Growing wild in India, and the world's third most expensive spice, cardamom is one of the oldest spices know to man. It's renown for its healing qualities, especially when it comes to the digestive system. It's also known for its unique ability to cool the body when hot, and to heat the body when cool. A feast for all the senses, it's a powerful aphrodisiac. For that reason, it's said that Cleopatra bathed in water steeped with cardamom pods.
So, in this season of fertility and rebirth, I knew I wanted to highlight the sensuous, earthy flavour of cardamom in my Easter menu. Since cardamom pairs so very well with oranges, and I happened to have a few oranges left in the fruit bowl on my counter, I decided to combine the two in a rich but fluffy coffee cake, perfect for Easter brunch or any springtime celebration.
The method I use to prepare this coffee cake is a little different from that of other cakes in that the butter is "cut" into the flour with a pastry blender. This results in a light, pillow-y texture similar to that of biscuits. A salty, streusel topping melts into the cake as it bakes, and the poppy seeds are neatly suspended throughout, providing a tantalizing crunch and a hint of spicy bitterness in every bite.
Joyous Easter! Happy Spring!