Here in Southern California the stone fruits have arrived. I know that must make those of you who are still suffering from a cold and schizophrenic spring, green with envy. A few weeks ago we got cherries and apricots, and now come peaches and nectarines. For whatever reason, perhaps their great thirst in our terrible drought, they are sweet, juicy and amazing.
We start by just eating them, a bit greedily, out of hand while sticky juice runs down our chins. Later in the season we decide that we need to bake them into crisps and pies, and pile them on a soft bed of pound cake with a blanket of sweet whipped cream. Later still we make them into jams and preserves.
It is what summer is all about. And summer is (almost?) upon us.
Yesterday, for whatever reason, I was craving cardamom– its scent and taste are so intoxicating. Cardamom is citrusy and exotic smelling, with a subtle undertone of heat. Indians use it in many of their savory dishes. And Scandinavians use it in their baked goods.
I baked it into a tender pound cake that was laced with vanilla beans and topped with crunchy sliced almonds. We ate it for dessert, topped with creme fraiche whipped cream and sliced apricots.
It was perfect. Summer on our plate.
- 1½ sticks of softened butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons of Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract 'Crush' or the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups (or 260 grams) gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend already contains it)
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup creme fraiche
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup creme fraiche
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Extract 'Crush'
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a standard loaf pan with gluten-free cooking spray. Line the pan with a layer of parchment that goes up the sides and drapes over a bit. Spray again with cooking spray and set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 5 minutes, until it is pale, light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the vanilla bean extract.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom, xanthan, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture (while beating on low), alternately with the creme fraiche and milk.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly incorporated and pour into prepared pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly onto the cake.
- Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to finish cooling on a rack.
- To serve, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, creme fraiche and vanilla and beat until combined. Serve the cake with sliced fruit and the creme fraiche whipped cream.