Recipes

Spice Cake

Spice cake is the perfect warming cake for a cold winter day!

Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!

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I didn’t grow up eating spice cake. My mom jokes that no one in the family liked traditional birthday cakes – my dad and brother both preferred blueberry pie, and her birthday fell on Halloween, so candy usually trumped cake. (I loved birthday cake but somehow she forgot that. We’ll forgive her.)

When I lived in Virginia, a roommate of mine introduced me to spice cake at least monthly all winter long. It was such an unexpected treat to come home to on a cold day, and we would sit on the couch eating our cupcakes with cups of tea.

So while the spices are perfect for fall and winter, I associate it with the cold days in January and February: that end of winter where you’re waiting for it to snow one more time or move on to spring. It’s the most hygge cake I know, a perfect treat for cold days.

Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!

Spice cake has many of the same spices as pumpkin baked goods, so friends ask if it’s pumpkin cake quite a bit. But I love the warming spices let loose to do their thing, sans pumpkin to steal the show.

This cake is rich and almost fudgy, if you can call something fudgy without chocolate. It’s dense in a good way, not heavy but packed full of flavor.

Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat! Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!

You can adjust the spices to your liking – if you have a favorite, feel free to add more. Ginger shows up strongly but plays well with allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. Cinnamon obviously gets bumped up, because who doesn’t love cinnamon?

While I talk about the warming effect of this cake, don’t serve it warm: the frosting will slide right off. The high fat content from the cream cheese (it’s frosting, folks, fat is to be expected) means that it’ll melt if the cake doesn’t cool fully before frosting.

Additionally, you want the cream cheese and butter to be room temperature for beating together, but if they’re too soft they won’t stick to the cake very well. I put the frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes before building the cake.

You can omit the cinnamon in the cream cheese frosting if you’re a purist, but I love that the spice shows up in both cake and frosting.

Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!

Tools you’ll need: two 9-inch cake tins, mixer, parchment paper and offset spatula.

Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Course: Dessert
Keyword: fall, holiday meal, winter

Ingredients

Spice Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 16 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Spice Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment. 
  • Cream the butter for 2-3 minutes, then add the brown sugar and beat 2-3 minutes more. 
  • Add the vanilla and eggs, one a time, beating thoroughly. 
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. 
  • Add half the flour to the batter and stir on low until just combined, then add half the buttermilk. Repeat with the second half. 
  • Split the batter between the two pans and bake 22-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
  • Cool fully before turning out or frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream the butter and cream cheese together for 4 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat on high for 2 more minutes. 
  • Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until frosting reaches the consistency you want. I used 3 1/2 cups for mine. 
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!
Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring! Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it's the perfect winter treat!

Spice cake is a perfect hygge cake, perfect for the long days of winter while we wait for spring.

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