For years I’ve had a tradition of making my own birthday cake, and trying out something a little special or complicated that I wouldn’t normally tackle. This year, though, was a somewhat strange birthday for me, in both good and bad ways.
It was my 35th birthday, and I’d planned an epic solo trip to Turkey, so I spent my actual birthday watching the sun rise over the Mediterranean on a boat, sipping sweet hot black tea. But then a few days before I left on my trip, my beautiful sweet kitty had some major health issues and very suddenly passed away, leaving me and her brother in shock and not sure what to do with ourselves.
So when I got back into the country a couple days after my birthday, I questioned whether it was worth going to the hassle of making something. While the trip was absolutely amazing, I was tired and sad, and having to deal with trying to get caught up on work things and get used to this new Dobby-less life we were now living. But ultimately I decided that tradition is tradition, and DOGONNIT we were going to make a birthday cake.
But I hadn’t gone grocery shopping or anything, or planned ahead, so the big question was what could I make that was special and unique, but used ingredients I already had in the house. After poring through Pinterest, this coffee cardamom cake with bulletproof frosting kept pulling at me, so I decided to tackle it. I love anything coffee, and the addition of a warm cardamom spice was intriguing.
One thing that caught me by surprise is how delicious the actual cake batter was…it is maybe the best-tasting cake batter I’ve ever tried! I ended up licking the bowl, beaters, rubber spatula, and my fingers clean to get every drop. I came close to just eating the batter with a spoon rather than baking it. I also kept up the tradition of making super ugly but delicious cakes—I try so hard to get better at decorating, but I just don’t know that I have it in me.
One great thing is you don’t need to use a stand mixer for the cake batter. Just stirring or whisking together is totally fine. You will want an electric or stand mixer for the frosting. This got rave reviews at work…and also lots of confused “what’s bulletproof frosting??” comments 🙂 If you’re not familiar with bulletproof coffee, just think of this as coffee frosting.
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease two 8-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together the wet ingredients, then whisk in the dry ingredients.
Pour into the two cake pans you’ve prepared. Make sure you taste the batter, because it is DELICIOUS and I’d hate for you to miss out. One thing to think about is taking precautions against having your cakes bake with a dome. I knew it was a risk but I was in a hurry, and I had major domes (which impacted the decorating). Here is a great article on ways you can prevent cake doming.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes, but it was closer to 35 for me.
Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn the cakes onto a lightly greased cooling rack.
Beat the frosting ingredients together in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer until smooth.
Once the cakes are fully cooled, place one on a cake board then spread a thick layer of frosting on top.
Place the other layer on top of that and then use an offset spatula to spread the rest of the cake smoothly all over. Hahahah I am LITERALLY the worst at this. Sadly this is basically the best any cake of mine has looked, so this cake is progress.
You can decorate however you’d like. I’d planned to save a bit of frosting back and add some melted chocolate, then use that for the piping…but honestly I was super tired and ready to head to bed at this point, so I stayed with the coffee frosting.
The coffee cardamom cake’s crumb is moist and lovely, and the flavors rich but still quite subtle. The bulletproof frosting is kind of a coffee/sugar punch in the face by comparison…that’s not bad, it’s just possibly a bit much for someone like me who’s not a big frosting person anyway. I would go a bit lighter on the frosting in the future, or actually would love to play around with a glaze or drizzle instead with this delicious cake.
Overall I was really intrigued by the flavor combination in this cake and definitely plan to make it again. I love the idea of finding a different topping option that takes the sweetness down just a bit and lets the complex but subtle cake flavors shine through. If you have a recommendation for a complementary glaze or syrup, hit me up in the comments!
Other delicious birthday cake successes:
- Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
- Russian Burnt Honey Cake
- Red Wine Chocolate Cake
- Caramelized White Chocolate & Coffee Tarts
- Vanilla Coke Spice Cake with Salted Peanut Frosting,
- Lemon Elderflower Cake with Strawberry Jam
- “Elvis” Banana, Salted Honey, & Peanut Butter Cream Puffs
Coffee Cardamom Cake with Bulletproof Frosting
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 1/2 cup of oil, like canola
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup of strong coffee, cold or at room temp
- 1 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
- 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon of instant espresso dissolved in 2 tablespoon of water
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of cardamom
- Preheat oven to 350 F and grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.
- In a large bowl, stir together the wet ingredients, then whisk in the dry ingredients.
- Pour into the two cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes, but it was closer to 35 for me.
- Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn the cakes onto a lightly greased cooling rack.
- Beat the frosting ingredients together in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer until smooth. Once the cakes are fully cooled, place one on a cake board then spread a thick layer of frosting on top. Place the other layer on top of that and then use an offset spatula to spread the rest of the cake smoothly all over. Decorate as you see fit.
Adapted slightly from My Name is Yeh
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