April 24, 2014

Cardamom Bundt Cake with Rose Water Buttercream

Two small children and pricy airline tickets means we don't visit family as often as we'd like. We miss holidays and birthday parties, anniversaries and lazy summer barbecues. Sometimes it's hard to know the family is somewhere celebrating without you, though it's hardest when they are hurting and you are stuck thousands of miles away.

The flip side to this is that most of our friends are in the same situation and so friends really do become your local family. This assignment in particular, perhaps because the location is so remote, has given us friendships that will last a lifetime. These are the people I call when a kid is throwing up and I need crackers and paper towels from the store. Our children are unofficial cousins, who play and fight and love just like family.

We celebrate like family too. We haven't made it home for Easter the last few years and so we created our own tradition. The first year, as we reminisced about how much we missed Indian food, we decided to all try to recreate a favorite Indian dish and have a huge potluck. Sushi was next and this year we decided to do all Greek or Mediterranean food. The group is always slightly different, people move or deploy and some decide to travel after all. This was our last Easter in Altus though, and it made me so happy to look around my kitchen and see it filled with some of my favorite people. I haven't quite come to terms with the idea that after this summer it will be an airplane ride to see this "family" instead. There is always a touch of the bittersweet to this Air Force life of ours.

This was the dessert I chose to make for our gathering. No, it's not really Greek. Even mediterranean is a stretch, but it had that touch of the exotic that I was going for. The cardamom was a delicate flavor the first day and intensified over time. This is definitely a dessert that could be made ahead and only improve over time. Rosewater is one of those ingredients best used sparingly. It imparts more of a scent than a flavor, and I think that each part of this cake could stand on it's own with a more simple setting. The buttercream would be divine on a chocolate cupcake, and the cake could be just as delicious with a simple vanilla bean glaze. The two in combination are just a tiny bit more sophisticated and it was just right for our feast.

Cardamom cake
adapted from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Kiss My Bundt

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
3 eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven and prep bundt pan by spraying it with non-stick spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric hand mixer) beat the butter. Once it has lightened in color and become creamy, add the sugar and the cardamom. Beat for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for one minute in between additions.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter, then half the milk. Repeat this another time, ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. (So it would look like this: Flour mix, milk, flour mix, milk, flour mix.)
Pour batter into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out cleanly.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert on a cooling rack and remove the pan. Let cake cool completely before frosting.

Rosewater Buttercream frosting
adapted from Joy the Baker cookbook

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp milk
1 tsp rose water
pinch of salt

Beat the butter in a stand mixer (or with electric hand mixer). Add sugar and beat on low to combine. Add milk slowly to reach your desired consistency-start with 2 tablespoons and add each additional tablespoon as needed. Finally add in the rose water and salt and beat for 2 minutes until the frosting is nice and fluffy.

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