Spice Cake

This is a no-nonsense, classic and delicious recipe for homemade Spice Cake.

Slice of Spice Cake

Spice cake doesn’t get as much attention as chocolate cake or white cake.  It really should be highlighted more often because spice cake is the most delicious cake out there!  That’s my opinion, of course.  I’ve always loved spice cake.  Mom used to make spice cake from a box when I was growing up, and it has been my favorite ever since.

What is Spice Cake?

Spice cake is basically a good vanilla cake recipe that has been spiced up.  Spices added include cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves and nutmeg.  Freshly grated ginger and molasses and mixed in to the cake batter too.  All of these spicy ingredients turn plain cake into an amazing spice cake.  The combination of flavors is so delicious!

Spice Cake

The best kind of frosting for spice cake is a cream cheese style frosting.  In this recipe, you’ll save some of the dry spices to add to the frosting recipe too.  More spice for the spice cake!  You can keep it simple and just have a nicely frosted layer cake, or you can sprinkle some toasted walnuts on top.

Slice of Spice Cake

How to grate fresh ginger:

Fresh ginger has a stringy texture that can be difficult to grate.  Peel your piece of fresh ginger with a potato peeler, place it in a little zip baggie, and store it in the freezer until firm (in fact, I just store my fresh ginger in the freezer period!) It will be easy to grate when it’s firm.  The stringiness kind of goes away when it’s frozen.  Store any ginger that you don’t use in the freezer.  It should stay good for grating for other recipes for at least a couple of weeks.

slice of Spice Cake

How to make buttermilk at home when you don’t have any:

When recipes call for buttermilk, I don’t always like to run out and buy a carton when I know I won’t need it for anything else.  The good thing is… you can easily make your own buttermilk at home!  Pour the amount of buttermilk that your recipe calls for into a measuring cup.  For every CUP of milk, you will add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.  It will curdle a bit.  It has turned into buttermilk!  This method works best when using whole, 2% or 1% milk.

Can this Spice Cake be baked in another pan?

Yes!  Use a 9×13-inch pan in place of two round cake layer pans, if you’d like.  You’ll just need to bake the cake slightly longer than the recipe calls for.

slice of spice cake

If you’re looking for more delicious cake recipes, you might like to try these:

Spice Cake

This spice cake recipe is a childhood favorite!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword spice cake
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 596 kcal

Ingredients

CAKE:

  • 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 (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (divided)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

FROSTING:

  • 5 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces), at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (cut into 4 pieces), at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Instructions

PREPARE THE CAKE:

  1. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch pans.

  2. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl; reserve 1/2 teaspoon for the  frosting.

  3. Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly, until the butter is light brown and has a faint nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the spices (make sure you save the 1/2 teaspoon for the frosting) and continue to cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, gently whisk the eggs, yolks and vanilla to combine. In standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer), cream the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter with the sugar and molasses at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl twice with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add the cooled butter/spice mixture, ginger, and half of egg mixture; mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture; scrape down the bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated after each addition, about 5 seconds. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk. Scrape bowl and add the remaining flour; mix at medium speed until the batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the batter once or twice with a rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth the surface with a spatula.

  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cakes to room temperature in the pans on a wire rack, about an hour.

PREPARE THE FROSTING:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the butter, sugar and reserved spice mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese one piece at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds.

  2. Run a paring knife around edge of the cakes to loosen from the pans. Place one layer of the cake on a serving platter. Using a spatula, spread some of the frosting evenly over the surface of cake. Add the second layer, and spread the rest of the frosting on top and on the sides. Sprinkle the cake with walnuts, if using. Cut, and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • This cake may also be made in a 9x13-inch pan. The time will be slightly more- just watch closely until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
Nutrition Facts
Spice Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 596 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Fat 34g52%
Saturated Fat 18g113%
Cholesterol 159mg53%
Sodium 425mg18%
Potassium 198mg6%
Carbohydrates 65g22%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 45g50%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1040IU21%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 1.9mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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