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Spice Cake

This richly moist and fluffy spice cake is filled with a creamy brown butter Swiss meringue buttercream and covered in a beautiful tree with colorful autumn leaves.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 328kcal

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

    For The Cake:

    • 2 tbsp molasses 30mL
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon 7g
    • 1 tsp ginger 2g
    • 1 tsp allspice 1g
    • ½ tsp cardimom .50g
    • ¼ tsp cloves .25g
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg .25g
    • ½ tsp salt 1g
    • 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour 330g
    • 1 cup brown sugar 200g
    • ½ tsp baking powder 2g
    • ½ tsp baking soda 3g
    • ¾ cup unsalted butter 171g
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 15mL
    • ¼ cup sour cream 61g
    • ½ cup whole milk 118mL

    For Browned Buttercream:

    • 1 pound confectioner's sugar 455g
    • 3/4 cup room temperature Butter 170g
    • 1/3 cup cream 79mL
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 14.7g
    • 1/4 tsp salt

    For Swiss Buttercream:

    • 5 egg whites at room temperature
    • 2 cups unsalted butter 452g, at room temperature
    • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 300g
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract 5mL
    • brown food coloring
    • orange food coloring
    • red food coloring
    • yellow food coloring

    Instructions

    For The Cake:

    • Sift and whisk together the dry ingredients
    • Mix together the wet ingredients until well combined in a large bowl or stand mixer
    • Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until just combined
    • Divide the mixture evenly into three 6" pans, which have been buttered and floured. (I always use cake strips too)
    • Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes or until centers are set and the edges are pulling away from the pan.

    For the Browned Buttercream:

    • Add 3/4 cup of butter to a pot and cook over medium low heat stirring occasionally until the milk solids in the butter caramelize and darken. Be careful of splatters! Once the butter has darkened transfer to a bowl and chill until almost solid. The brown butter will be slow to cool and thicken back up so make sure to do this step in advance.
    • Cream the butter in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
    • Add in the salt and powdered sugar gradually and beat together.
    • Add vanilla and cream until desired consistency is achieved.

    For Swiss Buttercream:

    • Add egg whites, sugar and salt in a bowl.
    • Give the mixture a brief whisk.
    • Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bowl.
    • Whisk the egg whites occasionally while it warms up. When the mixture has warmed, whisk it constantly. You will heat the mixture until it reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF or until it's not grainy between your fingers.
    • Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer, mix with a whisk attachment until you get room temperature glossy peaks.
    • Switch to a paddle attachment and while the mixture is running on low, add tablespoon sized dollops of room temperature butter making sure to let the butter incorporate before you add the next piece. Once all the butter is incorporated, go ahead and add the vanilla extract. You can transfer it to a piping bag or to a ziplock bag to store in the freezer.

    For the Assembly

    • Stack your cake layers, piping the brown buttercream in-between each layer. Crumb coat your cake with the brown buttercream and smooth it out. 
    • Separate four batches of the Swiss buttercream and dye them with the food colorings.
    • For the outer layer, pipe the Swiss buttercream all around the sides and top of your cake. Smooth it out and place in refrigerator to chill before decorating. 
    • Use a toothpick or kitchen tool with a very thin tip to outline the branches on your cake.
    • Trace the outline of the branches by piping on the brown colored icing.
    • Smooth the branches out with a triangular spatula.
    • Pipe the leaves on using various leaf piping tips.

    Video

    Notes

    • That browned butter takes a time to cook and then cool down. You can use plain Swiss meringue buttercream and add some fall spices to the batch you use between the layers to save time. 
    • When using any meringue-based buttercream make sure to whip it JUST before use. Don't let it sit in the piping bag for too long. It looses consistency quickly.
    • If you’re not using 6-inch pans, double the recipe for 8-inch pans or triple the recipe for 9-inch pans.
    • You can substitute whole milk yogurt for the sour cream if desired, I do it all the time and can’t really tell the difference.
    • To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! You can buy a set online or make your own from foil and paper towels at home. I made a whole blog post on it so check it out if you’re interested!

     

    Nutrition

    Serving: 40g | Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1.5g | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 30mg | Sugar: 19g | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 0.7mg