If you can, this cake is a good excuse to break out your spice grinder and grind your own cardamom. Do be sure to use green cardamom pods as their seeds have a much brighter flavor. It will sink a little in the middle a little—that’s OK. Dust a little more sugar over the top and embrace it.
20 green cardamom pods (yielding 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup superfine sugar
8 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups crème fraîche
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup pistachios
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
2. Split the green cardamom pods open, remove the seeds and grind with a (clean) coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and ground cardamom seeds together in a small bowl and set aside. Pour the sugar into a medium-sized bowl.
3. Warm the butter in a small saucepan until just melted. Pour the butter into the sugar and whisk until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the crème fraîche and whisk until you have a creamy batter. Add the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, folding it in carefully with a wooden spoon.
4. Grind pistachios in a food processor (or with a mortar and pestle) until fine and crumbly. Add pistachios and orange zest to batter and fold in to combine. The mixture can seem quite sticky at this point—don’t overmix.
5. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back slightly when touched. The middle should still seem a bit soft to the touch. All to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
6. To serve, sift confectioners sugar over the top of the cake and slice generously. This cake is a champion, and will keep for 5 days in an airtight container.
If you don’t have crème fraîche at home or would rather not buy it (it can be expensive) you can make your own by adding 2 tablespoons buttermilk into ½ cup of cream. Let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. If it hasn’t firmed up, place it in the refrigerator and you should have crème fraîche in no time. Alternatively, I think the recipe could be successful with full-fat Greek yogurt.