Wanna feel young?
Spend a week in a retirement community near Boca Raton with your 86-year-old father-in-law. When he starts a sentence with “Back when I was in my 60s…” you will be like “OMG I have so much time ahead of me. What was I thinking?”
If possible, time your visit to occur during one of your hometown’s coldest winters on record. When you open your father-in-law’s front door and find you can greet The Elements with a breezy smile as opposed to a left hook to the jaw you will feel like that guy who discovered the fountain of youth. I really shouldn’t assume it was a guy. Or even real.
Anyway, our time in Florida was a welcome break from the evil voice in my head that keeps telling me I’m finished. Washed up. Over the hill. Some of that good feeling has even held over since our return. Which makes me wish I knew more old people. Truly old people with vibrant, rich lives. You know that saying, “you can’t be what you can’t see?” I feel like I don’t know how to be old. Butif I had more relationships with older people in my daily life, I’d have a more complete understanding of the arc of a lifetime. I would trust that maybe everything isn’t now now now. Maybe later exists. And maybe it can be good. One night my father-in-law told us that if he won the lottery tomorrow he would put it in the bank and not change a thing about his life. It must be extraordinary to be 86 (or any age for that matter) and feel like you nailed it. The whole life thing. You did it. You did your life. And continue to do it.
I flew home from Florida feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. So, naturally, I started thinking about cardamom. I fell in love with cardamom at one of our local watering holes in Brooklyn. They had this cocktail called a Pas de Deux, a delectable infusion of prosecco, Lillet, a sugar cube and a cardamom pod. I liked to believe they named it the Pas de Deux because that sugar cube and cardamom pod would engage in a sexy, intimate dance amidst the prosecco bubbles on the glass floor of the champagne flute. Just beautiful.
It dawned on me that I’d never had a dish in which cardamom was the main flavor. I’d enjoyed it’s talents as part of an ensemble of spices but never witnessed its moment in the spotlight. And that seemed like a shame. I was thinking about how delicious it would be in a cake. A quick Google search pulled up a wonderful recipe from The Spice Spoon for Cardamom Tea Cake. The fact that the cake is traditionally served warm AND with tea sealed the deal because by this time we were back in the frozen tundra that is Brooklyn and tea was seeming like an absolute necessity. Daily, if not hourly.
I wanted to eat this cake so badly I even did math (converting from grams to cups, etc.) It was a major hit in my home. All four of us enjoyed it equally. Very, very rare. So I asked Shayma from The Spice Spoon for permisssion to reprint it here with american measurements and she agreed. Thank you, Shayma!
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 stick + 2 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 5 1/2 oz full fat sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 8 cardamom pods
INSTRUCTIONS (as per The Spice Spoon)
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a medium loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Sift and set aside.
- Remove cardamom seeds from their pods. Discard pods. Crush seeds in a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, wrap the seeds in a newspaper and crush with a rolling pin (or the base of your frying pan). The seeds should not be crushed to a dust. The result should look like freshly cracked pepper. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy (my Kitchenaid Professional mixer is not optimal for creaming butter and sugar in small batches, many others feel the same way; I use a hand mixer).
- Add vanilla extract and sour cream and continue mixing till incorporated.
- Add eggs one by one; mix well.
- In batches, by hand (not using a hand mixer), gently fold in the flour, salt and baking powder mixture and cardamom seeds. Take care not to overmix the batter.
- Transfer into lined loaf tin and place in the middle of the oven for 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester/skewer/toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Don’t wait till the cake cools down, this is lovely when it is hot out of the oven. It will break and crumble a bit, but it is delicious.
I will only add this: serve with Earl Grey tea. If you like Earl Grey tea, of course.