Make Ahead

Janet's Cardamom Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

January 31, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 10-12
Author Notes

My grandmother, Janet, got this recipe from an innkeeper in Stowe, Vermont in the 50s, and my family has made it ever since. In the original recipe, the cake is served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar, but my mother modified it by adding a rich brown sugar icing. It's the perfect winter celebratory cake! - HMC —HMC

Test Kitchen Notes

The batter says a lot about the cake. This one really spoke to me. It is rich, fragrant and makes licking the spoon a sensory treat. The cake in its baked form does not betray the batter’s foreshadowing of a dense, heady, sour-cream coffee cake-like crumb. Don’t skip the brown sugar frosting, which forms a caramelized coating reminiscent of a hard-shell dip on a soft-serve ice cream cone and adds a great contrasting texture. —cheese1227

What You'll Need
  • for the cardamom cake
  • 1 cup butter, softened slightly
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom seed
  • 8 ounces sour cream (regular, not non-fat)
  • for the brown sugar icing
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 F and butter and flour a bundt cake pan or tube pan. Cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.
  2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom in a small bowl.
  4. Add sour cream to the butter/egg/sugar mixture, then add flour mixture and gently fold wet and dry ingredients together until blended.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes at 275 F, then turn up the oven to 300 F for another 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake!
  6. Remove pan from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Invert onto a rack to cool.
  7. For the icing, heat brown sugar, cream, and butter in a heavy saucepan until the mixture reaches a rolling boil, stirring all the while.
  8. Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla and then sift in the confectioner's sugar and stir with a whisk to remove any remaining clumps.
  9. Pour icing onto the completely cooled cake, allowing it to run down the sides freely. The icing will harden quickly, so pour it steadily while moving the pan in a circle to cover the whole top. Allow icing to harden for at least half an hour before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Greenstuff
  • cheese1227
  • Jessie G
    Jessie G
  • HMC

4 Reviews

Jessie G. March 30, 2011
i liked this cake -- but it was a little too dry....Wondering if I could substitute oil for the butter.....also, I added extra cardamon -- bc I love the flavor of cardamon....but it made it not very popular with my kids!
Greenstuff February 17, 2011
I agree. Can you tell us anymore about the unusual baking temperature? Congrats on the EP!
HMC February 18, 2011
Thanks! I'm not really sure what the reasoning is behind that low oven temperature--I guess the idea is to to keep the cake moist and dense by cooking it slowly (for an hour) at a low temp...
cheese1227 February 10, 2011
Never baked a cake at 275 before. Can't wait to try this new technique.