Tuesday, December 9, 2014

old fashioned spice cake with orange cream cheese frosting

During the holidays, you'll often see cakes like a Yule Log, Gingerbread House, and Trifles on dessert tables . . . along with supporting desserts like cookies, candies, and fudge.

BUT have you ever had an old-fashioned Spice Cake?

They're a deliciously flavorful cake full of spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, allspice, and nutmeg! This recipe is extra special because it calls for a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger and a couple of tablespoons of molasses for an amazing zing! 

To further enhance the warm flavors in the cake, I bloomed the spices in butter . . . intensifying their aroma and giving the cake a heightened spice impact throughout its tender and moist crumb.

A luxuriously smooth orange cream cheese frosting is spread between every layer and on the top and sides. The orange zest adds a festive touch to the frosting, as does the addition of the reserved spice mixture from the cake.

These are actually photos of a client's cake. So to see the inside, you'll have to treat your family and friends to one this holiday season. You won't be disappointed!

a few cake TIPS 
.     .     .     .     .     .     .  

To add height to the cake, I cut each 8-inch round in half horizontally so that there are a total of 4 8-inch layers.

You can dress up this cake by adding a cookie crumble top or sides. I love the texture it adds to the cake. If you choose to do this, then I recommend using a dry cookie, like crisp gingersnaps or an old-fashioned cinnamon graham crackers (like the ones found at Trader Joe's). They'll stand up to the moisture of the frosting and stay crisp, giving you delightful contrast of textures. YUM!


Spice Cake Ingredients
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon 
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
16 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, plus 3 large yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger 
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature 


Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Grease 2 8-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, and flour the pan.  

Combine cinnamon, cardamom, all-spice, cloves, and nutmeg in small bowl; reserve 1/2 teaspoon of spice mixture for frosting.  

Melt 4 Tablespoons butter in saucepan over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter is light brown and has faint nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Add spices and continue to cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 3 minutes. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla to combine. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat remaining 12 Tablespoons butter with sugar and molasses on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. 

Reduce speed to medium and cooled butter spice mixture, ginger, and half of egg mixture; scrape down the bowl. Repeat with remaining egg mixture; scrape down bowl. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, scraping down the bowl. 

Mix at medium speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Give batter a final stir by hand.  

Scrape batter into prepared pans, smooth tops with rubber spatula, and gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. 

Bake cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 32 to 37 minutes. 

Let cake cool completely in pan or on wire rack, about 2 hours. Run pairing knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cakes onto a wire rack, discard parchment, then turn cakes right side up. 

Stir reserved spice mixture into frosting. Spread frosting over cakes (see recipe below). 

Bring cake to room temperature before serving. 

Another exceptional recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

silky Orange Cream Cheese frosting
do not use low fat or non fat cream cheese or the frosting will turn out too soupy to work with
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) confectioners' sugar
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, orange zest, and salt at medium high speed until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

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  1. This looks so awesome, Suzanne! As good as any bakery I've ever seen. I think the spices sound so flavorful and festive for this time of year!

  2. What an absolutely gorgeous cake! It sounds so delicious too, and the flavors just sound like Christmas to me!! Looks wonderful!!!

  3. Omg, I want a slice, now! Amazing!

  4. Your cake is beautiful. I love all the tips you provided, especially the blooming of the spices.


  5. Old-fashion cakes are the best!
    This one looks absolutely AMAZING !!

  6. Spice cake is my all time favorite cake.These are good tips ( about the height and added cookie crumbs etc. ) when I want to spice up the presentation! :)

    I use a box mix for the most part but did make a from-scratch one last Christmas...I'll try this recipe soon! : )

  7. I think I could pin everything you make. I'm a huge fan of spice cake, but then you took it to the next level with ORANGE cream cheese frosting-YUM! I love the crumb idea too, and, of course, your beautiful decorating. This sounds like a great Christmas Eve treat. I hope you and your family are enjoying the season!

  8. At first glance I thought it was a cheesecake, what a delightful surprise! You've decorated and presented it so beautifully. It is worthy of a magazine cover!

  9. Yum-adding to my recipe box! Thanks for sharing at Fridays Unfolded!

  10. You say to add half of the egg mixture, but never add the second half?

    1. Thanks, Rick . . . I edited the recipe.
      Happy Holidays,

  11. Thanks! I'm making this for our Christmas brunch!

  12. Thank you for sharing this yumminess at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Please watch for your Make It Monday Feature ♥

  13. Oh man, this sounds so delicious.

  14. such a gorgeous holiday cake - LOVE the spices

  15. Hey Suzanne, I've featured your cake on Worthwhile Wednesdays tonight, stop on by and grab your button!
    ~Allie www.craftyallieblog.com

  16. This cake looks delicious, Suzanne. I know my husband will want me to make it! I will be featuring your post in this week's Home and Garden Thursday,

  17. Such a beautiful cake Suzanne, you are amazing in the kitchen! Thanks for sharing your creativity!
    Julie@ Sweet and Spicy Monkey

  18. My sister in law is the cake baker in our family and I am sending this recipe to her for our Christmas dinner! Wow! What a fabulous recipe and photographs!

    Thanks so much for sharing at Show Me Saturday! Pinning!
    ~ Ashley

  19. Such a beautiful cake, and I love the addition of the orange zest in the frosting. I add gingersnap crumbs to the sides of my carrot cake, so yummy! Thanks for sharing at On Display Thursday.
    -Leia @ Eat It & Say Yum

  20. My goodness, your photos are beautiful! An orange frosting with this cake is such a good idea. As to the original Cook's Illustrated recipe, I can vouch that it is fantastic! I made this again a few days ago for the second time, and it was SOOOOOOOOOOO delicious. About six months ago, I made it side-by-side to the Cook’s Country Spice Cake and an old recipe from Better Homes and Gardens that I made probably 15 years ago. I loved the BHG recipe then, but boy were these new recipes better! The CI version was the spiciest of the bunch, with a medium crumb, and I loved the frosting. The CC version had that perfect cake crumb that I’ve tasted before from this company, with a more mild spice flavor, but still a buttery delicious cake. I will definitely be making BOTH of them again! I just love Cook’s Country – Cook’s Ilustrated – America’s Test Kitchen!


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