Well, it is New Year’s Eve, and it is likely that many of you are beginning to think about your 2009 resolutions. I was starting to think about resolutions as I drove in circles around my gym’s parking lot yesterday, looking for a space. It seems that more people have been jumping on the exercise bandwagon since the glut of the holidays. Not good news for me, since if I spend more than 5 minutes waiting for a parking spot, I’m outta there! (my resolve is weak; I feel shame)
For rest of us, the people who are waiting until the last possible moment to declare the holidays over and the cleanse/dry-out/diet begun, I have a final sweet fix. And if you bake it within the waning hours of December, you can still eat it in the first days of 2009 without guilt, since wastefulness is no way to start a new year. Trust me – I used that justification in 2008, 2006, and 2005 with no qualms!
Spice Cake, from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Baking by Carole Clements
1 1/4 c. milk
2 Tbs. dark corn syrup (I used 1 Tbs. light corn syrup and 1 Tbs. molasses)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. walnuts chopped (to omit walnuts, use 1 1/2 Tbs. more flour and add 2 tsp. vegetable oil to the butter) 1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar 1 egg, at room temperature
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 c. flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbs. finely chopped ginger
2 Tbs. maple syrup (maple syrup was my swap-in for ‘syrup from stem ginger’: feel free to use that if you can find/make it)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two or three (depending on how many layers you want in your cake) 8-inch cake pans with wax/parchment paper and grease. I learned a trick once for lining a round cake pan – fold a square of parchment (or wax) paper in half, then fourths. Now bring the open edges together to form a triangle. Then position the point of the triangle in the center of the pan, as shown in my lovely photo. Cut the parchment paper at the place where it reaches the edge of the pan. Open up your sheet and you should have a perfect circle the size of the bottom of your cake pan.
In a bowl, combine the milk, corn syrup, vanilla and walnuts.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and egg yolks. Add the milk mixture and stir well. [At this point I should note that my batter was one of the ugliest and least promising-looking I’ve ever encountered. It seemed lumpy and greasy and looked like it was separating. I am sure it was due to my substitutions, but in any case the cakes came out really well. So if your batter looks funny, just power through and see what happens! You might get lucky, like I did!]
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and spices 3 times. Add the flour mixture in batches, and fold in carefully after each addition.Divide the cake mixture between the pans. Bake until the cakes spring back when touched lightly – about 25 minutes for 3 layers, a bit longer for 2 layers. Let stand 5 minutes, then unmold and cool on a rack.
For frosting, combine all the ingredients and beat with an electric mixer. Spread the frosting between the layers and over the top.
Then, eat up! I loved this cake, and RJ – a strong proponent of the Duncan Hines “Moist Deluxe” box – agreed that it was super moist and really flavorful. I hope that the below picture can convey that the crumb of this cake was large and not at all dry or dense. If you like walnuts, I think that the added crunch would have been welcome, but we aren’t nut lovers, so this one made us happy. Enjoy!