Baking & Dessert

By Joanne Bruno | August 20, 2012

When you work closely with two Europeans, you learn a lot about their perspectives on food. (Especially given that you probe them about it. Constantly.)

They embrace butter and Nutella as if it were sent straight from the heavens. Eat meals that are 3 parts vegetable to one part protein. Have a deep appreciation for the quality of the food they ingest. Needless to say, when we talk about food, I spend a lot of time nodding in agreement. Except when it comes to cinnamon. In America, we use this spice so liberally from the day we are born that we are inured to its strong spicy flavor. To us, it tastes sweet and warm while to Europeans, it’s an unwelcome kick in the taste buds unless eaten in very small amounts.

Cardamom, on the other hand, is much more palatable and so when I brought in this cake to work and informed them that it was spiced with the former and not the latter, the relief that swept the room was almost audible. They dove right in and so did I, because even though I am a card-carrying cinnamon fanatic, this crumb cake and its cardamom infusion was delicious nonetheless.

Joanne Bruno is a food writer and third year MD/PhD student. Find more of her delicious ramblings over at her blog: Eats Well With Others.

Cardamom Crumb Cake Recipe

Servings: 8
Calories: 422 per serving
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 35
Total Time: 50


For the crumbs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts,coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter , cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
For the cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Makes 8 servings, adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours"

1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with four and tap out the excess.
2. To make the crumbs, put all the ingredients except the butter, in a bowl and toss them together with a spatula just to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers, mix everything together until there are crumbs of all different sizes. Set the crumbs aside.
3. To make the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar.
4. Put the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract in another bowl and whisk to blend. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to mix until batter is just evenly moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top in a thick layer. Pat the crumbs gently into the batter.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake has risen, the crumbs are golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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