Friday, July 6, 2012

pistachio-cardamom pound cake


I know.  That's exactly what I said when I pulled it out of my huge selection of spices a while back.

This isn't actually the first time I've used Cardamom.  I fell in love with it about a year ago when hunting for a unique recipe to finish up some strawberries I had.  I didn't want to fall back on the ol' shortcake standby, so I found a recipe for mini tarts that included this new-to-me spice. Someday, I'll share the tart recipe, but today, I wanted to offer you a glimpse of another way to use the exotic flavoring native to India.

This pound cake is really busy with flavor.  You start by toasting pistachios, (one of our family's favorite snack staples) and the rest is history.  One piece of advice, though:  don't forget to turn down the oven after toasting the nuts.  From experience, a pistachio-cardamom pound cake cooked at 425 for too long is less than desirable. :)

But, as someone once said, "Recovering from failure is such a great opportunity!"

Pistachio-Cardamom Pound Cake -makes one loaf

For the cake

  • 1 cup shelled raw pistachios
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature), plus more for pan
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the icing
  • 1-2 tsp. milk
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
For the topping

  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • dash of confectioners' sugar (optional)
~To make the cake, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread pistachios on baking sheet and toast until browned, about five minutes, turning once halfway through.  Transfer nuts to plate and let cool.  In a food processor or chopper, pulse nuts until finely ground and set aside.  REDUCE OVEN TO 350 DEGREES.

~ Grease 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with butter.  Line with parchment paper and grease with butter as well.

~ Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 tsp. cardamom, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  

~ In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until airy.  Drizzle in egg-vanilla mixture, a little at a time, mixing between additions and scraping bowl as needed.  Alternate adding flour mixture and 1/2 cup buttermilk, starting and ending with flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Fold reserved pistachios into batter and pour into loaf pan.

~ Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes.  Cool in pan approximately 10 minutes and then transfer cake out of pan onto rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, for the topping, mix berries and sugar together in bowl and set aside.  This will allow them to macerate and release their own juices.

~ For the icing, sift confectioner's sugar and 1/2 tsp. cardamom into a medium blow.  Whisk in lemon juice and 1-2 tsp. milk (or more) until desired consistency is reached.  I prefer mine be a glaze I can pour and allow to drip down sides.  Let icing set, about 10-15 minutes.  Spoon berry mixture over top and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Adapted from Country Home Magazine Recipes