As you leave for your holiday vacations, and make a mental list of all the goodies you might bake for a big Christmas feast, or to give out to friends and neighbors, I suggest you make room for spice cake on your list. It's better than fruitcake, it's less work than cookies, and it smells more festive than a pine-tree scented candle that someone re-gifted to you. You can even get fancy with it and bake it in lots of different layers, if you are so inclined, as the original version of this Dutch by way of Indonesia cake is sometimes made. You can make mini-ones for easy gifting, or pour the whole batter into a bundt pan, as I did, and than go do something else, like watch It's a Wonderful Life for the twentieth time.
Traditionally baked in many, many, layers it is often visually impressive. Click here and here for examples of how cool it can look if you want to spend the time. But, the thousand layer presentation is not my reason for posting this cake for you, it's simply the ease of it compared to the countless hours that you can spend decorating holiday cookies. If you're feelings time-pressured, or you happen to be short decorating elves, as I am, this might be a good alternative to the usual cookie sweatshop that I turned my kitchen into last year. Don't get me wrong, I loooove holiday cookie baking, and as I write this I'm still considering how many types I will eventually end of baking. But, this year, for my initial baking tasks, I went with a cake, after a conversation with a friend about what a time-savor it could be. Most importantly, spice cake belongs at the holidays. It's got that holiday smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, and it's not too too sweet for those scrooge types who don't appreciate sweets. I found this recipe a few years back on Leite's Culinaria and have made it once a year every year since because everyone who tastes it seems to approve heartily. It has a perfect light texture, and really could be made in a tube pan, a more decorative bundt pan, or mini loaf pans. I hope you give it a try, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with all matters of sweet things.
Spekkoek Adapted from James Oseland, Cradle of Flavor. If you choose to make it in mini-loaf pans, I'd adjust the baking time to 30-40 minutes depending on your oven, checking it at the 30 minute mark.
2 cups sifted cake flour (or 2 cups minus 4 Tbsp of all-purpose flour) 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice (depending on your taste preferences) 4 teaspoons cinnamon Pinch of salt 1 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature) 1 2/3 cup sugar 4 eggs (room temperature) 3 egg yolks 2 teaspoons vanilla Powdered sugar to decorate
Take your butter and eggs out and let them come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and flour a bundt pan (unless you have a non-stick one).
Sift the flour, baking powder, spices (nutmeg - cinnamon) and salt. Sift twice.
With an electric mixer cream the butter until very soft, then slowly add sugar. Beat on high for 5 minutes until mixture is pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat for another 2 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 parts beating on low until well incorporated. Add eggs yolks and vanilla. Mix until combined.
Pour cake into bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. To make sure it's done, test to make sure toothpick comes out clean from thick part of the cake.
Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before flipping out of the pan onto a plate. Let cool completely and then dust the top with powdered sugar.