Christmas Spice Cake

This post has affiliate links to products I use and love. If you buy something I can make a small commission, so thanks in advance. 🙂

Christmas is a wonderful holiday for so many reasons. Not the least of which is the abundance of exotic and special spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon which show up in lots of recipes and dishes this time of year. In this version of Christmas Spice Cake, I’ll introduce you to a beloved spice blend from my family’s Dutch heritage.

Christmas is celebrated around the world, and each culture has it’s own unique traditions and dishes. I have been inspired to bake Christmas Cakes since watching the UK hit, The Great British Bake Off. And while I knew I wanted a Christmas Spice Cake this year, the usual recipes I searched were not inspiring me. So I took a trip back in time.


beautiful white cake with miniature deer decorations

This cookbook was gifted to my mother when she got married in 1963. I literally grew up with this cookbook. I love looking through the well loved pages, and while browsing, I found a cake recipe that jumped out at me.

I found the perfect spice cake recipe, and was struck by the simplicity of ingredients.



I gave it a wee update and converted to grams for ease of use. The cake also utilizes the special container of Speculaas spice in my baking cupboard. You will need a few specific ingredients to get this cake just right, but it’s so worth it!


special ingredients for the spice cake, cake flour and speculaas spice
Cake flour and Speculaas spice are a must have.

Speculaas is used in a type of spiced short crust biscuit, traditionally baked on or just before St Nicholas’ day in the Netherlands (5 December), and around Christmas in Germany and Austria.

The spices used to create Speculaas are pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. The mix I have is perfectly balanced, and honest to goodness, once you’ve had anything with speculaas, you will wonder what you’ve been doing with your life all this time.

Here are the ingredients for today’s Christmas spice cake:


Ingredients for Christmas Spice Cake

Ingredients for Christmas Spice Cake:

  • Cake Flour: cake flour is more finely milled and gives a much lighter texture
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Speculass spice blend: A unique blend that once tried is never forgotten
  • Light Brown Sugar: milder than darker versions
  • Caster Sugar: more finely milled and generally better suited to tender baked goods
  • Shortening: you could sub in butter in equivalent measurements, but don’t knock the butter flavored Crisco if you haven’t tried it
  • Buttermilk: I use buttermilk in any recipe that calls for a dairy component
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract


Mixing Instructions for Christmas Spice Cake:

  • Beat shortening on medium speed until light in color and fluffy in appearance. About 2 minutes.
  • Rain in the sugars and cream together until well combined and sugar is dissolved. Mixer will be on medium to medium high speed and this part will take 2-3 minutes.
  • I always add flavorings, in this case vanilla extract, during the creaming process so the fat can absorb the flavor. In this case the shortening, though I do it for butter recipes, too.
  • Add the room temperature eggs one at a time beating in each egg until thoroughly mixed before adding the next.
  • You will have combined the dry ingredients and whisked them together while the mixture is creaming.
  • Turn the mixer off and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Run mixer on low speed and once the streaks of flour disappear, slowly pour in about half the buttermilk. Let mixer run until this is well combined.
  • Turn the mixer off and add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Run mixer on low speed and once the streaks of flour disappear, slowly pour in the remaining half the buttermilk. Let mixer run until this is well combined.
  • Turn the mixer off and add the remaining 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Run mixer on low speed until the streaks of flour disappear. Once the streaks are gone, turn mixer up to medium speed and let it run for 2 minutes. This part is similar to what we do with a cake mix.
  • Divide the finished cake batter between two prepared 6″ cake pans. Each pan with take approximately 350 grams of batter.


