So do you remember that Raspberry Buttermilk Cake? It was delicious but, tragically, all the raspberries sank to the bottom of the cake. Well, I asked for some tips for a way around this and friend told me this: dust the berries in flour and they won’t sink. So this was attempt number two…and it was a success! I mean, just look at how well-dispersed the berries are in this slice of cake.
I also decided to add an additional different flavor to this cake: cardamom. I have always loved the flavor of cardamom and I think the aroma is just intoxicating. It’s a very common spice in Indian dishes, used in sweets, biryanis, curries, or drinks. Personally, I love adding it to my chai. Lately, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate traditional Indian ingredients into my non-Indian cooking. And the flavor of cardamom seemed like it would be very compatible with this cake.
I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the potential medical benefits of cardamom. A study by Bhat et al used dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid, to induce these hepatomegaly, dyslipdemia, and hyperglycemia in rats.* These are some of the changes found in metabolic syndrome and are known to increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. The investigators studied the effects of pioglitzaone (and FDA-approved drug in diabetes management) and cardamom in reducing the changes caused by dexamethasone. And what they found is that not only does cardamom decrease all of these changes, but its effects are comparable to pioglitazone. Of course, the dose of cardamom which they used (1 g/kg in a 10 mL suspension) is much larger than what is used in normal cooking. But the findings are still promising. Maybe there’s a protective effect of using smaller amounts in everyday cooking?
Another interesting study that I found as I did a literature search was by Bhaswant et al.** This study also looked at the effects of cardamom on reducing metabolic syndrome. But there are two main differences in the study design: 1. the changes in the rats were brought on by diet rather than glucocorticoids and 2. the study looked at the difference between green and black cardamom. From their results, it seems that while black cardamom reduces the signs of metabolic syndrome, green cardamom actually increases fat, decreases liver function, and worsens cardiovascular function. Green cardamom does, however, decrease insulin and AST and ALT (liver enzymes). The study concludes that the major volatile component in black cardamom 1,8-cineole may improve metabolic syndrome.
I’ve gotta be honest, I had no idea that there was anything but green cardamom. We’ve never used anything else in the cooking in our home. And in this recipe, I actually used pre-seeded cardamom so I have no idea what color the pods were. I’m curious to find some black cardamom next time I’m at the Indian grocery store. If the flavors are similar, I might start using black cardamom in my cooking, instead of green.
- 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted + 1 tablespoon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
- Prepare 9-inch spring bottom cake tin by greasing the bottom of the tin with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with a circular piece of parchment paper and grease again with cooking spray.
- Cream together butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then add vanilla and egg, one at a time. Continue to whisk on high speed until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add flour and buttermilk in three batches to the butter mixture. Scrape sides of bowl as you mix.
- Toss blackberries in the extra tablespoon of flour.
- Pour batter into cake tin and sprinkle blackberries and pistachios over the cake.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin and separate the cake from the parchment paper.
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar.
I enjoyed my cake with a hot cup of chai. Of course, because I’d already added cardamom to the cake, I thought it might be a bit much to add it to my chai as I usually do. So regular chai and a delicious slice of cake…not a bad afternoon snack!
*Bhat, G. et al (2015). Comparison of the efficacy of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) with pioglitazone on dexamethasone-induced hepatic steatosis, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia in albino rats. J Adv Pharm Techno Res, 6(3), 136-140. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
**Bhaswant, M. et al (2015). Green and black cardamom in a diet-induced rat model of metabolic syndrome. Nutrients, 7, 7691-7707. Retrieved July 16, 2016.