Orange cardamom yogurt cake
November 9, 2012 § 90 Comments
Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have been a pastry chef.
In general, I like to think of myself as more of a cook. I find some self-satisfaction in my inaccurate – or more appropriately, unprecise – stirring together of a pinch of this and a handful of that until I’ve made a meal of it. I don’t think of myself as precise enough for baking and pastries.
And yet…And yet, at the end of a very long week, a week where – let’s just say hypothetically – the workdays have been 12 hours long and the brain has taken the spirit captive, I find that precision is what I want. The precision is a respite.
Structurelessness can be a tyrant, and precision and strict guidelines can actually offer solace. In those moments, I take comfort in measuring an exact teaspoon and a half or creaming for exactly three minutes.
I also love pastries for their sheer un-utilitarian-ness. Sometimes when there’s a lot to do, the wise decision is to make those calls or do that laundry, to stop avoiding and cross some things off your list. But sometimes the wise decision is instead to do something that delights you, that has nothing to do with the list.
You don’t need sweets in your life, to be sure, but I think sometimes you do need little things that are “just because,” that aren’t necessities for the body, but may be for the soul. Life needs to contain both basics and beauty, both bread and roses, or perhaps both stews and pâte feuilletée.
Today, the list and baking actually coincide. I’ve been charged (oh who am I kidding, I basically clamored for the job) with baking cakes for a friend’s baby shower tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more delighted. I generally require some excuse to bake, but not much of one, someone to bake for is about all it takes.
I get to take the day and alternate between my never-ending data coding and gently melting chocolate, spicing squash puree, boiling down cider into caramel, and basically filling the house with the most extraordinary smells.
Truth in advertising, this isn’t one of the cakes I’m making today, (today I’m baking all cakes that I’ve never tried before because, well, that’s just what I do) rather, I made it for our neighborhood potluck a month ago (which we – in spite of our newness – somehow found ourselves gently goaded into hosting!). But, all the mixing and measuring I’ve been doing this morning reminded me of this cake, and the fact that I had a few photos of it waiting to be shared.
The potluck was one of those events, advertised only by little notes left in all of the neighbors’ doors, where we had no idea whether 50 people would show up or nobody at all. And I had no idea what to cook. At the last minute I decided a big orzo salad with broccoli pesto and some chunked avocado would suit most people, and would make good leftovers if we wound up hosting a party for only ourselves. And then, just for good measure, I decided to whip up a simple, sturdy, snacking-sort of loaf cake, something easy to slice and be nibbled on by a crowd.
I had first thought to make a clementine cardamom poundcake, but I never love a pound cake as much as I do its slightly lighter, Francophile-ier cousin, the yogurt cake. So, I took the orange and cardamom flavors and transposed them onto a basic yogurt cake, to the accolades of all! Yogurt cake always has a wonderful tight, moist crumb with the sweetness of a true cake, but with enough buoyancy and tang to make an acceptable breakfast or coffee-time snack.
The cardamom and orange perfuming the cake make me think both: sensual, and: Christmas. Which is kind of a disturbing thought, but it is also kind of the most wonderful thought ever. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too. Which you most certainly should with this one.
p.s. We’re westward bound to Washington and Oregon this weekend on a business-y but also fun trip to visit distilleries, talk to people about our awesome investment opportunity, and hopefully eat a great deal of excellent food. I’ll do my best to take lots of pictures! And I’ll be back in just over a week!
Orange Cardamom Yogurt Cake (makes one regular loaf-sized cake) (inspired by this cake)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°. Thoroughly butter a standard loaf pan well. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
- Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, cardamom, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
- Rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers, then combine this with the yogurt, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well blended. Fold in the dry ingredients just until they’re combined.
- Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven until top of cake is golden brown and a tester poked into center comes out clean, about 50–55 minutes.
- Let the cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edges to loosen it, invert it onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Cardamom = cardayum. Looks amazing!
Cardayum!!! Why have I never thought of that?! Love it.
Orange & cardamom is one of my favourite flavour combinations at the moment and I just love the sound of this cake.
Thanks! It’s a great combo.
I am an avid baker purely for the reason of procrastinating and not doing the things on my ever-growing list haha
This looks absolutely delicious, I can’t wait to try it!
Baking = the best form of productive procrastination ever.
