Thursday, January 7, 2010

Make New Friends With This Cake

It's funny, the thoughts that go through your head in the last month of pregnancy. Somewhere in your second trimester, you start to get excited and impatient about the arrival of the baby, like you just can't wait for the big day. But then the third trimester creeps up, and strange things start happening with your hormones once again. For instance, one day I'll be so ready to get this baby out and into the world. But the next day, I'll be silently praying to keep it in for just a wee bit longer, because I'm just not mentally ready to have my life change so drastically! And so it goes, back n forth back n forth, till I suppose one day the baby decides to take matters into his/her own tiny hands. Until then, I can only pretend to have a smidgen of control. Thank goodness for the website, where they send me reminders each week about what I need to do - like getting my hospital bag together sooner rather than later. Of course, being me, I zeroed in on the one thing I needed to pack that's probably at the very bottom of every practical mom's list - snacks. Yup, somehow I managed to spend more time thinking about what snacks I need to take to the hospital with me, rather than saaaaaayy, things like deodorant and baby clothes. *shaking my head* - Aren't I gonna make a fabulous mom?!

But it is a good thing for you, my dear readers. Because out of that oh-so-serious contemplation came this cake. One look at the ingredients, and you know it's going to be sublime. I've made this recipe a few times already, so I know for a fact that you just won't go wrong with it. My diabolical plan is to make this a few days ahead of my delivery, so that I can take it to the hospital with me, and use it to make friends with all the labor nurses and doctors. It might make them more sympathetic to my pathetic pleas for more painkillers. Or when I call them 10 times in the middle of the night to help me change my own baby's diaper because it's something I've never done, ever! This cake has power, folks, and I intend to wield it shamelessly to get what I want from that hospital staff.

Pistachio and Cardamom Pound Cake (from Suvir Saran's cookbook American Masala - the original recipe calls for making a lemon icing, but I found that unnecessary, so I've left it out)
Makes 1 loaf

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup raw, shelled pistachios
1 stick plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place pistachios on a baking sheet and toast till fragrant in the oven, about 5 mins. Cool and then pulse in a food processor till they're very fine (don't over-process or you'll end up with pistachio butter, which may sound yummy but it's not what you need here!). Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.

2. Grease an 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan with 1/2 tbsp of butter. Line the bottom with a long strip of parchment paper, with overhanging sides that you can use to later remove the cake from the pan. Grease the top of the parchment with another 1/2 tbsp of butter and set aside.

3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt together. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, whisk in the vanilla, and set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter and sugar until they are light and airy. Drizzle in the egg mixture a little at a time, while the machine is running, and scraping down the bowl in between if necessary.
5. Alternate adding the flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour, and mixing until the batter is just combined. Fold the pistachios into the batter with a spatula.

6. Transfer batter to the loaf pan. Bake for about 45 mins, or until a cake tester inserted into the cake's center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 mins. Then take it out and put it on a cooling rack for another hour. Slice and serve as is, or with tea or coffee. Wrap the rest up in saran wrap or place in an airtight container - stores really well like this for several days.
Verdict: So very very moist, that it melts in your mouth. The flavor is just out of this world - it made me fall in love with pistachios in a whole new way. And having that one teeny tiny teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom in there makes a phenomenal difference. The first time I made this, I tried it with the lemon icing, but felt that it distracted from the main flavors of this cake - so now I just skip it. Makes for a wonderful snack with high tea, or a comforting bite while you're watching The Ellen Degeneres Show in the afternoon and cursing yourself for not entering her 12-Days-Of-Christmas sweepstakes! Or do what I plan to do the next time I make this - share and make new friends with it.

The inside of this cake is this gorgeous shade of pale green, flecked with cardamom. Just the smell of this stuff will hypnotize you, folks!


Mary said...

This sounds fantastic! I love cardamom, and pistachios are pretty amazing too. I think you could make friends anywhere with this cake. Congratulations on your soon-to-arrive bundle of joy! Don't worry--diaper-changing is easy, and you'll get plenty of practice!

Ann said...

Oh My - I've made the EXACT same cake and posted about it too - though the recipe I used was from a Gourmet 2001 issue, simultaneously in a book we read for our book club. I remember this being such an intoxicating cake...ohh..the flavors...but oh no...the Butterrrrrrr....
You would be very well advised to take this into the hospital with you, I still remember hospital food as leaving a LOT to be desired! =)
Happy thoughts as you near your dd....

Scate said...

This looks great! i made cardamom pistachio cookies for the holidays - and fell in love with the combination. Never thought about it in pound cake - genius! Thanks for sharing!

Mona said...

Looks yummy Muneeba!

Raje said...

Love the spice and nut combination in these cookies. Congratulations!

Foodiewife said...

I am lovin' that bright orange Kitchen Aid! I am having a secret love affair with pistachios. I just snapped, and now I crave them. What a great snack cake! Tick-tock...the time is coming closer, eh? Somehow, when the big moment comes, you get through it and the mommy instinct is right there!

Mari said...

Your baby is going to be so lucky! I can imagine all they yummy things you will make for them as they grow up lol

Doppelganger said...

The cake looks so incredibly moist! And the pictures are gorgeous! Love the juxtaposition of the book and the cake on the plate; just making that connection, you know. Kind of reiterating the fact that this recipe, easy to follow, will indeed, turn out looking this amazing and tasting wonderful too, I'm sure!

And just on a side note, while you're busy spreading the joy amongst the nursing staff before your delivery (great idea!!), don't forget a piece for DH. He could be in for a long wait with you and no food in sight! I was lazy and so only packed bananas for my husband. Hehe.

Finla said...

Beautiful and delcious, i can imagine the aroma when it is baking and while eating them too.

shahana said...

Wow!! looks really delicious!!!excellent click too

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, this cake sounds outstanding with pistachios and cardamom! What a terrific combination!

The Food Hunter said...

I'll take a slice...sounds delicious.

Faith said...

What a wonderful cake! I bet pistachios and cardamom pair perfectly. Lol, pistachio butter actually does sound pretty delish too! :)

NKP said...

Delicious! I have this book but haven't cooked from it yet.
Snacks are actually a good idea. I always managed to have babies during food hours and miss out on meals. I swear they try to starve you.
I also found that sucking on things - lifesavers, tic tacs, popsicles (ok, maybe too cold) really helped me during the beginning of labour. You might want to stock up. If you don't end up wanting them.. it's not like they go bad!

nandini.p said...

WOw that cake looks super good!.. was waiting for the recipe since ur last post. It sounds and looks like something that i can put together.Shall try soon and let u know!.

Kerstin said...

I love this flavor combo and would gobble it right up! Cardamom is one of my favorite spices to add to baked goods.