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.