This easy lemon cardamom cake is delicate, light, moist, intensely citrusy and not overly sweet. Ground cardamom adds a subtle floral flavor and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios provides just the right amount of crunch.
What does cardamom taste like?
Cardamom has a fresh, floral, minty and lemony flavor that works great with citrus desserts, such as this cake.
For the cake batter:
For the glaze:
How to make the cake:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Cut a piece of parchment paper and fit it into the bottom of a 9″ x 5″ x 2 ½″ loaf pan. Grease the pan (including the surface of the parchment bottom) well with vegetable shortening, sprinkle flour into the pan and shake out the excess. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 2. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom to a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Step 3. With an electric mixer or standing mixer, whip butter and sugar until fluffy.
Step 4. Whip in eggs followed by lemon zest. Set aside for a moment.
Step 5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract.
Step 6. With the mixer running, gradually whip the dry and wet ingredients into the batter, alternating between the two and starting with the dry ingredients. Whip the batter for a few minutes until it turns lighter in color and becomes firmer and smoother.
Step 7. Fill the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out completely clean. Check in several spots along the center length of the cake to make sure the cake is fully baked.
Let the cake cool a bit in the pan on a wire rack, then run a knife around the edges of the pan, turn the cake out and let it cool completely.
Step 8. Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. (If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add more lemon juice.) Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, then sprinkle chopped pistachios on.
Recipe notes & tips:
- To grease a pan, I find it easiest to grab a paper towel, fold it up, then scoop up the vegetable shortening with it and rub it around the insides of the pan.
- 1 teaspoon cardamom will give the cake a subtle cardamom flavor. If you prefer a stronger flavor, add 2 teaspoons ground cardamom.
- The pistachios add both visual appeal but also to add some crunch and a great texture contrast to the delicate, light and airy cake.
What kind of yogurt should I use?
You can use either plain, whole milk Greek yogurt or plain, whole milk regular yogurt for this cake (use the same amounts). Both kinds will make a delicious cake but they will produce slightly different textures. Greek yogurt will produce a fine crumb while regular yogurt will produce a slightly coarser crumb.
I photographed a slice of each version of the cake and you can see the difference in the photos below.
How long is the baking time?
The baking time will be between about 45 and 60 minutes and depends in part on the kind of yogurt you use. If you’re using Greek yogurt, it will be toward the shorter end of the range, for regular yogurt it will be toward the longer end.
Can I make the cake without the glaze?
Yes, you can do that. It won’t look as pretty as with the glaze and the pistachios but it will still taste great and very lemony.
How to store the cake:
You can let the cake sit out at room temperature, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 1 day.
How to freeze the cake:
You can also transfer the glazed cake into a freezer bag and freeze it. To thaw, let the cake sit on the kitchen counter for about 2 hours.
More delicious cardamom sweets:
See all cardamom recipes →
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Full Printable Recipe
Lemon Cardamom Cake
For the cake:
- vegetable shortening to grease the loaf pan
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting the pan
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons ground cardamom (1 teaspoon will give the cake a subtle cardamom flavor. If you prefer a stronger flavor, use 2 teaspoons)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest (you need 3 large or 4 – 5 small lemons for that)
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons plain, whole milk yogurt**
- 4 teaspoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 5 teaspoons lemon juice, or more, depending on the humidity in your kitchen
- chopped pistachios
For the cake:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper and fit into the bottom of a 9 inch x 5 inch x 2 ½ inch loaf pan. Secure it to the bottom of the pan with a few dabs of vegetable shortening.
- Grease the pan well with vegetable shortening (including the surface of the parchment bottom),* sprinkle flour into the pan and then shake out the excess.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
- Whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Add the eggs and continue to whip until well incorporated and smooth.
- Whip in the lemon zest, then set aside for a moment.
- In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk lemon juice, yogurt, milk and vanilla together. Set aside.
- Whip the dry and wet ingredients into the butter mix, little by little, alternating between the two and starting with the dry ingredients. Whip for a few minutes on high speed until you have a very smooth and creamy-looking batter.
- Fill the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out completely clean (about 45 to 60 minutes). (Check in several spots along the center length of the cake to make sure that the cake is fully baked.) If you're using Greek yogurt, the baking time will be on the shorter end of the range. If you're using regular yogurt, it will be on the longer end.
- Once the pan is cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Unmold the cake and then let it cool completely.
For the glaze:
- Whisk the two ingredients together and keep adding lemon juice until you have a slow-moving icing. (If the icing ends up too runny, whisk in a little more powdered sugar).
- Drizzle the icing on the cake and sprinkle the chopped pistachios on.