A deep flavored, rich homemade cake with spiced buttercream frosting. This molasses spice cake is perfect for the holiday season! You may also love our gingerbread snack cake.
Molasses Spice Cake Recipe
If there is one flavor our family loves during the holiday season, it is molasses. It’s the key ingredient in gingerbread but also can be the base of a delicious spice cake. This spice cake is homemade but is very forgiving and is easier than you may think!
Types of Molasses
For this recipe you’ll want to use a dark molasses rather than light, but even within dark molasses flavors, there are several different products. Unsulphured molasses is generally the type of molasses used in baking. Grandma’s Molasses Brand is the molasses commonly found in stores. The “original” style of this brand is the kind we most often use at home. Sulphured molasses just means they’ve added sulfur dioxide to prevent fermenting and give it a longer shelf life. It will taste the same as unsulphured.
Blackstrap molasses is generally not used for baking because it is so bitter. It is the product of boiling sugar cane or sugar beet the third time, so it is dark, thick and strong flavored. It is the healthiest molasses, however, being rich in vitamins and minerals.
What Spices are in Spice Cake?
Common spices found in spice cake are cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Sometimes you’ll find allspice. But for this recipe we kept it simple with cinnamon and cloves. These two spices really enhance the flavor of the molasses.
How to Make Spice Cake
You’ll make this cake in 2 8″ round cake pans. Be sure to grease them with shortening and then dust them with flour. You can also use our cake release. This will help the cakes come out cleanly.
In this cake recipe we use shortening. Butter has better flavor, but shortening gives cakes a better texture and lighter crumb. Cream the shortening and sugar together, then add in the eggs and molasses, mixing between each addition.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients into the wet alternately with the buttermilk. This will ensure everything gets mixed together well without over mixing and making the cake tough.
How do you know when cake is done? Touch the center of the cake. It is done when it springs back after touching it. Don’t open the oven door until you think the cake looks done. If you open it too early or too many times, the cake may fall.
Frosting for Spice Cake
So what frosting goes best on spice cake? If you’d like you can use a simple spiced whipped cream as we do in our easy spice cake recipe, but since this is a layer cake, we decided to make a spiced buttercream frosting. Here are some hints when making the frosting:
Use softened butter, but not melted at all. Set out the butter at room temperature for a few hours before making the frosting. The butter should be firm rather than soft, but not cold at all.
Whip the butter with a hand or stand mixer until it is nearly white in appearance.
Add in the vanilla and then start whipping in the powdered sugar. It’s best to add the sugar one cup at a time so the powdered sugar doesn’t go flying all over your kitchen.
Add in the spices. It really doesn’t matter what order you add the ingredients as long as you start with butter and end with milk.
The higher fat the milk, the better. If you have heavy cream, I highly recommend using this in buttercream. it will make it super rich and smooth. The higher fat your milk is, the more tablespoons you will need. Add one or two tablespoons of milk at a time so that the frosting doesn’t get too soft.
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.
Add the eggs and mix well.
Add in the molasses and mix again.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, mixing between each addition.
Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Loosen the edges of the cake, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting:
In a stand mixer bowl, with the mixer on medium speed, whip the butter for 2 minutes until it is almost white in color.
Add in the powdered sugar, spices, vanilla and 4 tablespoons of milk. Beat on low speed for 3-5 minutes, adding in the last tablespoons of milk if the buttercream needs to be thinner.
Assemble the Cake:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate.
Cover the top with frosting.
Place the second cake layer on top of the first.
Frost the top and sides of the cake, smoothing the frosting as you go.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake (and using all of the frosting). To lower the calories, make less frosting and frost it lightly as a "naked" 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.**