Buttermilk Spice Cake

This Buttermilk Spice Cake gets its kick from cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. It has three layers of cake with seafoam frosting in between and 100% from scratch.

When fall hits, I crave spice cake. I’ve learned over the years that spice cakes are not all created equally. Some have a strong cinnamon flavor and others have molasses or nutmeg and allspice that shines through. But every now and then you get one that is actually a little “spicy”. And if you like a lot of flavor like me, then this cake is for you.

buttermilk spice cake on a spatula

Why you’ll love this cake:

  • 100% homemade cake and frosting
  • Unique spice combination: cinnamon, cloves and black pepper
  • 7 minute frosting that tastes like marshmallow cream
  • Buttermilk keeps the cake moist and adds flavor
  • Stands tall with 3 layers of cake

Key Ingredients

  • Cake flour. Do you have to use cake flour? Not necessarily, but it will give you the correct texture and a light crumb. If a recipe calls for cake flour, it is what you should use for best results. Either way, measure your flour correctly. Spoon the flour lightly into a measuring cup, then level it with a knife.
  • Shortening. Although many cakes call for butter, this recipe uses shortening. Shortening has a higher melting point and cakes made with it tend to rise a little higher and be a little lighter in texture than those with butter. If you don’t want to use shortening, you can swap it out for room temperature butter and use the same amount.
  • Dark brown sugar. This ingredient gives your cake more robust flavor and darker color, but if you only have light brown sugar, you can use that.
  • Buttermilk. Buttermilk is a must for this recipe. However, if you don’t have buttermilk, simply add ½ tablespoon of white vinegar to the ½ cup measuring cup, then fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk. After a few minutes, the milk will start to curdle slightly. This will work as a substitute for buttermilk.

Tips to Make the Buttermilk Spice Cake

  • This recipe makes enough batter to have a 9″ round 3 layer cake. If you only have 8″ round pans, you can use them, but you may need to make 4 layers. If the sides of the pan are tall though, you should be ok to use 3 8″. The cakes may take slightly longer to bake with an 8″ cake pan.
  • Mix together the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately. It may seem like a pain and that you’re are dirtying extra dishes, but it really does make a difference in the texture of the cake.
  • Cream the shortening and sugars for 2-3 minutes. Again, time yourself and mix for that set amount of time for the best textured cake.
  • Bake the cakes right after mixing and filling the pans since the baking powder and soda will be activated. This means you’ll need the oven preheated and ready to go.
  • Don’t open the door of the oven unless you think it is done. Those temperature changes can make the cake fall. The center of the cake should spring back when you touch it.
a slice of 3 layer spice cake on a plate with a fork

Seafoam Frosting

Seafoam frosting is the brown sugar version of old fashioned 7 minute frosting. It sounds complicated to make, but it is really quite easy and you’ll end up with a fluffy, light frosting that isn’t overly sweet.

  • Combine the egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. Mix thoroughly.
  • Place over boiling water and beat constantly until mixture holds a peak. This will take at least 7 minutes, but most likely closer to 10 minutes. Don’t be stingy with your time and the frosting will turn out beautifully.
  • Remove from the heat. Add vanilla and beat until thick enough to spread.

Storage Instructions

Store this cake covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that, refrigerate it.

a piece of buttermilk spice cake on a spatula
a piece of buttermilk spice cake on a spatula

Buttermilk Spice Cake

5 from 1 vote
This Buttermilk Spice Cake gets its kick from cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. It has three layers of cake with seafoam frosting in between and 100% from scratch.
Servings 15
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash of black pepper
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Seafoam Frosting

  • 2 large egg whites unbeaten
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar firmly packed
  • cup cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Make the cake:

  • Grease 3 9” cake pans with shortening, then dust with flour. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, soda, cloves and black pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.
  • Mix in the vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, mixing after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.
  • Bake for 23-25 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when you touch it.
  • Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the seafoam frosting.

  • Combine the egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. Mix thoroughly.
  • Place over boiling water and beat constantly until mixture holds a peak. This will take at least 7 minutes, but most likely closer to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Add vanilla and beat until thick enough to spread.
  • Makes 5-6 cups of frosting.

Assemble the cake:

  • Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Top with the frosting.
  • Then repeat with the second layer of cake and more frosting.
  • Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours, then refrigerate.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**
Recipe Source: Pillsbury Bake Off Cake Cookbook

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 259mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 81IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 364
Keyword layer cake, spice cake

About Julie Clark

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