Thursday 4 October 2012

Cardamon & Orange Pound Cake

This cake is part of my continuing search for the perfect snack to eat outside the library.

It needs to be:
a/ robust enough to handle being bashed around in my bag.
b/ self-sufficient - i.e not need anything else to go with it (including tea).
c/ filling enough to fuel reading.
d/ able to keep well so I can have it for several days.
e/ tempting enough to be used to reward/bribe myself.

This recipe fulfils all my criteria.

Pound cake is a term for a traditional creamed sponge, so named because they used to make huge cakes involving a pound (around 450g) each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. This is a slightly different recipe - with the oil and milk and so on - but its roots lie in that tradition.

I flavoured the cake with orange zest and freshly ground cardamon. I wanted the flavours to be subtle instead of punchy - as I'm eating it unadorned, there aren't any other flavours competing, so it doesn't need to hit you over the head.

I had a friend coming round the evening I made the cake, so I siphoned off a bit of the mixture into a tiny loaf tin so it would bake faster and we could eat it earlier. Alas, my genius plan was flawed - I had to wait for the big cake to nearly finish baking so it didn't sink because I'd opened the door. So yes. It's not a shortcut.

Also - if your kitchen starts smelling very strongly of orange cough syrup while the cake bakes, do not panic. The cake itself does not smell of orange cough syrup and it does not taste of orange cough syrup. It freaked me out. I don't like orange cough syrup.

P.S. I'm getting glammed up and heading to the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards tonight - wish me luck!

Cardamon & Orange Loaf Cake
(adapted from Alice Medrich's Olive Oil Pound Cake in Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)

zest of an orange
200g caster sugar (I used golden)
4 whole cardamon pods
165ml extra virgin olive oil
big pinch of fine sea salt
3 eggs, cold from the fridge
200g plain flour
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
165ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 9x4" (23x10cm) loaf tin with baking parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer (ignore my other bowl above, this will save on your washing up), rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar has turned orange (this releases the oils in the zest). Crack the cardamon pods by crushing them with the side of a knife. Remove all of the little black seeds and discard the shells. Grind the seeds up with a pestle and mortar. Add the cardamon, olive oil and salt to the mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well between each addition. Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes - the mixture should look paler and thicker.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add a third of the flour to the mixer, stirring on low until combined. Add half the milk, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour, mixing until uniform in between each addition. The mixture will be pretty liquid. Scrape the beater and the sides down and fold in. Pour into the prepared tin and place in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a knife/cake tester can be removed cleanly from the middle. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin. Keeps well for four or five days in airtight tin/box and freezes well.

(Makes one loaf)


  1. I love your criteria! and this cake looks amazing!

  2. LOVE the flavors in this cake. So comforting :)

  3. Oh my, I LOVE that list (a-e), so spot on. Happy reading, love.

  4. I love cake with olive oil, and I have been looking for something simple and filling to snack on. I may add walnuts for crunch. Thank you for always such lovely blog posts.

  5. Oh I love olive oil in cakes and made some cookies for the first time using olive oil too. Such a good idea and so is the pairing of orange with cardamom.

  6. This is truly delicious. The flavour is amazing!

  7. This sounds so divine and perfect for the Fall. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to make it.

    Have a great weekend!


  8. I have been using olive oil in baking more and more (thanks to a steady supply of Pugliese olive oil from the olive grove of a colleague's parents) and am really intrigued by your combination of orange and cardamom. I don't think I have ever seen the two used together and now I see your cake as well as the entry in the Flavour Thesaurus on how well the citrussy notes of the cardamom go with orange and I really want to stock up on some fresh oranges now ... Maybe I need to combine your recipe for mini madeleines with orange and cardamom!

    Congratulations on the blog award as well!

  9. Oh, I'm also on a continuous search for a snack like that as well! I think cake is definitely something needed for hard study times. Might try this out, thanks!

  10. I've had some cookies that are this flavour which were awesome and I'm sure this would be great too. Do you think some toasted walnuts might go, or is it best left unadorned? Thank you

  11. poiresauchocolat8 January 2013 at 07:44

    Hi! I think walnuts might be a little odd (but then they're not my favourite nut, so I might be being biased!). I think it's lovely unadorned - but perhaps pistachios would would be a better choice if you want to add nuts? They have a middle eastern sort of connection with the cardamon and orange and the grassy olive oil would work well with them.

  12. I listened to you and left it plain - I'm glad I did - it's delicious as it is! Now going to try and convince myself that it's super healthy lol. Thanks for the recipe! x

  13. poiresauchocolat14 January 2013 at 10:33

    That's great! So pleased you like it - I'm a massive fan of this recipe.

  14. WOW wow, baked this cake today, absolutely heavenly. I accidentally added a pinch of coriander powder thinking it was cardamom powder (I did use cardamom pods too!!!). So easy to make, delicious and extremely addictive how it will last 5 days i do not know. Thank you. need a warning on your recipe page, the cake rose to an incredible height, very impressive.

  15. poiresauchocolat23 April 2013 at 13:09

    Coriander sounds good, in an unusual way! I'm so glad you like it. Do you mean the cake spilled over or just that it rose well?

  16. I made this cake last night and got lots of positive feedback! Nicely moist cake with a crunchy top and unique flavors. Keeping this recipe on regular rotation for breakfasts at my house!

  17. I'm so pleased you liked it! It's a great recipe and fun to play around with.


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