This sounds AMAZING! I am definitely going to try it 🙂
This sounds amazing. Olive yogurt cakes, as well as cardamon. Definitely going on my to-bake list!
I hope you enjoy it!
Cardamom + Orange = Win! Win!
Can you use plain whole milk yogurt instead of greek? If so, I’m totally making yogurt cake tomorrow! Maybe even orange cardamom cake…
You should definitely be able to use plain whole milk yogurt. Your batter will be a little higher moisture content, but it should still bake up quite nicely (I’ve done this many times). If you have a yogurt that is quite liquidy, you might consider draining it through cheesecloth for a couple hours first, but on the whole it shouldn’t be necessary.
Good idea…since “Greek Yogurt” is simply plain yogurt that has been drained though cheesecloth anyway…
Emily, I always love your blog but this one made me buy all the ingredients on my way home because I just had to make it immediately. I’m eating some now and it’s delicious.
Yum! What a fabulous looking bake! =D
Coming to Portland? You should call…
That would be fun! We are going to be in Portland, but only for one very packed day. But, if you wanted to try to do coffee… 🙂
In your instructions, did you mean olive oil instead of butter?
Oops! Yes. Good catch – I go on autopilot sometimes… 🙂
I wondered about that too…Olive Oil is wonderful and delicious…but in place of butter? Glad you sorted that out, Jenn and Emily. I’m anxious to get rid of all the Bird Day leftovers, so I can try this cake!
Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, and I love the look of this “lighter than pound cake” cake!
Thanks so much! Cardamom is one of my favorite spices too.
Yum! I’m totally making this cake this afternoon! Also, you should extend your trip down to the Bay Area and say hi!
I wish!!!! We actually were considering trying to fit the Bay Area into our circuit, but it wound up being too much to do. If we ever are in the area though, I’ll be sure to be in touch. Are you loving it?!
Yes, things are great here! It’s a nice chance of pace from the Northeast!
You’re coming to wonderful, grey-and-dreary Oregon!! How exciting! Which areas? Let me know if you need restaurant recommendations 🙂 This cake is absolutely gorgeous! I agree with you about baking… I think of myself as more of a cook, too, but sometimes baking is just what I need after a long/hectic/draining day. I think this sounds absolutely perfect… perhaps tomorrow I will spin some cardamom seeds in my grinder and make this beauty for myself! Have a great trip!
Thank you so much! I’m glad you identify. We’re just going to be in Portland while we’re in Oregon (though I used to frequent Eugene a bunch back in the day, and I totally wish we could fit it in too). Happily we have a couple friends who are very much in the food know who have promised to hook us up with tasty things, but if you have any absolute favorites, I’d love to know what they are.
Well it sounds like you are in good hands! my favorite right now is Luc Lac — wonderful Vietnamese spot downtown on 2nd. Beaker and Flask is always amazing too! Enjoy your visit!
I just took this out of the oven–it smells FANTASTIC! I kept all the ingredients the same except for the flour. I used a homemade gluten-free flour mixture in place of the all purpose flour. Can’t wait to slice it up with a mug of tea!!
Hi! I’m going to try this recipe next week but on the ingredients list you wrote olive oil and on the instructions you wrote butter, so which did you use? Thanks!
The olive oil. Sorry for the mix up, I changed the recipe to reflect that just a bit ago.
This looks delicious! What beautiful photos! Hopefully I can make it this weekend!
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This looks fabulous. And it’s so true. Sometimes, for our own peace of mind, the list has to wait.
I just baked this and it took the full 55 minutes but the outside of the bread that was against the pan is pretty dark and tastes burnt. The inside is perfect. Is there a way around this? I used bakers joy to grease the pan. I use that in all my recipes that calls for grease but am wondering if that might be the culprit?
I have found I have that problem when I’m baking sometimes, and it seems usually to happen when I am using a nonstick pan that I have greased or buttered quite well. Something about the nonstick plus grease combo, I guess, because it doesn’t happen when I use a regular pan plus plenty of butter. Or do you have a dark colored loaf pan? Dark colored pans can also cause darker browning on the outside of cakes, which can generally be fixed by baking at 25 degrees lower.
Mine is a non-stick and I suppose it’s dark colored. I will try the 25 degrees lower and see how it works. It’s a great cake though 🙂 Thanks for the info.
