Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Black Cardamom Plum Cake

     Plums are in season! I found a  great variety at the Lansdowne Farmer's Market this past Saturday. I asked one of the vendors if they were sweet. He answered yes, and said to go ahead and taste one. Quite a salesman! They were purple on the outside and yellow on the inside. Crisp and pleasantly sweet with a nice little zing of acid from the skin. I was sold!

     My plan was to make a plum cake. I knew I had a recipe for it somewhere, but I my search came up empty. So, to the google I went and saw more plum cakes then I care to remember. Some of them mentioned cardamom however, and this piqued my interest. 
     I remember cardamom, decordicated cardamom. Somewhere in the archives of my baking days I seem to remember making a cardamon coffee cake. I checked my local market and found nothin. But we made the trek out to Wegman's today and sure enough they carried it.  Only it was $11.00 for a small spice sized bottle! Really? I don't think so. I simply didn't see myself using enough of it to justify the cost. 
     Out of curiosity I looked in the international food isle. There in the Indian section I found a small package of black cardamom. Hmmmm, I thought, what if....
     Black cardamom is used widely in Indian cooking. It has an intense smoky aroma due to the method used for drying the pods. In fact, it smells like a backyard barbecue. But if you slice open the pods, remove just the seeds, grind them in a spice mill (or a mortar and pestle), mix with cinnamon, and counter balance with lemon and vanilla, you have a perfectly wonderful flavor blend for a late Summer plum cake.

Black Cardamon Plum Cake

1/2 cup butter (plus some for the pan)
3/4 cup raw sugar (plus some to sprinkle on top)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (plus some for the pan)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 /2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black cardamon (remove seeds from 2 pods and grind in a spice grinder) or ground cardamon (but then it wouldn't be black cardamon plum cake
zest of lemon
1/2 cup milk 
10-12 plums, sliced into quarters

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add lemon zest, scrap the bowl and beat again, making sure everything is incorporated.  In a small bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamon. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter and sugar mixture, starting and ending with flour; beating well after each addition.  Butter and flour a 9” cake pan. Pour batter into pan and arrange plum slices on top. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 12 to 16 slices. 

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