Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Cardamom crumb cake

When is it acceptable to eat cake for breakfast? 
a) when it's your birthday
b) when in Rome (or more literally, for me, in Stanwell Park, where I frequently stay with friends who strongly believe that cake is a legitimate breakfast food)
c) when the cake in question contains cardamom, walnuts, coffee and orange zest, all of which can be found in pastries traditionally eaten in the morning
d) when you are planning to get up at 4am for the next month to watch the World Cup and need some extra incentive to exit your very warm bed

The answer for me, obviously, is all of the above. But with the World Cup approaching, I've been stashing treats in the freezer like a manic squirrel. Because you really do want something in your stomach to help you wake up when you set your alarm for the early hours - nothing too intensely sweet for first thing, just a little morsel to comfort you in the cold. This fits the brief nicely - cardamom, coffee, and sweet orange cake topped with a nubbly, buttery walnut crumb. It's good eaten warm, whether freshly baked (and studying the form guide) or reheated (straight from the freezer to the oven) for kick off.

Cardamom crumb cake
Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan via Food52

You can prepare the crumbs ahead of time if you like - they will keep in the fridge for up to three days. And the whole cake - once baked - can be cut, wrapped tight and kept in the freezer, should you wish. To reheat, wrap a piece or pieces in foil and pop in a 350 deg F oven for ten minutes or so.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 oz unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
4 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking tin.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss together to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers, combine until you’ve got crumbs of different sizes. Set aside. 

To make the cake: Measure sugar and orange zest into a large bowl and rub them together til the sugar is damp and fragrant with orange zest. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder and whisk to combine. 

Put the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk together. Pour these wet ingredients over the dry and stir just til everything is just incorporated (being careful not to over-mix). Pour into the prepared tin and top with a thick, even layer of the crumbs. Pat the crumbs gently into the batter.  

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake has risen, the crumbs are golden and a skewer/toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool in the tin before cutting in the tin (to conserve crumbs) and serving warm or at room temperature.


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