Season for Spice Cake

spice cake and pumpkin ice

When my dad came home with a pint of Dr. Mike’s Pumpkin Ice Cream (YUM!) we needed a complimentary baked good that would pair well with the creamy, nutty, distinct pumpkin flavor. My first thought was gingerbread, but I wasn’t in the mood for cookies, and neither was the family. I settled on this recipe for spice cake from Bon Appetit in December of 1998. The cake is their recipe, but I altered the frosting slightly to be my own, because I wanted more of a maple glaze. What really adds the special flavor to this recipe is the crystallized ginger, with a sweet little kick when you take a bite.

For cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

For Frosting

  • 1 lb confectioners sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 3 tsp. maple syrup

spice cake and pumpkin ice 2

Make cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray 10-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; spray paper. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Gradually beat in molasses, then 1 cup boiling water. Mix in grated orange peel. Gradually mix in dry ingredients.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to rack and cool 15 minutes. Run knife around pan sides. Turn cake out onto rack; peel off paper. Cool.

Make filling and frosting:
Beat the butter and maple syrup together. Add 2 Tbsp. of milk and beat until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with another tablespoon or two of milk (milk will change the consistency).

Frost the cake once it is cool, and if you would like to create a cool, dripping effect, you can layer frosting on top of the cake and around the top edges while it is still a bit warm, and watch the melting frosting create smooth drops of frosting around the sides of the cake.


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