This gorgeously golden vegan cardamom turmeric cake has the addictive combination of turmeric, cardamom and coconut. It is silky, tender, melt-in-the mouth, but be warned: a slice simply won't be enough.
Turmeric can be a great addition to baked goods because of its incredible color and its unparalleled healthfulness. In this Vegan Cardamom Turmeric Cake you not only get all of those amazing benefits of this golden spice, you also get a treat that is heart-stoppingly gorgeous and finger-lickin' delicious.
I drew from my Indian background in creating the flavor combination for this cake: turmeric, cadamom and coconut oil. Coconut and cardamom are a match made in taste heaven, and they are a common pairing in homemade Indian sweets. In this cake, they make magic together. They also mellow and dissipate the natural bitterness of turmeric, leaving behind just a hint of its fragrance and all of its goodness.
If you have made my vegan mango bread before, this is a recipe you will doubtlessly love. Not only does the golden color emulate the bright orange of an Indian mango, the unique combination of ingredients creates an almost mango-like flavor. Jay, who loves mango bread, thought that's what I had made when he took his first bite. And yes, he loved this turmeric cake too.
What you'll love about this vegan Cardamom Turmeric Cake
- It is hands-down delicious.
- It scores points for healthfulness as well, with two teaspoons of turmeric in the loaf.
- The coconut-cardamom-turmeric combination is addictive.
- It has a moist, silky, melt-in-the-mouth crumb.
- As with most desserts I've shared of late, it is a one-bowl recipe.
- It takes all of 10 minutes to put together.
- It is gorgeous to look at.
Why add turmeric to a cake?
Why not? Not only does turmeric imbue the most gorgeous color to the cake, it is also one of the most healthy things you can put into your tummy. While the addition of turmeric will not automatically make cake a healthy dessert, it will definitely improve the nutrition profile of your dessert by adding powerful antioxidants to it.
Fresh or dry turmeric?
You can use either. If using fresh turmeric, peel and grate it and use a quarter of a cup. The turmeric will not only add golden color through the loaf, it will also add pretty orange strands throughout the crumb.
If using ground turmeric, as I did, use two teaspoons and no more. As I often say, and it bears repeating, turmeric has a bitter, astringent taste and should never be overused. In this dessert, two teaspoons is just enough and the cardamom, coconut oil and vanilla do a great job of dissipating any bitterness while leaving just the warmth of turmeric behind, which is exactly what you want.
If you really want a stronger turmeric flavor in your loaf, skip the pure vanilla extract.
Now, a chemistry lesson
Here's a fun thing to do with your kids, a lesson I chanced upon by accident.
The first time I made this loaf cake, it was yellow on the outside, but a deep, watermelon-red on the inside. Surprise! It was gorgeous and extremely tasty, but a red turmeric loaf is not what I was looking for. So I dug deeper into why this could have happened.
Anyone who has stained their clothing with turmeric and tried to wash it off with soap knows that turmeric turns red when soap, a base or an alkali, reacts with it. You can read all about the chemistry of that here. All I needed to do was to weed out the alkaline substance among my ingredients. The answer was baking soda.
So the next time I made the cake, I skipped the baking soda and added a tiny bit more baking powder instead. The loaf with the baking soda had a slightly better rise in the middle, but the loaf without it had the gorgeous golden color I was looking for. Both had a silky crumb and the same delicious taste, so you won't go wrong either way.
If you have kids at home, try making both versions with them. When you add baking soda, use half of a teaspoon, and reduce the amount of baking powder to 1 ½ teaspoons.
Tips and substitutions
- This turmeric cake is really easy to pull together with pantry ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients together--flour, turmeric, baking powder, salt -- and then dump in the wet ingredients--sugar, oil, vegan yogurt, pure vanilla extract and nondairy milk.
- The coconut oil should be melted when you add it in, but it might make your batter seem a little lumpy. Don't worry about it, and don't overmix it--you don't want to activate the gluten. Just stir everything together until there are no apparent dry ingredients and move on.
- To make the cake healthier, you can use whole wheat pastry flour. I like the delicate, tender crumb you get with unbleached all purpose flour, and the APF version is definitely more kid-friendly. But the whole wheat version is rather fine too and definitely an option if you're looking to cut out refined flours.
- I made an earlier version of the cake with a cup of sugar, but Jay didn't think it was sweet enough so I added two more tablespoons to subsequent versions. If you're serving this to adults, one cup of sugar is perfect, but if you have kids, you might want to go with the additional two tablespoons.
- When using cardamom in desserts, always use the small, green cardamom. The big black or brown variety should only be reserved for spicy dishes because it has a much stronger flavor. Try and make your own ground cardamom for the best flavor. To do this, crush the pods in a mortar and pestle and then pick out the outer, green skin, leaving only the black seeds behind. Powder those and use. Storebought versions of ground cardamom will often include the outer skin, and you might need to use more of it to get enough of the cardamom flavor. But if that's all you have, that's fine too.
- The vanilla helps tamp down the bitterness of the turmeric, and you can barely taste the spice in the final cake. That said, if you want a stronger turmeric flavor, skip the vanilla.
- Vegan yogurt adds a really lovely flavor and tenderness to this cake. I use my homemade vegan yogurt. You can substitute with vegan sour cream.
- Coconut is a great flavor with cardamom, and the coconut oil is amazing in this cake. But if you want to amp it up a bit you can stir in half a cup of sweetened coconut flakes into the batter before baking.
More Indian-inspired vegan cakes
Vegan Cardamom Turmeric Cake
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 cup sugar (add two more tablespoons for a kid-friendlier cake)
- ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup vegan yogurt (or vegan sour cream)
- 1 cup nondairy milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, turmeric, cardamom, baking powder, tapioca starch and salt.
- Add the sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, yogurt (or sour cream) and milk and whisk together or mix with a spatula until just combined. The batter may be slightly lumpy but that's fine. Don't overmix.
- Prepare a loaf pan by coating it with cooking spray and placing a piece of parchment at the bottom to make unmolding easier.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the loaf comes out clean. The top will crack, like that of a pound cake, but that just makes it look prettier.
- Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it and continue cooling it on the rack.
- Slice and eat.