The weekend before last I flew down to Melbourne, which called for carry-on cake. I alighted on a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's new cookbook Sweet (stupendous - buy it in bulk and distribute to anyone on your Christmas list who loves baking), adapted it accordingly for airline travel (basically, just halving the quantities of ingredients so it could be made in a loaf tin) and before long I was slicing it in my friend George's South Melbourne kitchen.
As students, George and I toiled together in a suburban Brisbane café serving Saturday shoppers coffee and cake, which probably explains why all these years later we particularly delight in staying in on the weekend with a pot of tea and a whole cake all to ourselves.
This is Ottolenghi and his co-author (Australian!) Helen Goh's riff on Rose Levy Beranbaum's revered recipe for "Perfect Pound cake". Light, moist and fragrant with coffee, cardamom and cocoa, it's just as good the next day, and the day after that. If indeed it lasts that long.
Coffee and cardamom pound cake
Adapted from a recipe in Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
I halved the amounts and made this in a small loaf tin. The quantity below is intended for a bundt/ring/kugelhopf tin.
90ml full fat milk, at room temperature, plus an extra 20ml for the coffee
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
300g caster (superfine) sugar
300g unsalted butter, soft, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tsp good quality cocoa
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
45ml full fat milk, warmed
240g icing (confectioners') sugar, sifted
30g unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 195C and grease and flour your tin.
Place milk, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk lightly together.
Sift flour and salt together into the bowl of a food processor/stand mixer and blend briefly with the sugar. Add butter and half of the egg mixture and continue to mix til the dry ingredients are incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture, in two batches, making sure to wait til the first is incorporated before adding the rest but if the mixture splits, don't panic. All will be well.
Divide batter between two bowls. Add the cardamom to one bowl and mix in.
Warm the extra 20ml milk and stir the coffee granules and cocoa into it. Combine this with the batter in the other bowl.
Dollop the two batters into the prepared tin in alternating blocks, then use a skewer or a small knife to make a zigzag shaped swirl once through the mix.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to fully cool.
For the icing: combine coffee and warm milk in a bowl and add the icing sugar along with soft butter. Whisk til smooth and thick, then spoon over the cooled cake, allowing it to set before serving.