Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

Cardamom and cocoa sponge cake

O Tama Carey is the owner of Lankan Filling Station. Her first cookbook is Lanka Food. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

For most of my life I have very firmly been a summer person. I love being hot, swimming, beaches, tropical islands, barbecues and picnics, glary daytime sun and long sultry evenings. It feels energising. Winter traditionally made me a little grumpy, feeling like a bear who needs to hibernate. Now, though, if you were to ask, I would say spring or autumn are my favourite seasons and winters are not as bad as they once were. This change could be due to a softening as I age or to the fact that I finally live in a Sydney home with proper heating. One of the joys I find with all seasons is the way that what you eat and what you crave shifts and changes.

We’re in the grip of winter, so slow braises, baked goods and warming foods are what’s needed. And puddings and chocolate. I find the need for something sweet from the oven can sometimes come out of nowhere and be overwhelming. It’s at times like these that a quick fix is needed. Baking can take time and effort, but not this recipe – it’s a hybrid cake pudding thing that can be made swiftly and with little effort.

This version features cardamom, which is my current favourite spice. It’s a strong yet versatile spice and is very good with all the foods of winter. It adds depth and a note of sweetness to braises, loves being cooked with meat, and in non-savoury dishes lends an initial medicinal camphor note that follows with a yielding sweetness. The combination in this recipe of chocolate and cardamom is truly sublime.

It’s not a stretch to expect you will have most of the ingredients for this cake in your cupboard. So, when the need arrives, late in the evening as you sit on the couch, pause whatever TV show you are streaming and strike a deal. Convince someone to go to the shops to buy cream (or, in this world of convenience, to line up a home delivery), while someone else steps briefly into the kitchen to get this beauty into the oven. Within a very short time, everyone can be back on the couch, spooning a warm bowl of comfort into their mouths. 


Serves 2-3

Time: 15 minutes preparation + cooking

  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 50g castor sugar
  • 30g plain flour, sifted
  • 10g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • good pinch cooking salt
  • pinch of cocoa nibs (optional)
  • pouring cream to serve
  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C.
  2. Whisk together your eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and doubled in size (about one-and-a-half minutes).
  3. Gently fold in the flour and then the cocoa powder, spices and salt until fully incorporated.
  4. Pour the mixture into a small baking dish or bowl. It can be quite shallow as the mix only needs to come up about 1.5 centimetres from the bottom.
  5. Bake for seven to eight minutes.
  6. Let it cool to room temperature and serve sparingly sprinkled with cocoa nibs and swimming in cream.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 30, 2022 as "Cardamom’s the word".

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