There are a handful of recipes, aside from an occasional birthday celebration, that are saved for the holidays — my grandmother’s Italian meat pie, my husband Hans’ Swedish almond cake, our yearly gingerbread village cake, baked ziti and cardamom cream-filled cinnamon buns. With the kids home from school, it’s the quiet mornings with nowhere to go that are my favorite times of all. And it’s these mornings when the time to make something special feels both possible and luxurious. This cake is a perfect example. A close cousin to the coffee cake, or kaffekuchen, due to the addition of spice, it ventures into its own territory by leaving out the streusel topping.

There are endless possibilities for making this your own. I could easily see making this with blueberries, raspberries, chocolate or even nuts like pecan or piñon. A splash of orange blossom, rose water or whiskey would give it a fun twist, and the zest of lemon or orange would be a lovely pairing with the ricotta and olive oil. And if you’ve been reading my recipes for any amount of time, it would probably not surprise you that I felt an enormous pull to add some New Mexico red chile powder to the batter, but alas I resisted the temptation and gave our jars of chile a break.

The addition of cardamom gives a nod to my husband’s Swedish heritage, while the ricotta and olive oil wave a hearty hello to my Italian side. In our house, it’s the breakfast of our dreams, especially with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a cup of tea or coffee for sipping on the side.


Marianne Sundquist is a chef and writer who in 2020 co-founded Stokli, an online general store. Email her at