Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Coffee Loaf with a Vanilla and Cardamom Syrup

Many thanks to Becky Thorn (http://mintcustard.wordpress.com/) for this idea. Despite not drinking coffee I really like coffee cake so it's nice to try it with something other than the usual buttercream or walnuts. I was a little worried about the cardamom syrup overpowering the delicate coffee sponge, but it actually provides a beautiful fragrant sweetness. However the best thing about this cake is by far it's simplicity. One of the easiest you'll ever make I promise!

Prep time: 10 Mins (Plus 15 Mins for the syrup)
Baking time: 45 Mins
2 rounded tsp Instant Coffee
3tbsp Boiling Water
175g Unsalted Butter (Plus extra for greasing)
175g Caster Sugar
3 Medium Eggs
175g Self Raising Flour

For the syrup
6 Cardamom pods
1 Vanilla Pod
100g Caster Sugar
200ml Water

Start by mixing together the instant coffee and boiling water in a small dish then leave to one side. When the coffee has cooled (It can be warm, just not hot) preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line the base of a 22cm loaf tin. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour in the coffee, mix it around then tip in the flour and do the same, until you are left with a smooth batter. Pour into your loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed from the middle. When you're happy, remove from the oven and leave in the tin.

Once you've taken your cake out you can start on the syrup. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods (you don't want the husks) and grind until you are left with a fine powder. You should be left with about half a teaspoon and you don't want any more than that. Split the vanilla pod in half and put it into a small saucepan with the ground cardamom, sugar and water. Bring it up to the boil and leave it bubbling away, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. By that time it should have reduced by at least two thirds and become syrupy, but if you're unsure definitely play it safe and take it off the heat anyway. It's not a big deal if the syrup is quite thin, but it will be a problem if it goes to far.

When the syrup is done carefully remove the cake from it's tin and place on a wire rack. Pierce the top all over with a sharp skewer then spoon over about half of the syrup. Leave it for five minutes to soak in, the spoon over the last of the syrup. You'll find that the syrup will thicken as it cools on top of the cake and become a sticky glaze. One final tip, it's probably worth placing the wire rack over a sheet of greaseproof or baking paper to catch any of the syrup dripping off of the cooling cake. Finished. See, I told you it was easy!

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