Sunday, 15 August 2010

A pleasant surprise from the worst spice ever

Cardamoms are not my favourite spice. I have tasted them in kesari, payasam, a myriad of halwas, even Indian chai and have thought they are the worst spice ever. 

Cardamoms - residing with cloves at the centre of my spice universe

I find them musky and strongly-flavoured. Their flavour is so dominant that they seem to overpower all other flavours in whatever dish they are added to. So over the years, I learned to give the usual 'suspect' dishes - like those listed above - a wide berth.

Then I noticed the strangest thing ever. People all over the internet seem to have taken to it like ducks to water. They've even paired it with orange and put it macarons!

I had an eggless plain cake recipe to try out this weekend. I had oranges in the kitchen and cardamom in my spice box, so... I experimented. I subbed out the vanilla and added orange essence, orange juice, orange rind and crushed seeds from plump cardamom pods.

My aunt's 'tumbuk' or mortar and pestle which I used to crush the cardamoms in

The results? Fabulous.

The flavour combination was perfectly mild and balanced. The cardamoms gave the orange-scented cake a lovely warmth and depth. I ate three slices of it before even realising what I'd done!

(Perhaps Indians have become heavy-handed with the spice, like Americans have with cinnamon.)

Hot from the oven... I wasn't too sure about the cake at this point

As for the cake... don't be fooled by its eggless nature. The tight, dense crumb is deceptively  moist. Best of all, you won't even miss the eggs.

Do try spreading some orange marmalade on the slices... delicious! 

Orange & Cardamom Tea Cake with Glaze

Deceptively moist and flavourful crumb

Orange-Cardamom Tea Cake

90g butter
80g castor sugar
100g evaporated milk
1/4 tsp orange essence
2 tsp orange juice
Seeds from 8 plump cardamoms, crushed
Rind from 1 orange, grated
170g plain flour
1/2 tsp double-action baking powder
1/4 baking soda

Juice from half an orange
Seeds from 3 plump cardamoms, crushed
6 tbsp icing sugar

  • Preheat oven at 140C.
  • Grease and line a loaf tin. 
  1. Place butter, sugar, milk and cardamom in a pan. Bring to the boil, over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Remove from stove-top and allow to cool.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl. 
  3. Add orange rind to the flour and mix through. Make a well in the centre of the flour.
  4. Pour in the cooled mixture through a sieve into the well, add essence and juice. 
  5. Beat with electric beaters quickly, until the batter just comes together. Do not over mix. Batter will look thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake at 160C for about 30 - 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. 
  7. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  8. For the glaze - Mix the orange juice, sugar and crushed cardamom together to form a slightly thick, drippy mixture. Set aside. 
  9. Put the cooled cake on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, prick the cake all over the top. Pour on as much glaze as you like and let it sit for a few minutes for the glaze to soak through. 
  10. Cut and serve. This cake is best eaten on the same day it is made. 

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