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October 21, 2009

October Spice Cake with Cardamom-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


Today is my birthday! And just like every birthday for the last six years, I made a dessert to share with my friends and family. I know it's odd and might even seem a little self-aggrandizing, but it's something I really look forward to doing every year.
The last three or four birthdays I've made cookies, but this year I thought I would make something a little different. This is actually the third time I've made this recipe in the last few weeks. As it bakes, it fills the entire house with the quintessential aroma of autumn. Wisps of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and cardamom gently fill the kitchen and then slowly pervade the rest of the house like creeping ivy. Even after the cake is long gone, the scent of it baking in the oven will linger for a day or two.

The roasted pecans give the cake a wonderful crunch and add just the right amount of texture to this dense little cake. And the cream cheese frosting? Well, cardamom is my favorite spice when it comes to baking and I just love the way the two work together. The unexpected floral notes of the cardamom warm up the tartness of the cream cheese and make the frosting something special. There's a bit of cinnamon in there too just to balance everything and to keep the cardamom from being too overwhelming.

As for turning 35? I’m not sad! So far my thirties have been pretty darn amazing. I wonder what this year has in store!




October Spice Cake
Yield: One recipe makes about 9 to 16 servings.
adapted from Gourmet

Cake
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe's) or you can use 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plain, unsweetened applesauce - I love Santa Cruz brand (shake/mix the container of applesauce prior to measuring) Tip: I found the Trader Joe's brand to be too bland and would not recommend using it this recipe.
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Cardamom-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
5 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/5 teaspoon ground cardamom

Cake
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Butter a 9-inch square cake pan and set aside. While the oven is preheating, spread an even layer of chopped pecans into an oven proof pan (I use a stainless steel frying pan) and place into the oven. When the oven reaches 350F, set a timer for 3 minutes. Remove the pan and allow the nuts to cool while you prepare the cake. Don't turn off the oven.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.


Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce (it will curdle, but don't worry). At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the pecans (if using).


Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Re-invert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Cardamom-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.


Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.



35 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday Julia, thanks for sharing your birthday cake.

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  2. i can't really think of too many birthday cakes that'd be superior to this--i can tell why it's a favorite. happy birthday, julia!

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  3. Happy B’day Julia.

    Cake was delicious….best part was it wasn’t very sweet.

    Thanks for sharing..

    Pooja

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  4. Happy Birthday! This looks delicious!

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  5. Happy, happy birthday! This is going on my "must make" list. My mom made Spice Cake a lot. I miss it.

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  6. Happy Birthday from another October baby! Love the sound of this cake! I have it bookmarked!
    I am not a traditionalist with those awful cakes...so this looks fabulous. I love cardamom too...all these fall spices are so great.

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  7. This is a beautiful cake and oh, Happy Birthday!

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  8. You and I are cardamom buddies. I think I'll make it this weekend ;-) Hope your day was a s special as you are!

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  9. Happy Birthday!!!! I think I will have to try that cake myself.

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  10. Happy Birthday! Cake looks like a keeper.

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  11. Happy Birthday! My birthday is today (Oct 22) and I also turn 35. I agree with you, my thirties have been awesome, too. This cake looks fabulous. I can't wait to try it.

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  12. The cake sounds delicious. Hope that you had a great birthday.

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  13. I hope this year brings you nothing but wonderful experiences and good times! (I know you deserve!)

    Happy belated birthday. Hope your day was as special as you are!

    Thanks for the recipe. It sounds like a winner. I just used cardamom for the first time and have been kicking myself for waiting so long! (You didn't tell me! Ha-ha!)
    ~ingrid

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  14. Hope you had a Lovely Birthday Julia!

    Nothing like a good spice cake in the fall to perk you right up :D

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  15. My SO has been wanting Spice Cake for a long time now. I think I'll whip this up for him. Looks phenomenal. Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Happy Birthday! This looks like an awesome cake. Can't wait to try it.

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  17. Happy Birthday Julia!!! I hope you have a wonderful, special day!! I love reading your blog and I think you are a very talented baker! This cake looks delicious!

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  18. Happy birthday, and can I come? Just kidding (sort of...) That looks amazing and I love, love, love, love, love cardamom! I'm so excited to try this. Thank you!

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  19. This looks delicious. Happy birthday!

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  20. Happy Birthday! May your year be as sweet and spicy as your birthday cake :)

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  21. This cake looks perfectly moist and delicious. Too bad I couldn't attend your birthday celebration! Cheers.

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  22. Happy birthday - the cake looks and sounds delicious.

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  23. oh - delicious!! Thanks for sharing and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

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  24. Happy Birthday!! Your spice cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate - yum!

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  25. Happy Birthday, Julia! I'm looking forward to making this for my book club next week - it looks/sounds wonderful! My friends all think I'm a really good cook, but my secret is knowing where to find the best recipes! Thank you! ;)

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  26. This looks divine! Happy late birthday!

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  27. Happy Birthday! I make my own birthday cake too... something about us food bloggers being overachievers. Yours looks incredible!

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  28. wow this looks amazing ..
    am gonna try to do it tomorrow .. but i need to ask u this first .. is there a Substitute for the Applesauce in the recipe? cuz i cant find it in my town :( .. is it that necessary ?
    thanks a lot

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  29. Hi Hudoo!

    You wouldn't want to omit the applesauce from the recipe because it's what gives the cake a lot of flavor and moisture. Perhaps you could try using apple butter or a fruit based baby food instead? Or, alternatively you could peel and core two apples, chop them up, and cook them over low-medium heat with a little water until they are good and soft. Then use a fork to mash them up and voila! apple sauce!

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  30. thanks a lot julia..
    wow that's such a relief !.. i didn't think the applesauce will b that easy =] .. am defiantly making it tomorrow .. yaay xD

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  31. Ok..I thought I'd better comment seeing as I'm baking this again tonight (second time this week). My husband and I really enjoyed it! Really moist too. I'm following exactly this time..last I didn't have apple-sauce so I used what I had- an apple and the rest pineapple. It was fine. Thanks for this great recipe. I've got you saved! Aloha from the Big Island-

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  32. AnonymousJuly 14, 2010

    Baked this, it didn't last long ;-) Was delicious. Couldn't find apple sauce my side of the world either so I opened a can of unsweetened pie apples added some lime juice and voila, apple sauce :) it gave the cake moisture and the texture was great! Keep them coming :)
    Carey

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  33. I made this today in cupcake form and it turned out super yummy! :) I can't find cardamom anywhere around here though, so I just added a little ground nutmeg and extra cinnamon to the icing mixture.

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