Coriander seed—not the leafy part of the same plant known as cilantro— is not just for savory Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking. Taste a crunchy seed right from the jar and discover its delightfully bright, citrusy, floral flavor. You'll wonder, as I did, why it doesn't appear more regularly in Western baked goods.
Note: Whether you start with whole (best of all) or ground coriander, make sure it's fresh and within the best-by date. You can use ground seeds (untoasted) that you grind yourself or purchase ground, for both the batter and the topping, but my preference is for toasted spice in the batter and untoasted spice for the topping. For this, start with whole seeds. Toast those for the batter before grinding them, as follows: Put seeds in a dry skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat, shake the pan to roll the seeds around until they are slightly colored and fragrant—this takes just minute or two once the pan is hot. Skip the toasting step for the topping. Grind seeds in a mortar and pestle, or use a spice or coffee grinder. —Alice Medrich
Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. (If using a convection oven, adjust the temperature according to instructions with your oven and look for doneness early.) Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with baking spray that contains flour, or thoroughly grease and flour it.
Mix the buttermilk with the water and vanilla and set aside.
Mix the eggs and yolk together in a measuring pitcher and set it aside.
Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in bowl large enough to do this job thoroughly—whisking not only combines the ingredients, it fluffs up the flour so that it blends more easily into the batter which in turn prevents over mixing. Set this aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and ground coriander on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Very gradually pour the eggs into the bowl in a thin steady stream taking 1 to 1 1/2 minutes in total.
On low speed, starting and ending with the flour mixture, add the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in two additions. Scrape the bowl as necessary and mix only enough to incorporate each addition.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes before inverting it on a rack to finish cooling. To serve, mix ground coriander with powdered sugar and sift over the top.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).