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This creamy spiced cardamom cake employs a boost of vanilla for extra flavor.

Let’s hear it for vanilla, the all-around MVP of the baker’s kitchen! This humble pod contains a magical flavor that enhances desserts from all walks of life, all around the world. Whether you’re employing famous varietals from Madagascar, Tahiti, Tonga, India, Mexico or elsewhere, you’re in for a treat. Baker, blogger and all-around confectionist Sarah Kieffer’s new cookbook features this must-have ingredient, with recipes like this cardamom cake. 

This cake is inspired by a spice cake with cardamom-coffee icing from Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson’s book Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland. It was the first from-scratch cake I ever made, an undertaking I decided on one Friday night while bored at work. Several hours and one gigantic mess later, I was the proud owner of a frosted spice cake. Of course, I didn’t wait for the cake layers to cool completely before I applied the frosting, and I used espresso grounds in the buttercream instead of the instant coffee it called for, so it was a slightly oozy, gritty experiment. But it was delicious all the same.

Reprinted with permission from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book