Three layer spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. This is the perfect Christmas Spice Cake with 5 different spices. Buttermilk keeps it moist.
What desserts do you have in during the Christmas season? There are so many options with delicious pies, Christmas cookies and festive cakes. There are usually several parties we attend during the holidays which mean we have lots of opportunities to showcase desserts like this Christmas Spice Cake.
Take a peek at this 3 layer beauty. Isn’t it so pretty?
Why you’ll love this spice cake:
- The cake and the frosting are 100% from scratch
- Makes a small, but tall 3 layer cake.
- 5 spices give this cake amazing flavor.
- Simply decorated with cranberries for a festive look.
What spices are in spice cake?
What makes up the flavor of this spice cake? Here are the 5 spices:
- Cinnamon. A classic that everyone should have in the cupboards.
- Ginger. Peppery and sweet.
- Nutmeg. Rich and warm.
- Clove. Adds warmth. A slight bitterness that pairs well with sweet desserts.
- Anise. Strong and sweet, with a licorice-like taste.
Tips for Making this Christmas Spice Cake
- Do I have to use all of the spices? Ground anise is the only spice that you can skip without making too much of an impact on the final flavor of the cake. All the other spices (i.e. cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove) are crucial to giving this cake the right spice aroma which makes it so special.
- Espresso powder in this recipe is meant to enrich all the cocoa and spice flavors. If you don’t have the espresso powder at home, instead of skipping the ingredient completely I recommend adding a teaspoon of instant coffee. Trust me, this is one of the secret ingredients here!
- If you’re out of buttermilk, you can use milk instead and mix it with 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice. However, I strongly recommend using actual buttermilk for this recipe. The acids will interact nicely with baking soda and will help make the cake rise.
- We made 3 7″ round cakes. You can make a 2 layer cake or even 4 6″ cakes. Just watch the baking time because every pan will be slightly different. You can use a springform pan or a cake pan, but make sure the pans have tall sides.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting it, or the frosting will melt right off.
- The cake is topped and served with fresh cranberries which go perfectly with the sweet flavor of the cake and the frosting. If desired, you can also top the cake with sugar coated cranberries but the cake will have a much sweeter kick to it. Another topping idea here is to use any sour fruit of your choice as a topping (e.g. red currants, cherries).
Because of the cream cheese in this frosting, it is best to store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can refrigerate for up to 3 days, then freeze any leftovers.
Christmas Spice Cake
For the cake:
- 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour 400 grams
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- a pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ teaspoon ground anise
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar 350 grams
- 1 cup unsalted butter 200 grams
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cup buttermilk 350 ml
- 3 tablespoons milk (can be plant-based) 45 ml
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
For the frosting:
- 7 ounces cold heavy whipping cream 200 grams
- 8 ounces philadelphia cheese 225 grams
- 1 ⅓ cup powdered sugar 150 grams
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 ounces fresh cranberries 60 grams
Make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C). Grease and line the base and sides of three 7 inch (18 cm) cake tins.
- In a large bowl whisk together: flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, espresso powder, salt, spices and sugar.
- In a small pot melt butter. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients: eggs, buttermilk, milk, vanilla extract and honey.
- Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Add melted butter. Whisk just until combined.
- Split the batter equally between the 3 tins. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, at 355°F (180°C).
- Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack, before assembling the cake.
Make the frosting:
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream heavy cream on a high mixer speed until light and fluffy (approx. 6-8 minutes).
- Cut the cream cheese into cubes.
- Add the cream cheese, a few cubes at a time, until you've added all of the cream cheese. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute until blended.
- Scrape down sides of the bowl, add sugar, salt and cinnamon and mix for 1 more minute. Split the frosting into 3: 2 smaller parts and 1 larger.
Assemble the cake:
- Place the first cake on a plate or a cake stand. Top with the first, smaller serving of frosting.
- Then, layer with the second and third cake with a serving of frosting in between.
- Finish off with the third, biggest serving of the frosting and garnish with washed and drained cranberries or your fruit of choice.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.