, Costco extract is the best deal I have found for that.

    I pretty much prefer the wildness of Tahitian, and would try this with that next time, but I need to use up my Madagascars so ... anyway I like to have both on had now. Choices make me feel like I am SMARTER! (~_-)

    Cardamom should be relatively fresh. Buy whole in small amounts, and toast lightly and grind yourself if you can. I get mine a local large cheap spice place in Seattle -- they have huge turnover, everything is fresh.

    and FInally, your cake was great. THANKS! This family agrees, it was better the second day. I will be making it a day ahead when I can from now on.

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