Apple Cardamom Cake

This delicious cake recipe is courtesy of The Kitchn, and it’s a perfect fall/wintery cake.

I normally would not have tried this recipe, but I had recently purchased a bottle of cardamom for a butter chicken recipe (this one, from Tasty Kitchen – very good). I don’t know if you know, but cardamom is freaking expensive. So, needless to say, anything that would help keep the spice from going to waste will catch my eye. To be honest, I went into this half expecting to not like it. I love cinnamon and ginger, but I am not always a fan of super spiced things. And cardamom is a pretty strong spice. But I’m glad I tried it – it’s so delicious! Just a note: if you want to try this but don’t want to shell out $12 at the grocery store for cardamom, try a place like World Market – their spices are much more reasonably priced. Or find a friend willing to give you a teaspoon or so.  Or, I also think this would still be good without the cardamom, if you want to try just the cake (it’s a very tasty cake).

I had everything on hand: apples from my CSA (Papa Spud’s), an expensive bottle of cardamom waiting to be used, and the other pretty basic ingredients and spices – ginger, cinnamon, cloves, eggs, flour, etc. I love when that happens – I don’t have to buy anything to bake or cook something.

The only thing I didn’t have was dark brown sugar, but I did in fact have molasses, so I was able to add about a teaspoon to my regular light brown sugar. I melted the brown sugar and some butter together in a small pan. Yum. {sidenote: I’ve kind of become obsessed with melting butter and sugar together….another recipe to come}

While I was waiting for it to boil, I sliced two apples into thinnish slices. The recipe called for thick slices to be cut in half…I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to work but I was envisioning a nice pinwheel of apples, so that’s how I sliced em.

Then, after the brown sugar/butter mixture bubbles for a few minutes, just pour it into a greased cake pan, and arrange the apple slices in a pretty arrangement around the bottom.

Then, beat the eggs till they’re nice and thick and pale yellow, and add the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, salt, sugar.  Then you pour in some milk that’s been warmed on the stove, and it becomes a beautiful spiced batter.

Pour it over the apples and bake for 40 minutes. I recommend putting it on a baking sheet in case anything bubbles up or over (mine did a little bit).

When it’s done, let it cool a bit, run a knife around the edge, then turn it over onto a plate. Gorgeous! The end result is so good. It’s not a heavy cake, but it’s got a nice texture; I expect because of the beaten eggs. The crust on top is exactly what you’d expect a butter and sugar topping to be – a little crunchy, sweet, rich. I almost wanted more of it, so I’d add a bit more butter and sugar next time.  I think it would have been better if it had a chance to sink into the cake more, but the number of apples I used kind of kept it on the top. But still…pretty perfect.

Apple Cardamom Upside-Down Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake. From The Kitchn, where it was adapted from Canal House Cooking No. 5.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (or 1/3 cup light brown sugar + 1 teaspoon molasses)
2 medium-sized firm apples
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for the apples
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan (I used cooking spray). Gather your ingredients.
  2. Peel the apples, core them and slice into thin slices (about 12-16 slices per apple). I used Granny Smith.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar (or 1 teaspoon molasses and light brown sugar) and stir until well-combined. Note: I accidentally added the butter and sugar at the same time, and it turned out just fine.
  4. Let the butter/sugar mixture bubble for about 2 minutes, then pour in the bottom of cake pan. Spread so it covers the bottom. Set aside.
  5. Arrange the apples in a circle, overlapping slightly, in the prepared cake pan on top of the sugar mixture. Start on the outside and then overlap smaller slices in the middle in a smaller circle.  Sprinkle them lightly with cinnamon.
  6. Put the milk in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat until it is warm (but doesn’t boil). Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter so it melts. Keep warm.
  7. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, as well as 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Note: I almost never do this (mainly because I have a tiny kitchen and hate doing extra dishes) – I just add the ingredients separately into the bowl of the mixer. It turned out fine for me.
  8. Beat the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they are very thick and pale. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 5 minutes. Add the flour mixture, and then the warm milk. Mix until the batter is smooth.
  9. Pour the batter over the apples in the cake pan and lightly tap the pan a few times to make sure the batter settles completely to the bottom.
  10. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden. Let the cake cool for a full 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the inside of the pan to help release the cake, and invert onto a serving plate.
  11. Note from the original article – the cardamom flavor develops overnight, so this is a great cake to make ahead of time for a get together. It would be delicious with tea or coffee.
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3 thoughts on “Apple Cardamom Cake

  1. rsmacaalay says:

    Wow what a lovely cake you have there!

    Anyways have a very Happy New Year! And hope to see more blog entires this coming year.

  2. John Mitchell jr. says:

    Dayum, that caramel at the bottom/top looks great! I might add a half tsp of salt or so to the caramel, you’d be amazed at how much flavor a little salt can give even to sweet things. Also, one trick to finding spices is to go to a health food store that has bulk spices in jars where you scoop the spice into little plastic baggies (provided). You can usually get spices for much much less than buying pre-packaged jars at the grocery store. Also if you don’t need a ton or if you will just be needing enough for one recipe then you don’t have to buy a big jar that will sit until forever. Thanks for the recipe!

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