Cardamom Cake with Coffee Buttercream | March 2, 2017

I have a little hero worship going on with a cookbook author. Her name is Sarah Kieffer and I have been obsessed with her (in a good way) for a few years now. She has a blog called The Vanilla Bean Blog and I read it almost everyday. Her pictures are divine. Her recipes do not disappoint. Her copy is true, humble, and often really eloquent. She also doesn’t take herself too seriously. In the blogger world, she is someone I really admire. When I learned Sarah was releasing a cookbook in 2016, I got very excited. I actually received the cookbook for Christmas and it was everything I hoped it would be.

This week’s recipe is straight from her book. Those of you who know me know that I must always change something or put my own little twist on a recipe. Well, I didn’t change a thing – I followed the recipe exactly and I have to tell you that it was one of the best cake I have made, not to mention eaten, in a long time. The cake was perfectly dense and yet still delicate. The cardamom sang not screamed spice – which must have taken more than a few test recipes. And the addition of the coffee buttercream – holy moly – perfection! It was hard not to drizzle a little chocolate on the top for decoration; I mean cake without any chocolate what so ever seems subversive but let me assure you, this cake needs nothing other than what the recipe requires. Absolutely scrumptious!

Let’s talk buttercream. I have been making buttercream since I was probably six years old. It is one of those things you make but then learn to taste, alter it, taste again, and continue to adjust until it is just right. I rarely follow a set recipe but maybe I should rethink my buttercream making because this buttercream was SO silky! One tip I have learned is to add the powdered sugar gradually. Whip the butter and then add about a half-cup of sugar at a time and allow the sugar to really incorporate itself into the butter. This greatly improves the mouth feel of the buttercream. It lets any lumps work themselves out before you are too far along in the process. Anyway, this was amazing coffee buttercream. I will remember it for future cake adventures as well. The coffee was just enough to be identified as coffee. It was a perfect balance to the cardamom cake. It also spread beautifully. As you know, I am a lousy cake decorator. I get paranoid that I will not have enough frosting. The whole “crumb layer” (this is where you very thinly ice the top and sides of the cake and then put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes before icing the rest of the cake) I never understood but I did that this time and it made a world of difference! I not only had enough frosting but it went on beautifully AND looked good!

Clearly, I am a fan of this cake and will definitely make it again. I now want to make every recipe in the Vanilla Bean Blog Cookbook! That is a problem for my waistline as well as my own blog writing! Definitely check her blog and cookbook out yourself and let me know what you make!

A big thank you to Sarah Kieffer, my blog hero.

Cardamom Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting 

YIELDS 8 – 12  |  PREP TIME  about an hour  |  PRINT PDF


Cardamom Cake
from Vanilla Bean Blog Cookbook by Sarah Kieffer

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used creme fraiche)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces


Coffee Buttercream

  • 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups confectionary sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cadamom Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8 by 2-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and sour cream in a liquid measuring cup or medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and orange zest (if using).
  • Turn the mixer on low and mix until everything is combined.
  • Add the butter while the mixer is still running and continue to mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  • Slowly add half of the wet ingredients and beat until combined.
  • Add the remainder of the wet ingredients, speed up the mixer to medium speed then beat for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, with a spatula.
  • Finish the batter by stirring with the spatula a few more times.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the top.
  • Bake for 17 to 22 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and pulling away from the edges of the pan ever so slightly.
  • Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment and let cool completely.
  • Once cool, the cakes can be wrapped in plastic. Well wrapped the cakes will keep in the freezer for one month. OR let’s get frosting!


Coffee Buttercream Frosting:

  • Using a stand mixer, whip butter until light and smooth.
  • Add confectionary sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until fully mixed into the butter.
  • Add salt and beat for about 1 minute.
  • Add vanilla and coffee and continue to whip until liquid is blended.
  • Let frosting continue to whip for about 4 – 5  more minutes or until the consistency you prefer.  If you let this go too long it will start to separate and change texture.
  • Frost cooled cake.