vanilla cardamom pound cake

Since someone has unofficially officially been off sweets since January, my baking endeavors have been few and far between as of late. I decided to give up sweet delicious things for a few reasons. One was the fact that I had far too many cookies/truffles/caramels/pieces of pie during the holidays. But the real motivation comes from the two weddings I am taking part in later this year. I know it’s silly, but there is something to be said about the way weddings and high school reunions really inspire people to get it together. While at times it has been a bit of a challenge, I’ve gotta say that it’s actually been easier than I had imagined. And this is coming from a lady who loves her baked goods.

But I would be lying if I didn’t mention my so-called days of amnesty. Like the Saturday afternoon I spent cake tasting with one of my best girlfriends and her fiance. Three bakeries and almost thirty different cakes later, I was literally in a cake coma and practically had to force myself to try the last three flavors. It was an amazing experience. BTW, if you’re in the Bay Area and looking for a wedding/special occasion cake, we loved Julie at Torino Baking. Her cakes are tasty and absolutely gorgeous AND she is a Food Network Cake Challenge winner!

Then there was the all day long birthday brunch I attended earlier this month where a variety of sweet things, including Dan’s peanut butter chocolate cupcakes and Magnolia’s Red Velvet, courtesy of Denny, were just begging to be sampled. And sample I did. Here and there. All day long.

In the name of research, and because I had the time and an excuse (Sunday dinner with Grandmama), I decided to bake last Sunday. I immediately reached for the vanilla cardamom pound cake recipe that caught my eye last March while flipping through Gourmet. This cake had been in the back of my mind for months, but for one reason or another, I never got around to trying it out. Since I recently stocked up on cardamom and needed to use some leftover buttermilk, I felt that the stars had finally aligned.

As luck would have it, this cake was everything I was hoping it would be: sweet and rich with a lovely cardamom-vanilla essence. It was the perfect ending to a casual dinner and equally nice as an afternoon snack with tea and oranges. Thank goodness for amnesty days! And even more so for the co-workers who were more than happy to take the rest of this cake off my hands.

vanilla cardamom pound cake

adapted from Gourmet

makes 10-12 servings

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cardamom or 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup buttermilk

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

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 beans with tip of a paring knife into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. 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 buttermilk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

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

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about one  hour more.