An Old-Fashioned Spice Cake
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom are used with a light hand so as not to overpower the spice cake. Note that there is no vanilla extract; it would compete with the spices. The buttermilk yields a crumb that is soft and tender. If you have a choice between nonfat and low fat buttermilk, use the low fat. This cake is fabulous with Cream Cheese Frosting or Caramel Frosting. Note that you bake the cake in a 9×13-inch pan, cut that in half to create the layer cake.
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 generous teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
- ¾ cup apricot jam
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Coat the inside of a 13 x 9-inch pan with nonstick spray; line bottom with parchment and spray parchment.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside.
- Beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the spices.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternately with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Pour into 13x9-inch pan. Smooth batter with an offset spatula.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs when removed. The cake will be tinged with light golden brown around the edges and top and will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool pan on rack for 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off the parchment if necessary and place directly on rack to cool completely. The unfrosted cake may be frosted right away or double wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature overnight.
- Cut cake in half crosswise. Place one half on cake turntable, top with an even layer of apricot jam, then place second cake layer on top.
- Prepare Caramel Frosting according to recipe, then frost top and sides quickly before frosting sets. cake is ready to serve or may be kept at room temperature under a cake dome up to 24 hours.
Image: Peter Muka