I wish I was the type of cook who liked precision and accuracy. I cook without recipes, without measurements – based on what’s in the kitchen, based on how much time I have. Sometimes things turn out great…sometimes things just suck.
Yeah, the cook by feel method definitely takes time and practice to really nail down. But, every screw up is an opportunity to a) fix it in some ingenious way, and b) learn something!
I adore cardamom and make a cardamom cake but not with orange and yogurt… which sounds fabulous! I think I’ll try this version next time.
Cardamom is pretty much the best spice of all. 🙂
I am experimenting with yogurt. I turned a batch of milk into 4 quarts of yogurt. One of the jars i turned into yogurt cheese, another jar combined with the yogurt cheese I turned into cheesecake and a third jar I turned into frozen yogurt. With your recipe now I know how to use my last jar of yogurt. Thanks.
Yay! How perfect. I love homemade yogurt. Good luck with your experimentation!
What size loaf pan should be used?
Standard loaf pan size, so 9″X5″.
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Hi! Can I use extra virgin olive oil for this or does it need to be regular olive oil?
Extra virgin is preferable! It has better flavor. If I don’t specify in a recipe, olive oil means the extra virgin variety. Good question!
I just made this for my sons first birthday cake. It’s in the oven now and smells AMAZING! Thanks for sharing!
Happy birthday to your son!
Wow, is this delicious!!! Made it for gifts and ourselves.
I have now made this twice in one week and am in love! First for my son’s 5th birthday party brunch and it was a hit with both the young and old. Then a couple of days later with the addition of cranberries and walnuts. Yum yum! The only thing I altered (and I alter EVERY recipe) was cutting the cardamom to 3/4 tsp. I have over-cardamomed in the past and it’s no bueno. Thanks for the great recipe and look forward to explore your blog further.
Wonderful! Glad you’ve been loving it!
OK, first of all, this might be the most delicious cake I’ve ever tasted.
Expecting a great cake, I doubled its size and made it as a bundt. For the information of future readers–350 for 50 minutes on a low-ish rack and it’s perfect.
Wow!!…orange and cardamom..what a unique flavor combination.The pictures and your entire post is AMAING!! We tried baking a Portugese sweet bread called Massa Sovada…check it out at our blog : http://stovetopsandstilettos.com….we would love your feedback!! 🙂
Hi! I baked it in the middle of the night. I used clementines instead of oranges because they are in season. It turned out pretty delish! thanks so much for the recipe!
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I love this cake! Simple, easy and delicious. I made it for the first time this weekend and made it again today. I used satsuma zest(what I had on hand) for the first try and it worked nicely. Second try, I made it with orange zest and added a pinch of ground ginger(because I really like ginger) and it was really good too.
Wonderful! Thanks for letting me know!
This is soooo delicious. And easy! Have made it twice now and it’s been a success each time.
This is so delicious , I just baked it following your recipe and it turned out amazing.
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Hi Emily. Do you think using whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular flour would work?
Hi Roshni, I would guess it would turn out pretty well. It would be denser and with a different texture, but I bet it would still taste great. You could also consider using half whole wheat pastry flour and half all purpose. If you try either, let me know how it turns out!
I made this yesterday. It was so good I had to share it on my blog (with a link to your lovely blog). Thank you!
That’s so great. Thanks!
I tried this yesterday with whole wheat pastry flour. I can safely say it was the best cake I have baked ever :). It was perfect. Thank you for the great recipe.
Yay! And I’m so psyched to hear it works well with whole wheat pastry flour.
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I’ve made this four or five times now and I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I live in India with my husband, so you can find citrus and cardamon pretty much everywhere, but I never thought to combine them. I’ve brought this cake to potlucks and given it away and every time people rave over it. I have trouble finding Greek yogurt so I just use regular yogurt and I cut back to 3/4 tsp cardamon (or elaichi as it’s known in Hindi 😉 ), but those are the only changes I make. Love love love this cake.
That’s so great! I’m glad it’s been going over well. Also, love knowing the word for cardamom in Hindi, especially since it’s my favorite spice!
I made this today, but used lime zest instead of orange and put a lime juice and sugar glaze on top. Fabulous! So moist. Even my husband liked it.
Love the lime idea! That sounds fabulous.
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