August is our birthday month. This year, it started great. Jacinto remembered to wake me up early on the first Sunday of the month for us to attend church. He looks forward to standing up together when the announcer asks for everyone born in August. We dined at our favorite restaurant, The Cecil in Harlem, on his birthday. We danced to Lauren Hill and Lenny Kravtiz at AfroPunk Festival in the VIP section one weekend. Unfortunately, by the time my birthday week occurred, the good times had ceased.
For starters, my feel-good step class was so good I woke up the next day with a slightly sore back. I admit the injury was coming because I needed new gym sneakers since last Spring. I thought yoga would make my back better the following day, but the sun salutations inflamed the pain. So I left the class early to limp home. Since that yoga day, I’ve been kind of off my feet, waiting for my lower back to heal as my new gym sneakers sit in a corner. Amid my lower back problems, I finally had a relaxing pedicure and manicure until the nail technician nicked my baby toe into a bloody mess. Even as I’m writing this story, my tiny toe is still sore.
For August babies, we start our lives with contradictions. We’re born into a few weeks of sunny weather before it drastically changes into Autumn, leading to the long winters. August babies have known about the phrase “Winter is Coming” long before “Game of Thrones” was a popular television series.
Despite my birthday pains and aches, I was able to whip up a cardamom cake. We’re trying to watch our weight, so I frosted only one layer of the cake and placed the other layer in the freezer for later. We enjoyed the cake with vanilla cream and cashew butter frosting. It was garnished with fresh figs and toasted cashews — the perfect ingredients for August babies.
And, when autumn returns in a few weeks, we’ll enjoy the second layer with another flavorful frosting and seasonal fruit. By then, my back and baby toe will be fully healed, and I will enjoy running outdoors in cooler air wearing my new sneakers.
Until then, your well wishes are appreciated.
Cardamon Cake with Vanilla Chocolate Cream and Cashew Butter Frosting
Note: For a two-layer, 9-in. cake
Ingredients for Cardamon Cake
- 1-1/2 sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/4 c. white sugar
- 2 c. all purpose, white flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. ground cardamon
- (Optional) 1 tsp. rose water
- 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup)
- 3/4 c. milk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Garnish: Roughly chopped toasted cashews and fresh, vertically halved figs
Ingredients for Cashew Butter Frosting
Key: [Amount for one layer cake, 9-in. in diameter] Ingredient Description [Amount for two-layer cake, 9-in. in diameter]
- [¼-cup] unsalted butter, room temperature [½ cup]
- [1/3 cup] cashew butter (if possible, get unsalted) [½ cup + 2 tbsp.]
- [1 cup] powdered sugar [2 cups]
- [¼ cup] dairy or nut milk [½ cup]
- [1/2 tsp.] vanilla extract [1 tsp.]
- [1/2 tsp.] sea salt, include if the cashew butter is unsalted [1 tsp.]
Ingredients for White Chocolate Sauce
- 3.5 oz. white chocolate
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp. of fresh cream
Directions for Cardamon Cake
- Place racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottom with unbleached parchment paper.
- In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
- As the butter is creaming, sift flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom together. Set aside.
- Whisk the rose water (optional), egg whites, milk and vanilla together. Set aside.
- Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter. Mix until incorporated, but don’t over mix. Then add half the milk mixture. Again, mix until incorporated, but don’t over mix. Repeat with the second third of the flour mixture and the last half of the milk mixture. Finally add the last third of the flour mixture. Depending on the brand of the mixer, periodically scrape the bowl and the beater.
- Evenly distribute batter to both cake pans. Make sure they’re about equally the same in weight. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Place cake pans in the oven, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (different ovens causes timing to vary), or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool for five minutes before removing cakes from the pans, discard parchment paper. Cool completely before using Cashew Butter Frosting (directions are below).
- If using 1 layer: Place cake on a plate. Frost the top of one layer cake and freeze the second cake layer for later.
- If using both layers: Place cake on a plate. Frost the top of the first cake with half the frosting. Place the second cake on top of the frosted cake layer. Frost the top of the second cake.
- Drizzle the White Chocolate Cream Sauce (Directions are below) over the top of the frosting.
- Decorate with toasted cashews and figs.
Directions for Cashew Butter Frosting
- Place butter and cashew butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on medium until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar and whip on low for about 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium (this method prevents powdered sugar from flying everywhere). When the powdered sugar is incorporated into the butter, add the milk, vanilla and optional sea salt.
- Whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Use frosting on a completely cool cake.
Directions for White Chocolate Sauce
- Place a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. Place broken squares of the white chocolate in the metal bowl.
- After about 30 seconds, gently whisk the chocolate until smooth. Turn off the heat.
- Remove the bowl from the stove. Whisk in the cream until the chocolate is incorporated. Let cool for a few minutes. Before drizzling over the cake, whisk the sauce again to make sure it’s smooth.