Tuesday 7 March 2017

Orange blossom, yoghurt and cardamom cake


If you like to bake, birthday cake is the best. There is nothing nicer than making one for someone you love, unless that person is under ten and the cake in question has to resemble a Disney character or something similarly complex requiring graph paper, a work plan and multiple tins. I'm in awe of my friends with kids who routinely turn out these marvels. This cake was not for a kid but for a very good friend with a big double digit birthday, but there's no need for birthday cake to be grown up. All that matters is that it's sturdy (to hold up all those candles), sweet, and good enough to go back for seconds...


This one succeeds on all scores. As I gave as a birthday present, Hetty McKinnon's first cookbook Community, it was fitting that this recipe comes from her second, Neighbourhood. It's full of all sorts of good things (pistachios! orange blossom water! cardamom! yoghurt! cream cheese!) and presents the prettiest palette of pale orange, pink and green. I'm predisposed to orange as a cake flavour for birthdays - it's not just sweet but somehow joyful in its brightness, both in flavour and hue. 


Though fittingly celebratory, this is actually quite a modest cake, requiring only two eggs, a small (but sufficient) amount of icing and seriously, no technique at all - the butter is melted, so it's just a matter of combining the wet ingredients with the dry and bundling the resultant batter in the oven. Minus the candles, it's an effortless everyday cake, good for lunchboxes and picnics, easily cut and carried. Equally suited to forks or fingers.

Orange blossom, yoghurt and cardamom cake
Adapted from Neighbourhood by Hetty McKinnon

Don't forget to zest the orange before you juice it! Orange blossom water is available at middle eastern grocery stores, delis and good supermarkets. If you can't find it or don't want to buy a whole bottle for the purposes of just the two teaspoons used in this recipe, you could easily do without it.

250g salted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of one orange
3 tablespoons orange juice
250g (1 cup) Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour (or 2 cups plain with 4 teaspoons baking powder)
330g (1 1/2 cups) raw granulated sugar (I used golden demerera)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, to decorate

orange and cream cheese icing
125g cream cheese, at room temperature
90g (3/4 cup) icing (confectioner's) sugar
dash of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 160 deg C. 

Grease and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.

Combine wet ingredients - whisk together butter, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice, yoghurt and orange blossom water in a bowl.

Combine the flour, sugar and cardamom in another bowl and mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and fold until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in teh centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

Prepare icing by whisking together cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and orange juice. Combine well, ensuring there are no lumps and the icing is smooth in texture.

Spread icing over the cooled cake and top with chopped pistachios.


  1. I made this cake on the weekend in a ring tin which made it look even more special. My niece iced and decorated it with pistachios, it looked lovely. A big hit with all.

  2. I've been missing your wonderful baking ideas. I'll try this one when I'm in Vancouver.

  3. So glad you're going to Vancouver Judy! Would love to see a photo if you make this one with Maddy.

  4. Can you confirm your icing ingredients? 2 tablespoons of orange juice seems like a lot for 90g icing sugar??

    1. Don't forget you've got the cream cheese in there making it thick. See my response in comments section also (forgot to hit reply earlier).

  5. I have two tablespoons and so does my friend who also blogged this cake but why don't you try two teaspoons and go from there. The thickness of icing is a personal preference so if you like it with two teaspoons, by all means stick with that but if it doesn't seem spreadable enough, keep adding more juice.