fun fact about me: i’m totally infatuated with scandinavia. have i ever been there? no, not yet. having spent exactly no time there has done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for living there someday, though. sure, i’m a little nervous about the extent to which pickled herring is a staple of the diet there BUT so is cardamom, so how bad could it be??
i love cardamom, as my enthusiasm for the recent olive oil orange cake with cardamom glaze might have indicated. in fact, between that cake and now this cardamom cake, i think i may have to put myself on cardamom baked good restriction for a while because cardamom in baked goods and self-restraint with said baked goods seem to be mutually exclusive concepts for me.
this particular cardamom cake is another recipe out of the little treasure that i first discovered at the library in the town where we lived previously and then was quite surprised to see on the shelf at the portland library. the cookbook is called swedish cake and cookies and it is charming in a looks-one-step-up-from-a-small-town-church-cookbook kind of way. apparently it’s pretty legit, though, first published in 1945 and with over 3 million copies sold worldwide since then, or so the red gingham cover proclaims. regardless, i’ve enjoyed the (two) recipes i’ve tried so far.
well, with one caveat: what the heck is a deciliter?!? is this another relic of me missing the metric system in elementary school (we moved and the metric system got lost in the shuffle)?? in fairness (/thank goodness), the cookbook does give measurements in cups too, but the first time i made this cardamom cake, i tried to be fancy and convert from deciliters to grams. i generally prefer to bake in grams, when possible, since they’re so darn precise, as compared to cups, which are subject to the whims of your method of filling them (scooping versus pouring in, etc.).
i should have immediately realized something was amiss when the conversion website that i was using reported that 8 dl of flour translated to 800 g. of flour. that’s a pretty extraordinary amount of flour (~6.5 cups) for any one cake, never mind a cake that instructs you to bake it in one 10” round pan.
it wasn’t until i was adding the 37th giant spoonful of flour to the scale and it STILL wasn’t registering anywhere near 800 g., though, that i began to suspect that something was amiss. at that point, i decided to convert the 3 1/3 cups flour instruction to grams… and came up with 400 g., aka, HALF of 800 g. ::sigh:: i can’t even really say exactly why or how but i ended up baking the first cake with 451 g. of flour… and confirming that 400 g. would be better and less dry.
same story but less dramatic with the sugar. stupid deciliters. i accidentally baked the first cake with too much sugar (not twice as much, luckily) and thus confirmed that the intended amount is, in fact, much better.
the only substitution that i was able to make successfully was swapping yogurt in for half of the butter. apparently/thankfully sweden measures butter in grams, not deciliters. phew! and i increased the cardamom a bit, because obviously more cardamom, more better.
the struggles didn’t stop once i had the batter mixed, however. i don’t have a 10” round pan as the recipe called for and this looked like too much batter for my 9” pan so, i put this baby in a bundt pan and haven’t looked back. if you don’t have a bundt pan, though, then a springform pan or a 9” x 9” square pan would be good substitutions (assuming you don’t have a 10” cake pan either – they’re not the most common size). (i linked to a handy pan sizes cheat sheet in the recipe notes.)
and finally, this cake was remarkably resistant to my best efforts to dress it up. it’s highest calling is to be simply sliced and toasted (in a toaster over – please don’t cram something this crumbly/delicate into a pop-up toaster!). truly. and believe me, i tried raspberry sauce, earl gray infused glazed, ginger syrup, chocolate ganache… toasted is the answer. if you find a better accompaniment, by all means, please let us know in the comments. i’ll have to take your word for it since i’m on cardamom baked good restriction…
- 100 g. (3.5 oz. / scant ½ cup / 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus a little extra for the pan
- 14 1/8 oz. (400 g. / 3 1/3 cups) all purpose flour, plus a little extra for the pan
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (i recommended aluminum free)
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
- 2 large eggs
- 8 ¾ oz. (247.5 g. / 1 ¼ cups) granulated sugar
- 100 g. plain yogurt (not greek, i used low fat)
- 10 oz. (1 ¼ cups) milk (i used fat free)
- butter and flour your pan (see notes). if you’re using a bundt pan, they can be prone to sticking so melt about a tablespoon of butter and use a pastry brush to coat the inside of the pan with the butter then flour.
- preheat the oven to 350° F.
- put the 100 g. of butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt it halfway, then stir to finish melting it. (this prevents it from splattering all over the inside of the microwave and gives it a head start on cooling off.) set aside to cool.
- in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and cardamom. stir to combine thoroughly then set aside.
- combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium (speed 4 on a kitchenaid) until very thick and pale yellow (about 3 – 5 minutes). batter will be slightly lumpy.
- add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined. if you have a splash guard, use it, otherwise, drape a clean kitchen towel over the mixer to contain the flying flour. use a spatula to be sure the ingredients at the very bottom of the bowl get mixed in too.
- transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake until the cake is golden brown on top and baked all the way through (toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). this took 40 – 45 minutes in my bundt pan and the original recipe says that it will take an hour in a 10” round pan. set your timer on the earlier side for your pan and check the cake at that point, then gauge how much more time it needs.
- when the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 – 30 minutes. use a thin rubber spatula to carefully loosen the cake from the edges (including the center in a bundt pan) then place a wire rack over the top of the pan and turn the whole unit upside down to release the cake. place a second rack on the cake and flip the whole thing back right side up, depending on what kind of pan you used (i think bundt cakes are meant to be served “upside down” but i kept the pan side down when i served it because i liked the texture of the “top” of the cake – you do you).
- use a sharp serrated knife to slice the cake. i enjoyed it most warm from the oven and then, later, sliced and toasted lightly in a toaster oven. allow it to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. it will last several days, if your willpower allows for such things.
the original recipe called for a 10” round pan and baking for around 1 hour. i used a bundt pan and baked the cake for 45 minutes. if you don’t have a bundt pan, though, then a springform pan or a 9” x 9” square pan would be good substitutions (assuming you don’t have a 10” cake pan either – they’re not the most common size). here’s a handy pan sizes cheat sheet.
adapted from “cardamom cake” in swedish cake and cookies.
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