Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spice Cake with Orange Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting

I remember my Grandma making two kinds of cakes when I was growing up.  Chocolate cake and spice cake.  Both were from a box mix.  And both were topped with creamy fluffy white frosting laced with fresh orange zest.  I think it was cream cheese frosting, but I really don't know for certain.  Maybe she made other kinds of cakes too.  I'm sure she did.  But only these two stand out in my memories. 

Thinking of my Grandma's cakes makes me smile.  Her cakes mostly made appearances for birthdays.  When I was kid I was always excited to arrive at her house and see a frosted cake sitting on the counter top, but knowing the cake was not yet in my reach.  I had to patiently wait for dinner to be served and finished before the cake was adorned with birthday candles.  The hardest part was making it through the last stretch...my families rendition of the "Happy Birthday"song.  We are not singers.  Finally the candles were blown out and the round, stacked, two layer cake was cut into wedges.  Everyone received an enormous portion to savor.  Ah!  So light and moist and coated in a generous layer of orange frosting.  How could that not make you smile?

To date orange cream cheese frosting is one of my favorite frosting flavors.  I adore it paired with both chocolate and spice cake.  It's been quite some time since I've enjoyed the spice cake/orange frosting combination.  Last year I picked up a box of spice cake mix that was on sale.  I didn't have a specific plan or occasion for it, but I when I saw it I thought about my Grandma's cake and that I should have it on hand for, you know, whatever.

Whatever finally came 2 weekends ago when Hubby's Dad was in town.  It was no one's birthday, but we needed something sweet to finish off our day of football watching and appetizers.  Oranges were in the fridge along with some cream cheese.  The spice cake box was in the cupboard.  It was meant to be.  I kept it simple and just did a single layer cake in a 9 x 13 pan.  I decided to put a little twist on my normal frosting recipe and added cardamom (a fairly new spice) to bring in another layer of spice. 

The cake turned out just right.  It was light, tender and incredibly moist (don't underestimate the power of boxed cake mix my friends!).  The frosting was perfumed with sweet oranges and warm spice notes with an ever so slight crunch from the specks of ground cardamom. 

I smiled when I took my first bite.  And every last bite.   


Spice Cake with Orange Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting

Prepare a box spice cake mix according to package instructions or use your favorite homemade spice cake recipe.  Use what ever size pan you like.  The frosting is enough to coat and fill two 8 inch round cakes.  If you bake a 9 x 13 cake, you could half the frosting recipe or have leftovers for another baking project. While cake is cooling prepare the frosting.

8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter at room temperature
16 ounces (1lb) of confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons of orange zest (about 2 large oranges)

In a stand mixer combine the cream cheese and butter and beat on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add the sugar in 3 batches on low speed until combined.  Increase mixer to medium high speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla, cardamom and orange zest and beat until fully combined. 


  1. Looks and sounds like an incredible (and delicious) combination of flavors. Can't wait ti give this a try for myself.

  2. Ohhhhh!!This looks so delicious..I got something new from this blog..This makes water in my mouth..I will definitely try this ..Thanks for this wonderful sharing..Snap

  3. I have PMS and I need this NOW! Waaah! BTW- Cardamom is my new favorite spice and I am very much in love with it. Used it in a pineapple upside down cake and it added an amazing dimension to the flavor profile. And seriously- orange cream cheese frosting. You need to live closer, mama. Nice job BF- As Always. BTW- Happy almost Birthday.

  4. I am such a sucker for cream cheese frosting, and I love the addition of orange and cardamom to this one. Definitely going on my to-do list! My grandma used to make box cakes for my birthday too, such good memories :)