Crispy-Fluffy Cardamom Cake

An almond-topped cake on a stand, with a slice cut out. The slice is on a plate with strawberries next to the stand.

Jordan: This cake is so fluffy I could die.

Kitra: I think it’s fascinating that the adjective you chose to describe it is fluffy because while that’s true, I don’t think it’s in the top 10 I would’ve come up with.

Ten adjectives, go.

1. Crackly

This is true. The top has a layer of sugar and almonds that gives it a nice bit of texture—though it’s not as crackly as, say, this caramelized almond cake, and the almonds stay a little on the chewy side.

2. Lacy

Also true, very similar.

3. Spiced

The only spice is cardamom, but hoo boy does it come through. Not in a bad way! In a delicious way, assuming you like cardamom.

4. Light

We’re getting close to fluffy, but carry on.

5. Crisp

The sides of the cake do have a beautiful crispness, like the edges of a crepe or an incredibly thin fortune cookie.

6. Dreamy

…Sure.

7. Versatile

This is a breakfast cake, or a dessert cake, or a snacking cake. This is an anytime cake.

8. Surprising

Yes. I was very pleasantly surprised by how nuanced this cake was, and even more by how incredibly fluffy it was.

9. Fun

Sure, why not.

10. Unassuming

I would argue that this is similar to “surprising,” but you’re right—it doesn’t look like much, but it’s very delicious.

Point is, the two things that really stick out to me about this cake are the awesome crispy crackly edges which make it way more fun to eat than most cake, and the big pop of cardamom, my favorite always. But I guess it’s also fluffy, sure.

You did describe it as similar to angel food cake, despite being nowhere near as dry, as sweet, or as boring as angel food cake often is. (The last part is my editorializing.)

I would never say those things about angel food cake, which can be very flavorful and (as I know from making a crapton of them) a little too wet. Sticky, at least. This one has a similar vibe though in terms of flavor (minus the cardamom) and doesn’t require a whole bunch of egg yolks to sit around in your fridge unused until they dry out and you forget what they were.

It’s truly such a simple cake, especially if you have a stand mixer. You throw together your sugar and eggs, beat the crap out of them, and then add some cardamom seeds, melted butter, and flour. The most time-consuming part is cracking open a handful of cardamom pods to get the seeds out, but it’s worth it for the delightful little pops of cardamom scattered throughout the cake.

And you can, technically, buy cardamom seeds out there in the world. (But why would you, when cardamom like the stuff at Diaspora exists?)

Kitra and I may not agree on how to describe this cake—or on angel food cake—but we both ate our first slices of this cake in contented silence because it was just excellent.

A top-down view of an almond-topped cake on a stand.

Crispy-Fluffy Cardamom Cake

From Food52, where it was adapted from Niloufer Ichaporia King

Notes

The cardamom seeds here refer to the tiny seeds inside a cardamom pod, not the pod itself. You can either buy them or lightly crush cardamom pods to release the seeds and discard the pods.

Ours took longer than 35 minutes to bake fully, but that may have been an issue with Kitra’s oven so we’ve left the original timing in the instructions below. Don’t have a springform pan? We’re 95% confident that you could do this in a regular cake pan if you line the bottom with parchment paper.

We served this with some lightly sweetened strawberries, but it’s also great on its own.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (65 grams) sliced almonds
  • 1⅓ cups (265g) sugar, plus more for the pan
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⅓ cups (160g) flour
  • 1 tablespoon of cardamom seeds (see note), lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1⅓ sticks (just shy of 11 tablespoons, 150g) butter, melted, plus more for the pan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter, then add a good spoonful of sugar to the bottom. Tilt and tap the pan until the inside is fully coated in sugar. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs for approximately five minutes, until very very thick and fluffy. Fold the flour, cardamom, and salt into the sugar/egg mixture, then fold in the melted butter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of batter (though it’s fine if seems a bit damp). Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and carefully turn it out onto the rack and remove the bottom and sides of the pan. Let cake cool fully before serving.

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