Baking and cooling instructions:

  • Bake in a preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes.
  • Cakes are done when they pull away from the sides of the pan and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool cakes in the pan for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.
  • Once cooled run an offset spatula around the inside of the cake pan and gently invert the pan to turn the baked cakes out.
  • Allow them to cool completely.
  • If baking a day ahead, put cooled cakes into air tight containers for up to 3 days ahead before decorating.

crumb coated layer cake

Tips for decorating your Christmas Spice Cake:

  • This cake is pretty soft and very crumby, so if you want your frosted cake to look as nice as possible, a crumb coat is absolutely necessary. Don’t worry, because it’s easy. To crumb coat, simply apply a light coating of frosting and scrape it down so it’s close to the cake surface. Put the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes so the frosting can set up and “harden” which will encase the surface of the cake ensuring the crumbs are locked in.
  • Use a cake leveler to cut even layers. Even though this is a small, 6″ cake, the layers look impressive. I use an inexpensive cake leveler and cut each layer in half giving me a 4 layer cake from my 2 small pans.
  • Invest in an offset spatula. I love this tool and I don’t know why I waited so long to get a few. It makes the biggest difference when frosting cakes and cupcakes. Definitely get a set if you don’t already have them
  • I used plastic miniatures to decorate the top of the cake along with rosemary sprigs I cut from my garden. This won’t be the last time I do this, because it was unbelievably easy and utterly adorable. I used fawns because the deer is my favorite winter motif, and they were precious on this cake top.
  • I used gold sparkling sugar that I literally threw at the bottom of the cake. Super easy and so pretty.

When it was finished, I had a gorgeous little Woodland Inspired Christmas Cake.


beautiful white cake with miniature deer decorations

Adding powdered sugar to the top of your cake will look like snow on the rosemary trees and on the tiny deer.

There is not a child, or an adult for that matter, on the planet who would not have their hearts melted at the sight of 3 tiny fawns on a cake top with rosemary trees. And if they are not suitably moved by this, then I gently suggest that perhaps you need some new people in your life.


powdered sugar snow on deer miniatures on top of a white cake

When I started to research spice cakes, I found that ALL them had cream cheese frosting. And it just seemed so carrot cake to me. This is a CHRISTMAS cake after all. A cake made to honor the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. So I wanted something more special.

White Chocolate frosting seemed to be the solution:

  • White chocolate frosting would have enough structure to hold up under 4 layers of cakes.
  • It would be sufficiently swirly to look like fresh fallen snow.
  • The white chocolate would balance the speculaas spice perfectly.
  • I wound up adapting a recipe I found, and changed the sugar measurement to 316 grams to honor the Bible passage John 3:16 as it seemed so fitting to honor the birth of our saviour.

“For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but may have life everlasting.”

John 3:16

Here is the finished cake sliced and ready for your enjoyment.



Christmas Spice cake with perfect texture, crumb and flavor. Easy to decorate using miniatures and so easy to personalize.

On a last note, if you don’t know, I love doggies. I had a much beloved Golden Retriever, and I adore that breed so much. Allow me to share my Golden Retriever Christmas Cake variation with you. Because as I understand it, all the animals paid their respects to the swaddled babe on Christmas night, and I’m pretty sure a Golden Retriever was in attendance.


White cake with golden retriever miniature on top for a decoration
Golden Retriever Christmas Spice Cake

You might also like:

colorful garland used as a separator
Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
powdered sugar snow on deer miniatures on top of a white cake

Christmas Spice Cake

  • Author: Patty McGuire
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: international

Description

Christmas is a wonderful holiday for so many reasons. Not the least of which is the abundance of exotic and special spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon which show up in lots of recipes and dishes this time of year. In this version of Christmas Spice Cake, I’ll introduce you to a beloved spice blend from my family’s Dutch heritage.

