Cardamom Crumb Cake

December 17, 2012

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Every day till Christmas, we're bringing you 12 Days of Baking: 12 all-new baking recipes to lift holiday spirits -- from breakfast pastries to dinner rolls, and all the desserts you can handle.

Cardamom Crumb Cake

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For a parent, life is a series of anxious separations. The first comes when the nurses take the baby to the nursery, and you irrationally wonder if they will remember to bring her back to your room for a feeding, or forget her among the other squalling newborns. 

Later comes that first time someone other than you takes the baby for a stroll, then that moment when a hand falls away in Trader Joe’s and a six year old disappears for two terrifying minutes behind a rack of granola bars, and later still, when a teenager heads out with friends into the dark.  

There are trips on buses, those taken alone on planes, and your heart pounds quietly as the aircraft taxies down the runway, knowing you’ve lost control and that really, you never had at all. 

But the one time parents rarely feel this panic is when they leave a child at school. Just as the airplane is a safe mode of transportation rendered unreasonably menacing when it carries away your child, school is where perhaps undue trust is usually placed, in large part because of the people within them who have forsaken money, power and influence to comfort, educate and protect small beings. 

If there is a teacher in your life that you love or appreciate, and you are in the need to bake as distraction, please consider making them Dorie Greenspan’s coffee cake today.

If you do not know a teacher, but want to give thanks to someone who has been good to you this year, consider this lovely cake instead of cookies. 

Dorie Greenspan needs no editing, and I will offer none other than to say that you can make the orange sugar in a separate bowl so as to avoid pouring the topping onto wax paper, and that you may omit the nuts if you don’t care for them. 

Food does not give comfort where none can come, but it can provide a token of gratitude to others, a binder of sorts to the universe whose rhythms and meanings at times we cannot possess. 

Cardamom Crumb Cake by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 8 servings 

For the Crumbs: 

1/2 cup all-purpose 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
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose 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
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.


Photo by James Ransom

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Lizthechef December 17, 2012
In Russia, teachers are paid a higher salary than are physicians. This time, they have it right. As a retired psychotherapist for children and their families, the most important thing we can all do is to hold our families close. Cooking is my favorite way to pull in my loved ones. Thanks, Jenny/jestei
courtneycarlson December 17, 2012
Exactly right on.
healthierkitchen December 17, 2012
calendargirl is right - so well said and so simply. I love the elegance of your last paragraph. It really resonates.
calendargirl December 17, 2012
Eloquent, thank you.