Many years ago, travelling in Iraq and Jordan, I sampled cardamom coffee for the first time and fell in love with it. My friend Jenny, who is either psychic or knows my tastes remarkably well, recently gave me a packet from London’s Algerian Coffee Stores and it took me right back. It is the most evocative of tastes and although it makes a very fine drink, I wanted to use that flavour combination in a cake.
I’ve got a bit of a thing about loaf cakes at the moment – they’re the just the right size for a small household. The proportions for this are based on a different cake in Hattie Ellis’s Spoonfuls of Honey, simply because they work so well. (Thank you, Hattie.)
It’s perfect to eat with – well – your morning coffee. Light textured, a good depth of flavour, an elusive whiff of exotic spice and a crunchy topping, but not too sweet. It’s a grown-up cake.
As most people obviously won’t have a pack of cardamom coffee in their cupboard I have used coffee granules/powder throughout the recipe below. If you can get your hands on some, use it for the drizzle.
Coffee and Cardamom Cake
125g softened butter
A pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter
125g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods
1 tbsp coffee granules (or more, to taste) dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling warer
1 tbs milk
Fro the drizzle:
1 tbsp coffee granules dissolved in 4 tbsp hot water (or strong cardamom coffee)
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F/Gas Mark 5. Butter a 2lb loaf tin (approx 20cm x 12cm x 9cm), dust it with flour and tap out the excess, or use a liner.
Split the cardamom pods, empty out the seeds and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle (or the end of a rolling pin). Sift the flour into a bowl, add the spice and stir to mix. Add the salt, if using.
In a second bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg and mix well. Add half the flour and mix again, then the second egg, followed by the remaining flour, making sure each ingredient is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Pour in the coffee mixture and blend in.
Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top. Give it a good rap on the counter to settle the mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Take the cake out of the tin and put it on a plate. Mix the drizzle ingredients together, make a series of deep holes in the cake with a skewer and spoon the drizzle over slowly while the cake is still hot.
Cool completely before slicing and eating. This cake is best scoffed within a couple of days but will keep for three or four, stored in an airtight tin.