spice cake

This cake could be frosted, but there might not be enough left to frost after everyone discovers how yummy it is.  So, if you frost it, do so quickly.

There are no prep pictures of this cake because I threw it together on a whim one evening after a bout of tears in the grocery store parking lot.  We’d been decorating for Christmas and we opened up several boxes of things I’d brought from my mom’s house last fall.  It was hard.  Really hard.  Walk-away-to-get-my-car-keys-to-go-to-the-grocery-store-for-some-obscure-item-so-I-can-sit-anonymously-crying-in-the-parking-lot hard.

And if there’s anything to make me feel better in an emotionally charged moment, well, it’s a good cry in a parking lot and baking a cake!

As I said above, if you want to frost it, don’t let anyone near this cake until you’ve done so.  I planned on it (a nice brown butter drizzle would have been excellent), but it was sliced and packed into lunch boxes before I had a chance.  After that, consensus was just leave it be.  It’s perfectly delicious without frosting and frosting is messy in lunch boxes, anyway.  This cake would make a wonderful addition to a holiday brunch buffet, in which case I’d definitely frost it to give it that finishing touch.  I think you’ll love it either way.  Enjoy!

Spice Cake (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)


  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c low-fat buttermilk


  1. Grease a 13×9 baking pan, or grease and lightly flour a 9″ bundt pan; set aside.  Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat till well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, folding in after each addition just until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes for the 13×9 pan, or 45 minutes for the bundt pan, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool sheet pan completely on wire rack.  If using bundt pan, cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove cake from pan and cool thoroughly on wire rack.



***Baker’s Notes:  The original recipe suggested baking in either the sheet pan or 2 8 1/2 inch cake pans, but I wanted a bundt cake.  Mine is a 10 1/2″ bundt pan which can hold between 10 and 15 cups of batter.  This recipe makes about 8 cups of batter, so my bundt pan wasn’t anywhere near full to capacity.  Therefore, the finished cake was a little thinner than if I’d used a smaller bundt pan.  My baking time was 45 minutes.  If you use a smaller bundt pan, just make sure to check the cake at about the 45 minute mark.  It may need a little more time.  When the cake begins to pull away from the edges of the pan, you’re just about there.


snickerdoodle bundt cake

We Lutherans love a good pot-luck.  Or, so I’m told.  Personally, most of what’s served in church basements can be pretty sub-par eats, at best. Obviously, the food is secondary.  The pot-lock?  Well…it’s more about the camaraderie, I’m certain; the closeness, the companionship…the reality you won’t have dishes to do after dinner!!

When I show up at the church pot-luck dinner, not only are the other diners happy for my companionship and closeness (come on, could that ever be in question?), they’re also very excited about this cake.  It’s pretty much the only time I bake it.  This time, though, I had invited a friend and her two daughters for dinner.  Her husband had traveled pretty extensively during the month of February and the “single mom” syndrome was setting in.  I figured she could use a home cooked meal  that didn’t involve her stepping foot in the kitchen.  This cake was dessert for my friend and her two daughters.  I sent them home with full bellies and a to-go bag full of leftover cake.  There were smiles all around.

I think one of my favorite things about this cake – aside from the fact the Snickerdoodle cookie is the center of many wonderful childhood memories – is the way the outside bakes into a crispy, sugary shell.  Beyond that, the inside is soft and moist, with a swirl of more cinnamon sugar.  One slice is all I’ll allow myself lest I completely lose my senses. True!  Now go forth and bake.  If you happen to swing through a good old-fashioned Lutheran pot-luck, I guarantee there will be some happy church ladies.  Enjoy!

snickerdoodle bundt cake

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c white sugar (granulated)

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.

2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c unsalted butter, at room temp
1 c white sugar
1 c light brown sugar
3 eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c sour cream, at room temp


Pre-heat oven to 325. Generously spray a 9″ bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. Be particular about coating all the indentations in the pan, as well as the center tube. Dust the entire inside of the bundt pan with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. You’ll probably only need about 1/4 cup of sugar, but you’ll want to make sure the pan is evenly coated – including the center tube. Save the remaining mixture and set everything aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Beat just the butter for 1 minute on medium speed. Add the white sugar and mix for about another 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and the blade and add the brown sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes or until the batter looks light brown and uniform in color.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating each for 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating well.

Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Add remaining batter to the pan and sprinkle evenly with the remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting cake on to a wire rack to cool completely.