As the weather cools, I drink more and more hot tea and, occasionally, I like to make something to go with it. I don’t know that I’ve ever made a coffee cake before and I thought I would like to try. I read a couple of different recipes and then decided to piece a few different elements of each together. There were different things that appealed to me about each. One seemed more appropriately proportioned for the kind of baking dish I had and, yet, the other used brown sugar for the topping, which seemed like a more fitting choice than regular sugar. I added cardamom to both topping and cake, for extra spice, and a pinch of salt to the topping, as well. I intuitively felt I should reduce the sugar in the cake and increase the sour cream instead. I have very little experience baking cakes and I wasn’t at all sure that it would turn out! But it did, and beautifully. The sponge of the cake turned out perfectly—light, yet moist. The topping of pecans, sugar and spice, with a touch of salt, was perfectly toasted and scrumptious.

Cardamom Coffee Cake

Inspired by Sour Cream Coffee Cake by King Arthur’s Flour and Sara’s Classic Sour Cream Coffee Cake by Sara Foster, both via 


  • Topping:
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Cake:
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cup sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the topping: Combine the cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla extract, chopped pecans, sea salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. For the cake, butter and flour a 9″ × 13″ baking dish. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together cardamom, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, cane sugar and eggs until smooth. Add in the sour cream and beat until blended.
  5. Gently fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until incorporated.
  6. With a spatula, spread half the batter into the buttered and floured baking dish. The mixture will be very sticky—just do your best! Sprinkle with half of the topping. Repeat.
  7. Bake until a a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

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