In the fall, besides baking all the pumpkin things, I love using ingredients like coffee, molasses, pecans, maple syrup, chocolate and brown butter. And then there’s all the warm and cozy spices that fill my kitchen with the scent of fall. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, of course, but also cardamom and allspice, are some of my favorites. This incredibly moist high altitude Cardamom Ginger Cake with homemade lemon curd is reminiscent of a ginger cake that I grew up eating, which my mom served with instant lemon pudding. The spices go so well with the tart lemon, and this is an easy cake to make that your family will love this holiday season!
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This is such an easy sheet cake to make. Seriously, you can’t mess it up! All you need do is sift together the dry ingredients, whisk up the liquid ingredients, mix them together and bake. This cardamom ginger cake is so soft, moist and flavorful, and is fantastic with the lemon curd. You can certainly serve it plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar, or even swirls of brown butter frosting or cream cheese buttercream, but I encourage you to try it with the lemon curd. You’ll love the combination of flavors.
Sift the Dry Ingredients.
For the dry ingredients, you’ll need all-purpose flour, baking powder, coarse Kosher salt, cardamom and ginger. The cardamom and ginger make a beautiful pair, but if you prefer different spices, you can certainly substitute something else. Use what you like, and the cake will still be delicious.
To sift the ingredients, place a mesh strainer over a bowl, measure everything into the strainer, and use a spoon to swish it around until it falls through the strainer. This will ensure your batter is smooth and lump-free.
Whisk the Liquid Ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk together whole buttermilk, eggs, dark brown sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. The buttermilk adds great flavor and texture to cakes, and the oil guarantees a soft, moist cake.
Whisk the Cake Batter and Bake.
Now just whisk together the wet and dry ingredients until smooth. Then pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake until done. Your kitchen will smell amazing while your cake is baking, and while it cools, you can get to work on the lemon curd.
Homemade Lemon Curd
The tart and creamy homemade lemon curd is just SO GOOD with this cardamom ginger cake. After you finish making the lemon curd, you can let the cake and the lemon curd cool for an hour or so, and serve them warm. Absolute heaven.
- Egg Yolks. Save (or freeze for later) the egg whites for another use (like my white velvet cake), because you’ll only need the yolks for lemon curd. They help to thicken the curd into a pudding-like consistency, as well as add richness.
- Granulated Sugar. Sweetens the lemon curd, balancing the tartness.
- Lemons. You’ll be using both lemon zest and lemon juice for lots of fresh and bright lemon flavor, although you’ll be straining out the zest after cooking the curd, for a smooth and creamy texture.
- Unsalted Butter. Butter adds flavor and richness.
- First, set up a double boiler. All you need to do is set a metal bowl over a saucepan filled with a few inches of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. You’ll be cooking the lemon curd in the bowl, so that it cooks and thickens slowly over indirect heat.
- Whisk constantly. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, then whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice. While cooking the lemon curd, it’s important to whisk constantly to avoid getting scrambled bits of egg yolks. Cook until the lemon curd thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, although it will not be as thick and jellied as store-bought lemon curd.
- Strain and discard the lemon zest. So the lemon zest infuses the lemon curd with more flavor while it cooks. But you don’t want to leave it in your lemon curd, or it will add an unpleasant texture. Strain it out to get a perfectly smooth lemon curd.
- Add the butter. Stir in the butter until it’s melted, and your lemon curd is done. It will be thicker after chilling in the refrigerator, so bring it to room temperature for a pourable consistency to serve with your cardamom ginger cake.
Powdered Sugar Stencil
Just to make things extra pretty, I arranged some leaves from our maple and apple trees over my cake to make a powdered sugar stencil. Since the cake is so moist, you need to make sure you’re using non-melting powdered sugar, also called donut sugar. If you use regular powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar, it will quickly soak into your cake, leaving unattractive splotchy areas.
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High Altitude Cardamom Ginger Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd
All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 ¾ cups whole or lowfat buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4-5 small lemons, zested and juiced (you'll need 1/2 cup lemon juice)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom and ginger.
- Separately, whisk together the buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, and whisk just until combined and mostly smooth, and pour the batter into the pan.
- Bake the cake on the center oven rack for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging to it.
- Cool the cake for at least 1-2 hours and serve warm, or cool completely to serve at room temperature. Serve with generous spoonfuls of lemon curd.
- Set a saucepan filled with several inches of water on the stove and bring it to a simmer.
- In a heatproof bowl (one that can sit on top of the saucepan without the bottom of the bowl touching the water), whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
- Add the lemon zest and 1/2 cup of lemon juice. If 4 small lemons doesn't give you enough juice, you can juice another lemon, or just add some bottled juice.
- Set the bowl over the saucepan. Stir slowly but constantly, with a whisk or spatula, and cook the lemon curd until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should take about 10 minutes to thicken. Note that it will not be as thick and jellied as store-bought lemon curd, but will have the consistency of warm pudding. It will thicken more as it cools, though.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and dry off the bottom of the bowl. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl, to strain out the lemon zest and any bits of cooked egg. Discard what's left in the strainer.
- Stir the butter into the lemon curd, 2 tablespoons at a time, until completely melted and smooth.
- Pour the lemon curd into a glass jar and keep refrigerated. Let come to room temperature for a pouring or drizzling consistency.
- Yields about 2 cups of lemon curd.
- The cake will stay moist and fresh for 4-5 days, stored in an airtight container.
- Homemade lemon curd should be refrigerated, and is best eaten within 2 weeks.