Heat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch
square baking pan with nonstick
cooking spray. Line bottom with
wax paper; coat paper with nonstick
In a large bowl, whisk together cake
flour, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, salt,
baking powder and baking soda. In a
second large bowl, beat egg whites
until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar
and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form.
Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat
egg yolks. Split vanilla bean in half
lengthwise and scrape seeds from pod.
Add to egg yolks along with 1/2 cup of
the sugar. Beat until pale yellow and
fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed,
beat in milk, olive oil and remaining
1/2 cup sugar. Whisk egg yolk mixture
into flour mixture.
Fold whipped egg whites into batter
and pour into prepared pan. Bake at
350° for 55 minutes, until cake springs
back when gently pressed.
Meanwhile, prepare frosting: Beat
together Neufchâtel and butter until
smooth and no lumps remain. On low
speed, beat in confectioners’ sugar and
salt. Add heavy cream and beat on
medium until fluffy and smooth.
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for
10 minutes. Invert cake onto a rack;
remove wax paper and turn right-sideup
onto rack. Cool completely (about
2 hours) and spread top with frosting.
If desired, garnish with dried fruit or
lemon peel and pepitas.