Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy 4-Year Anniversary, Buttermilk Spice Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting!

This spice cake is like a good, reliable, drama-free friend in front of whom you can wear your sweats. One bite of this guy and you'll be telling him all your secrets. Warm, plush, light, and enticing, with flavors that blend seamlessly... *sigh* Since finding this beautifully designed recipe four years ago, it's been my birthday cake of choice.
My very first time making the spice cake back in January '08, just a couple weeks before meeting my husband. I was crazy enough to attempt Martha Stewart's gingerbread townhouses in an effort to create a town square cake for a New Year's party I threw for over 100 singles in the D.C. area. A great night with great friends! (from left to right: Me, Callie, Rachel, and Destiny)

Since I'm so in love with this one, I decided to document each step of the process with photos for your viewing pleasure. 
Buttermilk Spice Cake
adapted slightly from a recipe by Emeril Legasse
Cook Time: 25 min
Serves 16

2 cups brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup of milk + 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar. Don't combine until read to use!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 2 (9-inch) parchment paper rounds and line the pan bottoms. (Do not skip this step, no matter how well you think you can grease and flour those puppies. Just trust me.) Grease and flour the parchment rounds.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter. 
I like to keep my brown sugar in its lovely jar alongside the other staple ingredients in their lovely jars, but it dries out so easily! So, I put the brown sugar in a plastic bag and then set the bag in the jar. Perfectly moist!

With the mixer running, add the oil in a steady stream. 
Vegetable oil gives the cake a soft and moist feeling (even though Alton Brown says oil isn't technically wet- it just reads that way in our mouths.)

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Yolks add moisture, while whites offer structure.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium-size mixing bowl. 

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice make the winter go 'round.

After being sifted it looks as soft as a baby's bottom. :) Don't skip this part! It helps to make the texture of the cake light and fluffy.

Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, mixing well. 
These are the only things you need to make your own buttermilk!

1 Tablespoon added to the 1 cup of milk will do it. Use it right away before the milk curdles!

Tell me you don't want to swipe your finger across the bottom of that paddle and lick it!
With the electric mixer, in another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
David Lebovitz suggests investing in a second mixing bowl to go with your mixer so you don't find yourself having to clean one in the middle of the baking process. But, alas, I don't have a spare one, so I gave mine a thorough rinse.

Looks like a little gnome, don't you think?

Then fold them into the cake batter. 
The folding motion happens more top-to-bottom as if you're gently trying to get what's at the very bottom and bring it to the top, scraping the sides as needed. The idea is to keep as much of the air in the egg whites as possible. 

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. 

Bake until the center springs back when touched, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks. After the cakes have cooled, invert them onto sheets of parchment paper. Slice each cake in half and set aside.

Spread a layer of the frosting (recipe follows) over 3 layers of the cake. Place the layers of cake on top of each other and top with the fourth layer of cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Dust lightly with cinnamon, if desired.
Now for the frosting!
Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from a recipe by Cathy Lowe

8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.


  1. Janna, that looks delicious! I might need to accommodate my diet to include it...maybe for Valentine's day. :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. That looks SO good! I'm going to have to try that! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Making this today for my grandmas 86th bday! Thanks for sharing :)