The Kosher Table: The Cake that Tastes like Hel (and Not like Hell!)

— by Margo Sugarman

The Hebrew word for cardamom is “hel” and is, which naturally lends itself to all sorts of silly wordplay. So when I found this wonderful recipe for a cardamom sour cream cake in Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home, mirth ensued.

Firstly, finding a cardamom flavored cake in a recipe book by a Irish chef, was amusing to me. Seeing as cardamom is so prevalent in Israel and the Middle East, and, for those of you who don’t know, provides that distinctive perfumed taste in the locally popular “Turkish coffee”, I have decided to adopt this recipe as an Israeli cake.

Full recipe after the jump.
So here’s one good reason to make this cake, besides its aromatic Middle Eastern flavor: It’s really quick and easy to make! I didn’t even take out my mixer as you shouldn’t over-beat the batter, and there’s no whipping or creaming or over-blending to be done. So within five minutes, you will have this cake in the oven.

The batter was quite heavy, so I was a little concerned. “I wonder how this will taste?” I pondered to my son. “It will probably taste like hell,” he answered without missing a beat. I walked straight into that one, didn’t I. Actually, the cake came out beautiful and moist, and the cardamom flavoring was far from overpowering. And the easy topping was the perfect complement.

In my experience, cakes that call for buttermilk or sour cream tend to be moist, and I am always glad to try them. This one’s no exception. So while it tastes like hel, it really doesn’t taste like hell at all.

Cardamom and Sour Cream Cake



  • 1 egg
  • 200 ml (6.7 fl oz) sour cream (minus 1 tablespoon to be set aside for the topping)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (hel)


  • 1 tablespoon sour cream (that you had set aside)
  • About 1 1/4 cup of powdered (icing sugar)

How to do it

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Line the bottom of a small 20-24 cm (8-9 inch) spring form pan with baking paper and spray the insides.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add all but one tablespoon of the sour cream and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and cardamom and carefully blend together by folding the dry ingredients into the wet. Don’t over-beat — the mixture should be a little lumpy.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (don’t over-bake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool down before removing from the pan.
  6. Mix together the topping ingredients and make sure it’s not too runny but will just ooze down the sides of the cake (add more powdered sugar if necessary.)

Margo Sugarman is the creator of The Kosher Blogger, a website of keeping kosher and loving good food.


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