Spice up your cake for the holidays

Holiday Spice Cake

December is that time of year where you have more excuses to make cake, Newsletter - Dec15 - SpiceCakeright? Now you can break out all those sweet winter spices and get baking! One cake I’ve been wanting to make for ages is an old fashioned spice cake, the one my grandmother used to make for us when I was a child. Unfortunately, she passed away before I was able to learn how she made it. It took many attempts, and my neighbors drew their curtains when they saw me heading over with yet another cake for them to try, but I finally got it.  It is probably the moistest cake I’ve ever made, filled with just the right amount of all those delicious winter spices.

It uses brown sugar instead of white sugar, which gives it a caramel-like flavor which fits well with the spices. If I was living in the US, I would have make it with a cream cheese frosting but since blocks of cream cheese are not easy to come by, sour cream makes a great substitute. The slight tanginess of the frosting balances out the sweetness of the cake.

Although I’m still not totally knowledgeable about all the science behind baking, this cake does end up domed even though there is so much leavening, oil/applesauce and liquid. With that said, you can either use cake strips to help prevent this happening or you can cut the extra little portion off the top and eat it. Feel free to increase the amount of spice used in the cake. This version is about medium, important if you have kids who don’t like strong flavors. On the plus side, if you make the cake taste the way you want it there will be more for you ☺

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Happy Holidays!

For cake

  • 172g all-purpose flour
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp baking powder (sütőpor)
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp baking soda (szódabikarbóna)
  • 5 mL / .5 tsp salt
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp ground ginger (gyömbér)
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp ground cinnamon (fahéj)
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp nutmeg (szerecsendió)
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp ground allspice (vegyesfűszer – not easy to find)
  • 5 mL / .5 tsp ground cloves (szegfűszeg)
  • 175 ml sunflower oil
  • 185 g / 2/3 cup of applesauce
  • 350 g packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 240 mL /1 cup (kefir or buttermilk at room temperature
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp vanilla extract

For frosting

  • 400 g sour cream
  • 490 g / 2 cups powdered sugar (if not available, grind regular sugar with hand blender till fine)
  • 5 mL / 1 tsp vanilla extract or sachet of vanilla sugar.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two round cake pans well with sunflower oil and then lightly dust with flour and shake out excess. Optional: Wrap cake strips around pan to keep cake from doming while baking.
  • Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves until incorporated.
  • In a standing mixer, pour brown sugar, breaking down with fingertips until no clumps remain. Add vegetable oil and applesauce, set mixer with paddle attachment and blend until even.
  • Mix in beaten eggs and vanilla.
  • Add in 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix on low. When combined add kefir or buttermilk, then remaining 1/2 of the flour mixture.
  • Divide mixture evenly among two prepared baking pans and cook about 28 – 32 minutes.

For the frosting:

  • Mix fine sugar with sour cream and beat until smooth and consistent.