cardamom spiced layer cake with cream cheese frosting and candied lemon peel – sweet spice

by Michelle

spice cake

On Saturday, I put out a plea for help via Twitter and Facebook for some dessert suggestions to follow a penne venison Bolognese. Everyone and rightly so suggested fresh light sweets to clean up our palates after what they anticipated would be a heavy sauce. As much as I appreciated the threads, I was feeling like something rich, decadent and substantial. So I took a flavour suggestion of cardamom and lemon and made a cake! Typically the spices listed for a spice cake include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sometimes ginger. It was the Silver Palate girls that taught me to include cardamom. 

spice cake

The cake and icing are a snap but the candied lemon peel takes some time. I had some leftover from Christmas so I used it to decorate my cake. If you don’t have time to make your own, not to worry, the cake is fabulous with just the cream cheese frosting. In my adaptation of this cake, I use dried black mission figs. If you have trouble finding them, the original recipe called for dried prunes which are equally as good. I know, prunes in a cake sounds horrible. I promise, this is one of the most delicious cakes you’ll ever make. The fruit ends up in little bits and helps to keep the cake moist. I served hefty slices Saturday night to which each guest in turn said, ‘oh – that’s too big’. There wasn’t a speck left!

spice cake

Spicy Layer Cake – adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cook Book

30 dried black mission figs, quartered
1/3 cup spiced rum
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350*F

Butter and flour 3 – 8” cake tins
Place figs, rum and enough water to cover fruit by ½” in a small pot over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Beat butter with the sugars until light and fluffy then add eggs one at a time. Beat well.
Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with buttermilk.
Drain figs, saving ½ cup of the cooking liquid to add to the cake batter. Mix well
Add drained figs and fold in.
Divide batter between the three cake tins and place in preheated oven. Check cakes at 30 minutes – the tester should come out clean.
Allow cakes to cool 10 minutes then remove from pans onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


½ cup butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 cups icing sugar

Zest and enough juice of 1 lemon to make the frosting a spreadable consistency.

Place all ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until creamy.

Enough frosting for top, sides and between! Decorate with candied lemon peel.

Refrigerate until needed.

THE LOVE: This cake is even better if made a day in advance.

printable copy

spice cake

one year ago: fusilli with tuna and spicy grape tomatoes

Thanks for reading.