Cardamom Coffee Cake

cardamom coffee cake


Raise your hand if your mom had the Moosewood Cookbook when you were growing up!


I loved looking at all the illustrations and wondering about all the ingredients Mollie Katzen used. I guess this note from my aunt says it best:


My favorite thing to make out of it were the popovers, because they were so dead easy. My mom’s favorite thing was the zucchini pizza. It took me a long time to love that pizza. Usually I would groan when I learned that that’s what we were having for dinner. But I grew to like it as I got older – especially having the leftovers on a sandwich.  I can’t wait show you my own version of it once summer rolls around! I don’t usually buy zucchini the rest of the year because of how crazy plentiful it is in the summer.

The original version of this cake has two cups of butter, two cups of sour cream, and four eggs. I know Mollie is a genius and all, but there is no way that I would be happy with myself after eating all that. I probably wouldn’t even be able to move, much less run. I might not even be able to go to work because I wouldn’t be able to put on pants. Pantless employees are generally frowned upon.

I made a thick pear sauce to substitute both the butter and sour cream.  I didn’t eliminate the fat completely, but I did cut it down to 1/4 cup of coconut oil, plus what’s in the almond flour topping. This version is vegan and gluten-free, but it still came out awesome. It’s rich and satisfying and perfect with a cold glass of almond milk.


What are your favorite Moosewood recipes?

MK's Lightened-Up Cardamom Coffee Cake


  • 6 Anjou pears, peeled, sliced, and cored
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp freshly-ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur GF mix*
  • 1 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill BF mix*
  • for the topping
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fine almond meal


  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.
  3. Once the brown sugar is completely integrated into the coconut oil, add the pears.
  4. Stir the pears so they are completely coated in the sugar mixture.
  5. Cover the pan and let the pears cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender.
  7. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 50 minutes, stirring very occasionally. Use a splash guard if you have one.
  8. Remove from heat and puree again. Now you should have about 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups of sauce.
  9. Allow the sauce to cool completely before continuing.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350
  11. Combine two cups of the cooled sauce, the vanilla, the flax, and the almond milk. Reserve the rest of the sauce because you'll use it later in the recipe. Set aside.
  12. Comine the flours, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  13. Mix the wet and dry ingredients. Set aside.
  14. Mix the cinnamon, brown sugar, and almond meal.
  15. Grease two 9 - inch cake pans.
  16. Divide the almond-meal topping evenly between the pans, making sure that the bottom of each pan is fully covered.
  17. Spoon the batter into the pans. You may have to spread it a little. If you do it gently enough, you won't disturb the crumb below. And even if some crumb does get mixed in, don't worry - who doesn't love a surprise bite of crumb?
  18. Bake for 25-30 min, or until it springs back and an inserted fork comes out clean.
  19. Let the layers cool a little bit and then turn them out of the pans.
  20. Let them cool a lot more.
  21. Take the remainder of the pear sauce and spread it over the top of one of the layers. Because the topping is made from almond flour, it binds to itself rather well. Spreading the pear cause on won't disturb it, as long as you use a light hand.
  22. Stack the cakes.
  23. Serve with a cold glass of milk.


*I used two brand flours because I'm experimenting with commercial blends before attempting my own -- which will be a whole lot cheaper. If you have your own personal blend that you like, use that. The main ingredient in KAF is a rice flour blend, and the main in Bob's is chickpea flour.



Cajeta Cardamom Chocolate Donuts

cajeta cardamom donuts gluten free

Yikes. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? So are these.

I’d been wanting a donut pan for a while, but last Friday sent me over the edge. So many people had lovely amazing donuts! I wanted them all. The moment I got off of work, I drove right over to Michaels to pick one up. My co-worker was asked me why I was rushing out the door and I was all “ahhh I gotta go buy a donut pan!”

I’d made a batch of Rick Bayless’ cajeta last week too, without any real plans for it. You don’t have to make your own cajeta for these, but it does enhance the flavor. Rick recipe calls for one cinnamon stick, but I used twice that and got great results. But if you are short on time (cajeta is no quick caramel sauce, it’s a labor of love), you can just pick up a jar at the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store or at the Mexican grocery.

cardamom cajeta donuts gluten free

If you’re not familiar with cajeta, it’s a deep, rich, very thick caramel made from goat’s milk. It’s sort of like dulce de leche, but dulce de leche is from cow’s milk. Often, dulce will be reduced even more from its caramel state to become a solid fudge.

cardamom cajeta donuts gluten free

BGE was hovering over me the hole – er, whole – time I was making these. He got mighty pouty when I told him he couldn’t have them until they were frosted and photographed. He started referring to the blog as a person. “Oh the blog is hungry! The blog’s gotta be fed! None for poor me.”

I rolled my eyes and told him he could have all of them as soon as I took the pictures. Then I made him a chicken sandwich and he did a little dance in the living room.


Cajeta Cardamom Chocolate Donuts


    for the donuts:
  • 1 cup of gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweet almond milk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp homemade or store bought cajeta (warmed till a just-pourable consistency BEFORE measuring)
  • for the topping
  • 1/4 cup cajeta
  • chopped nuts ( I used pistachios to mimic the green of a cardamom pod)
  • 4 oz of dark chocolate
  • -OR-
  • 2 oz of dark chocolate plus 2 oz of Mexican chocolate (the chocolate pucks with the granny on them) plus 1 tsp coconut oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Combine flour, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Sift together.
  3. In a food processor, combine the cajeta, the almond milk, extract, and banana. You may have to scrape the cajeta down a little bit if it's sticking to the sides.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix well.
  5. Scoop the batter into a pastry bag and pipe into a greased donut pan. Fill about 3/4 of the way up.
  6. Bake for 10-12 min.
  7. Turn out the donuts out of the pan and let them cool.
  8. While the donuts are cooling, work on the topping.
  9. For the cajeta topping, place the uncovered jar of cajeta in a water bath over medium heat. Spread the cajeta on the donuts or pour it into a shallow dish so you can dip them. Chop up a little more chocolate and sprinkle it onto the cajeta topping, along with some nuts.
  10. For the chocolate topping, melt all the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Then dip your donuts in, sprinkle on more nuts, and you're done!

adapted from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats