spiced layer cake

spiced layer cake 8

Oh, I just do these cakes like they’re no big deal now. Getting back from Iceland Sunday night and having a three-tier fondant-decorated cake ready to deliver by Saturday afternoon after working a 44-hour week? No problem.

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To be honest, it really was manageable. I baked, tightly wrapped, and froze the cake layers before vacation, as well as mixed and colored the fondant. Friday night I made a big batch of cream cheese frosting, layered and crumb coated the cakes, then tediously made way too many pink and purple flowers. That just left about seven hours of cake decorating on Saturday, plus a couple hours at the shower and a couple hours cleaning the kitchen afterward. And then a couple hours napping on Sunday.

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The bottom two tiers were the same as in the last cake I made, vanilla bean and red velvet. The top tier this time was spice cake. It was my first time making spice cake, but I always assumed I’d like it. It would be like apple or carrot cake, but without the fruits and vegetables.

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That describes it pretty well, and I did like it, light with a balanced level of spices. To be honest, I liked baking and decorating the cake too, even in the midst of a busy schedule. These cakes really do get easier every time, although somehow I doubt they’ll ever be no big deal.

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Printer Friendly Recipe
Spiced Layer Cake (slightly adapted from Bon Appetit via epicurious)

I frosted the cake with cream cheese frosting.

2 cups (9.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sour cream, preferably room temperature
½ cup whole milk, preferably room temperature
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons grated orange zest
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, preferably room temperature

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 9-inch round pans with baking spray and line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. In a small bowl or measuring cup, use a fork to combine the milk and sour cream.

2. With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the sugar and orange zest until fragrant. Add the butter and salt, and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding another. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add one-third of the flour mixture, immediately followed by half of the sour cream mixture. Repeat with another one-third of the flour mixture and the remaining sour cream mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, until evenly combined.

3. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert the pans to remove the cakes. Peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely before frosting.

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  1. Wow that is super impressive!! I don’t think I would be able to make such a gorgeous cake in such a small time frame… I love the way you decorated it with the owl theme too, very cute 🙂

  2. Sonya says:

    Wow, this is so cute!!!!!!!!!!!! I have no decorating talent, but admire from afar 🙂 I have always loved spice cake; it sounds like you’re happy with the recipe you found, but if you want to try others, I tasted a few of them side by side a few months ago and found two personal favorites. The Cook’s Country recipe (“Spice Cake”) is delicious, with their famous perfect crumb, with mild spice flavor – great! The Cook’s Illustrated recipe (“Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”) was the spiciest of the bunch, especially with the ginger; with a medium-crumb (whatever that means – lol – I might be inventing things). The frosting is really good; they have you reserve a smidge of the spices that you mix for the cake to beat into the cream cheese.

    Again, absolutely gorgeous cake! Amazing that it’s coming so naturally to you; that is the cool thing about mastering something!

  3. Sonya – Thanks! I did look at Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe before deciding. I chose the other recipe just because it was designed to be a layer cake. I’m sure I could have adapted CI’s sheet cake recipe into a layer cake, but for an event like this, I wanted to play it safe. I didn’t know about Cook’s Country’s recipe; I subscribe to the magazine but not the website, so I can’t view recipes from them.

  4. Looks pretty fancy to me. Really cool that you use spice cake for the cake. It
    would surprise people.