Orange & cardamom drizzle cakes


These simple mini drizzle cakes are very light and moist, with a rich orange flavour and just a hint of cardamom. The marmaladey orange zest on top, combined with the slightly soured cream, results in what I think is a very more-ish cake. This cake is great cut small to be served as petits fours or made more substantial as a cake to be served with tea.

The cardamon and the orange work so well together but the trick is subtlety with the cardamom: a touch too much and the cake can taste horribly medicinal! I found that 5 cardamom pods gave just the slight cardamom flavour I wanted.

Tweaking the recipe I use for passionfruit & lime drizzle cakes, I make up a cardamom and orange syrup that forms the main component of the drizzle. A little of the syrup, along with the gorgeous bitter-sweet syrupy orange zest that you get from the syrup, is used to flavour the cake itself and top the cake.

These cakes can, of course, be made any size but I am always a fan of miniature bakes: for these I cut out small circles or squares of the baked and cooled cake. If going for circles, the left-over cake (well, the bits I don’t guzzle!) is great mixed with a little sweetened whipped cream, Grand Marnier and grated dark chocolate for near-instant mini desserts – although I have used the whole cake, post-drizzling, as the base of an indulgent orangey trifle!

Recipe: orange and cardamom drizzle cakes (makes about 30 petits fours-sized cakes)

Cardamom & orange syrup:

  • zest of 2 large oranges
  • 100ml water
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 5 green cardamon pods, crushed


  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g full-fat milk
  • 95g self-raising flour, sifted
  • juice of 1 large orange
  • most of the orange zest from the strained syrup
  • 35g unsalted butter, melted


  • the orange and cardamom syrup
  • juice of 1 large orange
  • 50g granulated sugar

To finish:

  • 50ml double cream
  • 20ml Greek yoghurt

(1) Make the orange and cardamom syrup: put the cardamom in some muslin or a piece of cloth and tie the top – effectively getting a spice teabag! Heat the water, the sugar, the orange zest and the cardamom teabag in a small pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until slightly syrupy. Remove from the heat, discard the cardamom bag and leave the syrup to cool.

(2) Strain the syrup through a sieve, reserving the syrup for drizzling over the cake later. Reserve the syrupy orange zest from the sieve for the cake, but save about a teaspoon of it for the decoration.

(3) For the cake, pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan). Mix all of the ingredients together to form a thick batter (rather than the usual soft-dropping consistency of many cake mixtures). Pour into a cake tin lined with greaseproof paper: I use a shallow rectangular tin with a base approx. 26cm and 18cm. Bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen and a deep golden brown colour.

(4) For the drizzle, mix the orange and cardamom syrup with the orange juice and the sugar. Pour over the hot sponge and leave to cool in the tin before removing carefully and either slicing or cutting into circles or squares of any size.

(5) Whisk the cream and the yoghurt until thick. Spoon or pipe a little over the cakes. Top with a little of the reserved syrupy zest and chill until ready to serve.

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