With the exception of the cardamom, more than likely you have all of the ingredients for this Cardamom Pecan Coffee Cake in your pantry and refrigerator. Although, as luck would have it, when I began assembling the ingredients for this cake I discovered there were more than a half dozen boxes of dark brown rather than light brown sugar in the cabinet. Apparently I must not be able to keep an accurate mental inventory of brown sugars in my head or somehow think there will be a shortage of dark brown sugar when I go shopping. When making the cake batter, alway remember to give your eggs and butter time to come to room temperature. I generally take them out of the refrigerator the night before baking. The resulting cake batter will be very thick, so a standing mixer with a paddle attachment makes it easier on your arms to prepare.
The nut filling in the original Moosewood Cafe cookbook called for only for a quarter cup of packed brown sugar, one tablespoon cinnamon and one half cup chopped nuts. However, in this version I used one cup of (toasted) pecans, a combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar, some melted butter, cinnamon and kosher salt. I used almost four tablespoons of melted butter, however, would recommend scaling this back to 2 or 3 tablespoons. You want just enough to bind these ingredients together. Feel free to use walnuts instead of pecans, but you will definitely want the full tablespoon of cinnamon in this filling.
There are two recommended pan options for this Cardamom Pecan Coffee Cake: a tube pan or a bundt pan. Considering this is such a dense cake, I would strongly recommend the use of a (10 inch non-stick) tube pan to ensure evenness in baking. By adding a glaze to this coffee cake (and/or some additional chopped nuts or edible flowers on top) it will be so 'dressed up' you might not even miss the 'bundt' cake look.
This is not one of those coffee cakes that everyone will eat just because it's there. Rather it's one your family and friends will be hoping you make.
Cardamom Pecan Coffee Cake (an adaptation of the Cardamom Coffee Cake recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook and the Food and Wine recipe for Cardamom-Spiced Coffee Cake)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
16 ounces sour cream
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground cardamom (Note: The original recipe called for 1 1/2 teaspoons of cardamom, but I loved the flavor imparted by the full tablespoon. Feel free to use an amount as little as 1 1/2 teaspoons or as much a 1 Tablespoon)
1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
2-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup confectionary sugar, sifted
4 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Prepare a 10" bundt pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
2. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk until blended. Set aside.
3. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 3-4 minutes).
4. Add eggs, one a time, beating until incorporated.
5. Mix in vanilla.
6. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with the flour to the batter. Do not over mix. Batter will be very thick.
Note: There will be 3 additions of flour and 2 addition of the sour cream.
1. In a small bowl, mix together the pecans, brown sugar, sugar, butter and salt until blended. Set aside.
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted confectionary sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Note: If glaze is too thin, add a little more confectionary sugar. Conversely if it is too thick, add a little more milk. Set aside.
1. Spoon one-third of the batter into prepared pan. Smooth slightly.
2. Sprinkle one-half of the pecan filling over the batter.
3. Spoon another one-third of the batter over the pecan filling.
4. Sprinkle remaining one-half of the pecan filling over the batter.
5. Finish with remaining batter, smoothing out surface with an offset spatula.
6. Bake for 70-90 minutes or until brown on top and a tester comes out dry when inserted all the way through the cake.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
8. Invert pan onto cake plate or platter. Allow to set another 20-30 minutes before pouring on the glaze.
9. Drizzle glaze over the top and sides of the cake.
10. Cut into slices and serve. Cover cake with plastic wrap to keep fresh.
Notes: Cake can be made a day ahead. Will keep for 3-4 days if tightly wrapped. Feel free to double the amount of glaze, particularly if you like a heavily glazed cake.
One typical photo and one a slight departure, both taken on the streets of Tombstone, Arizona (2016)