My cousin, Michelle Thompson, is a wonderful cook. Like me, she keeps her television set stationed on one of the cooking shows—now that I think about it, we all do. The love of cooking and feeding must be a family trait, because most of us consider ourselves to be bona fide home-cook chefs. When we’re together, we gather over something homemade, and our conversations always turn to food…a new recipe, a new cooking technique, or a culinary memory that takes us back to our childhood…like a familiar stew, someone’s delicious meatloaf, or a delectable pie that we all loved. My cousins and I, especially like to sit in the kitchen with my Aunt Marjell, who is eighty-eight now, and the matriarch of our family. When she’s lost in her paring and chopping and stirring, and telling her charming, old-time stories, it’s easy to become mesmerized—to actually see and hear the people from those times and places, that framed her incredible life.
I could spend hours on the phone sharing recipes and talking about cooking methods with my cousin, Michelle. To me, there’s nothing better than having a friend who shares your passions, whether it’s power walking, stamp collecting, exchanging recipes, or cooking. My grandmother used to say, “Women sharpen women.” I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve looked at another woman and copied her hairstyle, or nail polish color, or dressing manner. When I was younger, I even tried to mimic the sauciness that I thought the other woman possessed. Even though my mother used to tell me, “You can be yourself, much better than you can be someone else,” women really do sharpen—influence—each other; even women who take our men.
This spice cake recipe comes from Michelle’s recipe files. The crumb on the cake is buttery, tender, and gently spiced. The cake is quite adaptable—it works as a delicious morning cake, and just as well, as a wonderful finish to any meal.
NOTE: The sour cream in Michelle’s cake recipe adds to the richness of the cake—it’s a cake that men love. My grandmother used to tell us that we couldn’t keep a man from running around, if he was fixed on, running around, but I am also convinced, that men love a well-kept house, and the spice and richness in this cake. And that a clean house and a succession of delicious home cooked meals, gives a wandering man something to think about.
For The Spice Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
For The Cream Cheese Glaze
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons milk, or more or less, as needed for the consistency that you desire
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, or more or less, depending on your taste for sweetness
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch fluted tube or Bundt pan. Tap out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.
To make the spice cake, in a large bowl, beat together the unsalted butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar until the ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the large eggs, one at a time, until they are incorporated into the mixture. Thoroughly mix in the vanilla extract. Do not overbeat.
In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt. Mix well. Beat the flour mixture into the unsalted butter mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Start and end with the flour mixture. Beat just until all of the ingredients in the batter are well-combined. Softly spoon the spice cake batter, scraping down the sides, into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan gently on the surface of your work station to release any air bubbles that might have formed. Smooth the top of the batter evenly with a butter knife.
Place the cake in the preheated 350 degree oven. Let it bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of it comes out clean. (Everybody’s oven is different; my cousin Michelle says she starts checking her cakes for doneness at about 65 minutes; she says, sometimes her cakes require an additional 5 minutes of baking time). When the cake is done, take it out of the oven. Let it cool in the cake pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the cake to loosen and dislodge it. Invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely, before glazing it. Meanwhile, while the cake is cooling completely, make the glaze.
To make the cream cheese glaze, in a medium-sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, unsalted melted butter, salt, and milk. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat in the pure vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until it is smooth and the drizzling consistency that you want.
Turn the cooled cake right-side-up. Carefully move the cake to a pretty serving platter. Using the tines of a fork, drizzle the glaze over the cake. If you prefer, use a tiny cake brush to brush the glaze over the cake. Before serving, let the cake stand undisturbed for about 30 minutes, or until the glaze sets.
Makes 1 10-inch sized tube or Bundt pan glazed spice cake