 


Ingredients

Scale

For the Cake:

  • 1 2/3 cups (180 grams) Cake Flour: cake flour is more finely milled and gives a much lighter texture
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Speculass spice blend: A unique blend that once tried is never forgotten
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) Light Brown Sugar: milder than darker versions
  • 2/3 cup (127 gCaster Sugar: more finely milled and generally better suited to tender baked goods
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) Shortening: you could sub in butter in equivalent measurements, but don’t knock the butter flavored Crisco if you haven’t tried it
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) Buttermilk: I use buttermilk in any recipe that calls for a dairy component
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1 cup (170 grams) white chocolate. I recommend the melts from Ghirardelli.
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature 
  • 2 2/3 cups (316 grams) powdered sugar (sifted AFTER measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Properly prepare 2 6″ cake pans. This recipe is for a small cake. It bakes two 6″ cake rounds that are then sliced in half to make 4 layers.
  3. Beat shortening on medium speed until light in color and fluffy in appearance. About 2 minutes.
  4. Rain in the sugars and cream together until well combined and sugar is dissolved. Mixer will be on medium to medium high speed and this part will take 2-3 minutes.
  5. I always add flavorings, in this case vanilla extract, during the creaming process so the fat can absorb the flavor. In this case the shortening, though I do it for butter recipes, too.
  6. Add the room temperature eggs one at a time beating in each egg until thoroughly mixed before adding the next.
  7. You will have combined the dry ingredients and whisked them together while the mixture is creaming.
  8. Turn the mixer off and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Run mixer on low speed and once the streaks of flour disappear, slowly pour in about half the buttermilk. Let mixer run until this is well combined.
  9. Turn the mixer off and add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Run mixer on low speed and once the streaks of flour disappear, slowly pour in the remaining half the buttermilk. Let mixer run until this is well combined.
  10. Turn the mixer off and add the remaining 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Run mixer on low speed until the streaks of flour disappear. Once the streaks are gone, turn mixer up to medium speed and let it run for 2 minutes. This part is similar to what we do with a cake mix.
  11. Divide the finished cake batter between two prepared 6″ cake pans. Each pan with take approximately 350 grams of batter.

For the Frosting:

  • Melt the chocolate low and slow, because it will seize if melted under too high of heat. I use a chocolate pot on low to melt my chocolates, but use your favorite method.
  • Once melted, set chocolate aside to cool until no longer warm to the touch. Don’t put warmed chocolate into butter, because the butter will melt. Not ideal for frosting!
  • While chocolate is cooling, place room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until creamy. About 2 minutes.
  • Turn mixer off, scrape down sides and add cooled chocolate. Run mixer on medium to combine chocolate and butter until well whipped. About 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add in the clear vanilla extract.
  • Add sifted powdered sugar in two additions, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl in between to ensure everything is well combined. Whip mixture on medium high for about 2 minutes after EACH addition.
  • While mixer is running add pinch of salt.
  • With mixer on low-speed, add heavy cream to frosting as needed. You might want to use it all, or might only use some of it. Monitor the texture of you frosting carefully. Increase speed to medium high and beat for 30-60 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. It should be light and fluffy.
  • Pipe or spread frosting onto prepared, cooled baked goods.

 


Notes

  • Adding a few drops of white food coloring will make frosting even brighter. I added a few drops at the end of mixing. I only use Americolor gel paste food coloring. It’s optional, but I love the result.
  • The golden sprinkles are my favorite! Gold sanding sugar is available in the grocery store and even in Home Goods where I found this very pretty bottle full of gold sprinkles.
  • The fairy forest is constructed with a few fresh Rosemary sprigs. Trim them and turn upside down.
  • I decorated this cake with miniatures picked up in the craft store. I’ve seen really cute ones in Tractor Supply as well, if you are close to one of those.

closeup of gold sugar used to decorate baked goods

beautiful white cake with miniature deer decorations

Keywords: Christmas Spice Cake


A signature that reads with love and cupcake, Patty. My signoff for every blog post. A script font with an illustration of a cupcake is included.

smiling woman in a sewing room. a portrait of the author, Pattymac

Hi! I’m Pattymac

Sewist, baker, maker

I’m a creative lifestyle blogger living and working in Coastal Virginia. When I’m not mixing or stitching or taking pictures, I’m out exploring the cook book section of my favorite library or munching my own home baked cookies at a mid week movie matinee.


Similar Posts