Cardamom pods are the seed pods of a tropical fruit of the ginger family, known as Elettaria cardamomum. Green cardamom is recognised as having a superior flavour to brown or black cardamom. It is available in pods, which should be opened and the seeds lightly crushed, or in ready-ground form. In India, it is used to flavour curries and most of the crop in Arab countries goes to flavour coffee. However, in Scandinavia, it is used in breads and baking. Make a cardamom braid using a sweetened enriched bread dough, flavoured with cardamom (approximately 2.5-5g to 1,000g flour). The dough is split into three, plaited and the ends are joined together prior to baking. Add some ground cardamom to a basic cookie dough or make almond cardamom stars, flavouring a biscuit dough with ground almonds, orange zest and cardamom.
Why not try some cardamom in coffee cakes, as it is so often a flavouring added to coffee. The cardamom can be added to the cake mixture and the icing. It can also be used in savoury baked goods in, for example, the meat or vegetarian filling of pasties or pies. And try adding some to the filling of an apple pie.
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from Leiths School of Food and Wine