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Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Cardamom, Vanilla and Almonds

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Cardamom, Vanilla and Almonds

Living in a twelve unit building where my primary view is an arm-length’s peek into other people’s apartment windows, I’ve realized how much this city is part of my fabric. My community. Not the sort of community where you chat on your front lawn, or bring freshly baked goods to someone’s home after they’ve had a new baby. Some people talk about city living, despite being constantly surrounded by people, as being quite lonely. We know few of our neighbors, and while there are many people we pass on the street whom we recognize, we’re not exactly friends with any of these folks. Still, I was telling Matt the other day that there’s something so comforting knowing that there are always people around, even if they are complete strangers. I’ve gotten so used to city living that walking around a dark street in the suburbs legitimately freaks me out.

On any given night, I get a glimpse into other people’s lives: the window right across from my dining room exposes a smallish kitchen with plenty of hanging pots and the occasional vase of flowers on the dining room table. A man and a woman are often buzzing around, cooking not unlike us. The folks right below are often huddled around their kitchen table, drinking beer, playing cards. Guys in their late thirties and forties. Once in a while, they’ll have a party; an evening with friends, not a rager. Last night, the kitchen was dark, save the glow of an Apple computer.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Cardamom, Vanilla and Almonds

To the left and below, there’s a lot of building and assembly going on: new shelving and lamps, red design-y chairs encircling a glass table, a constant rearrangement of houseplants. Much further below, though I can no longer peer in through the window, I often hear little boys talking the sort of nonsense little boys talk about. Occasional out-of-breath laughter.

My upstairs neighbors, whom I still have not 100% identified as the folks that live right above me, love to vacuum late at night and stomp around, reminding me that my ceiling and their floor are actually one and the same.

At some point, we all sit down to dinner apart, yet together. In the bright or dim glow of our little lights. And I feel like I am a part of a bigger whole. I am prideful, knowing that we all fight for street parking and brunch seating; complain about the fog and exclaim in disbelief when October brings temperatures in the high 70s.

I don’t know if I will always live in the city; we go back and forth about what our future looks like. But if I ever leave, I know I will miss this sense of camaraderie. This fight. I will not miss my kitchen, with its outdated brown cupboards and depressing tile. Despite it being my least favorite room, it’s the place I spend most of my time. It’s always inevitably hot (it’s like a narrow, windowless nook). Baking often means sweating it out. I curse as pot lids fall from their places as I rummage around to find my standing mixer attachments, and frequently forget that we’ve child-proofed our cupboards, so my foot no longer opens them. But the stuff that comes out of my oven: pizza pies, biscuits, and cakes like this one make it all worthwhile.

Sitting at my farmhouse dining room table, which is entirely too optimistic for the carpeted room, streaked in afternoon light, this is the sort of thing that reminds me, space or no space, brown cupboards or white, life is good.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Cardamom, Vanilla and Almonds

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Cardamom, Vanilla and Almonds

This recipe is an adaptation of a few recipes, including this one and this one.

Nonstick vegetable spray
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup of cream cheese (5 ounces), at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 vanilla bean pod
3 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
thinly sliced almonds

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and generously coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
2. Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until blended. Slowly beat in the sugar, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Crack open the cardamom pods and remove the black seeds. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod and add it to the mixture along with the crushed cardamom. Mix until incorporated.
4. Add the eggs — one at a time — and beat over medium-low, scraping down sides of bowl.
5. Beat in the almond extract.
6. Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry mix, beating until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with almonds.
7. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (about 60–70 minutes). If the almonds start to brown too quickly, you can tent the cake with foil until it’s fully cooked through. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, and/or poached fruit.

Musical Pairings: Willis Earl Beal – Nobody Knows. + Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Cardamom, Vanilla and Almonds

Willis Earl Beal - Nobody Knows  More on the Turntable.

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • You’ve pretty much explained exactly why I could never move out of the city. I love that sense of living alongside other people even if (or especially if!) you don’t know their names. This is a lovely sounding cake – I love the touch of cardamom in there and the crunchy almond topping.

  • Stephanie

    YUM. I can’t wait to make this.

  • Nicole

    What a gorgeous pound cake!! Anything coated in golden almond slices is enticing to me 🙂 I sometimes wish we lived in a major city where people are constantly walking. I do like our quiet street that is close to walking trails and being surrounded by good-sized metro Detroit cities. I feel similarly disconnected from our neighbors, which I take some of the blame for. When I come home from work, I always have a (self-imposed) sense of urgency to start dinner or a project and I never seem to have the leisure time to start or happen upon a conversation with a neighbor. Life is just busy for everyone, I guess.

  • This cake sounds amazing! You can definitely never get too much cream cheese into baked goods, is all I’m saying. 🙂 And almonds and cardamom sound like an excellent combination.

  • Christina Olson

    I really love this post Kasey! It does remind me of living in SF which was lovely and yet felt like a fight all at the same time. But those vignettes of people you described are what makes a city pulse and beautiful in its imperfect way. Great writing! 🙂

  • I know, I find it hard to imagine ever leaving the city, but who knows! I’m trying to enjoy it for now. 🙂 Also, been meaning to tell you how much I have been enjoying following your travels! x

  • Thank you, Nicole! I do think that the suburbs have changed over the years, too. I remember growing up knowing ALL my neighbors. That said, the walking is definitely one of my favorite parts of city living – keeps me in good shape 🙂

  • Thank you, Eileen! Agreed!

  • It’s pretty straightforward and stays amazingly moist for a while!

  • Thanks, Christina! That means a lot. I often ask myself if it’s worth fighting for and I think, at least for now, the answer is yes.

  • Inspiralized

    The almonds look beautiful here… what a great recipe, thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for the sweet comment!

  • I long for that sense of community where I live, I am constantly panicked when i feel isolated. I guess I like to know that i am still a part of something bigger than myself.
    this simplistic loaf is my kind of cake, like the ones you want to eat not just look at. Stunning!

  • Kate Ramos

    My new favorite cake! I think you’ve combined every flavor I adore into one loaf pan….

  • These are some of my favorite flavors, too. Happy baking!

  • I couldn’t agree more, Belinda. Thanks for the sweet words about my cake.

  • Kimberley

    I like that it gives you a sense of community and camaraderie. I go back and forth between feeling too crowded and connecting with exactly what you’re talking about. 🙂

  • I hear you about feeling community even though you don’t actually engage with your neighbors. In SF our neighbor regularly has morning coffee and reads the paper out on her porch, which is adjacent to our breakfast nook and, though we never talk, there is a comfort of knowing she’s there!

  • You’ve brought me back to the city life we abandoned years ago, for that move to the ‘burbs. I assure you, if this is where you find yourself eventually, you will find other joys. But, I vividly remember and sometimes miss the comfort in that anonymous community, in that collective heartbeat. My husband and I often chat about the idea of returning to life in the city (perhaps NYC, which we both miss), after the children head to college. I would imagine empty nesting would be fun this way!

  • Cindy Wheatley Holland

    Can’t wait to make this…love your photos!! 🙂

  • julia

    duude. this pound cake looks like a masterpiece

  • You describe city life so perfectly… there’s something so beautiful about this connection we all have. Definitely something you won’t find in the ‘burbs. But I think at some point we’re ready for a change. Something more subdued. Something that feels like a home.

    I’ve been doing a cream cheese pound cake for a while but never had I thought to do cardamom in it. Sounds wonderful!!!

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