Cardamom Coffee Cake

A Near-Perfect Post-Saturday Run Snack!

offee cake…it was always a treat in our household. My Mom only made it on special occasions, but when she did, it seemed like it was always gone in a flash! Over the past few months, every now and again I’d all of a sudden crave coffee cake. Fortunately, it takes time to bake, so I never actually followed through with my cravings and let it go…That was until this week…

What can I say about the past week? It’s certainly had it’s ups and downs, but honestly the ups were so wonderful I’m already forgetting about the downs!

My group at work is coming up on major deadline at the end of March to present for a major review. I (obviously) can’t go into the details, but we’re all stressed out and it will only get worse until April. I think I’m doing a good job in keeping my cool, but it’s in part because I’ve been able to heal and strengthen my body enough that I’m able to pursue my stress-reducing activities pretty much pain-free.

I’ve settled into a comfortable fitness schedule which promotes a lot of cross training:

Monday – ~0.5 mi warm-up/strength training/stretching/rolling

Tuesday – ~0.5 mi warm-up/pilates/stretching/rolling

Wednesday – ~0.5 mi warm-up/rolling/hatha yoga/climbing

Thursday – ~0.5 mi warm-up/strength training/stretching/rolling

Friday – rest

Saturday – long run

Sunday – climbing (until the really long runs start)

I’ve also decided that if I’m not having fun, by all means stop! I need to keep in mind that in order to keep my mind happy, I need to keep my body happy. If my body isn’t happy then my mind won’t be happy. If my body and mind aren’t happy, people around me get the brunt of unhappy Stef, which nobody wants (especially my husband, he normally gets the brunt of it…)!

However, the biggest up of the week was all day Saturday where I enjoyed wonderful food, including baking cardamom coffee cake (shown above) and a blissful visit to the Lemon Tree’s new outpost in the Midtown area of Houston. I also got in my first pain-free 4 mile run since before all of my injuries!

There’s nothing quite like being at the end of a 4 mile run and being grinning from ear-to-ear wishing you had just a little more to go…

Well, today I stopped because I had prepared this lovely cardamom coffee cake to go into our pre-heated oven upon return!

It was pretty darn delicious I must say! Cardamomis described as “a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is often used in baking in Nordic countries, such as in the Finnish sweet bread pulla or in the Scandinavian bread Julekake”. So, it’s common in both Asian and Scandinavian dishes and has a unique flavor that is it’s own. My husband says it’s a spice that you taste by smell more than anything else, I tend to agree. It has a very rich smell and is one of those spices that you either love, hate, or it grows on you…

I would have never thought of using cardamom in a coffee cake until I came across this recipe on Eating Well’s website. Of course being the rebel I am, decided to adapt it a bit to make it a bit healthier and get rid of the milk (I’ve recently discovered I’m lactose intolerant).

Cardamom Coffee Cake (adapted from Eating Well)


  • 3 Tbsp of cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp good quality cinnamon (next time I’ll use cardamom)


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cardamom (next time I’ll use cinnamon)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup light plain soy milk (with dash of either vinegar or lemon/lime juice)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp double strength vanilla extract (will increase next time)

I pretty much followed the directions on the Eating Well website (listed below) with modifications in red.

  1. To prepare oatmeal crumb: Combine butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (or cinnamon) in a food processor. Process until the mixture is crumbly. Turn out into a bowl and add the remaining 1/2 cup oats and walnuts. Combine with fingertips or a fork until blended. [I omitted walnuts and halved the crumb]
  2. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square pan with cooking spray.
  3. Sift [sifting is silly, I just whisked well together] 2 cups flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cardamom (or cinnamon), baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk eggs and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl until well blended, gradually whisk in buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in 2 additions, stirring each time to thoroughly blend the ingredients together.
  4. Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the oatmeal crumb evenly on top. Spoon the remaining batter over the crumbs and gently spread in an even layer. Top with the remaining oatmeal crumb.[I omitted this step, unnecessary in my opinion, I’m used to coffee cake with crumb tops, not crumb centers]
  5. Bake the coffee cake until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.[I fixed this before my run and placed it in the fridge while I was running, it took ~50 minutes (40 covered, 10 uncovered) after an hour in the fridge]

It was very good, I’ll definitely make it again with a few more modifications…

First I’ll use cinnamon in the cake itself rather than the only the crumb. The cardamom, though unique and delicious, lacked the homey feel of the coffee cake we were desiring.

Second, to keep the cardamom element in the cake, I’ll use it in making the crumb topping. It think this way I’ll get the best of both worlds, the exotic taste of cardamom and the homey taste of the cinnamon. I feel this combination will put a lovely twist on the otherwise normal coffee cake!

Also as a reminder to my readers, I am still training for the San Diego Marathon on June 6, 2010 with Team in Training! Any little bit of supportI can get from my readers is much appreciated, it means more than you can imagine to my family!