Thrifty Recipe: Grandma’s Wonderful Spice Cake

Miss Thrifty5 May 20, 2013

I love cakes, but I don’t bake as often as I’d like to. This is partly because, to my annoyance, the cakes I bake magically disappear out of their tins as soon as my back is turned. (The conjurer is my husband, a man with a crazysweet tooth.) And it is partly because thrifty cake recipes are hard to come by. They use up lots of eggs, butter and sugar, none of which are cheap at the moment.

Recently, however, my hand was forced:

broken eggs

I dropped a full egg carton while putting the shopping away, and two of the eggs cracked. Grrrr! Dinner was already on the go, but I needed to use up those broken eggs before they turned. Fortunately this gave me the perfect opportunity to bake Grandma’s Wonderful Spice Cake.

I’d been hanging onto this all-American recipe. It was sent in by Miss Thrifty reader Hillary, after she read my post about making your own buttermilk. Hillary is also my friend Jessica’s mom, which is how I know that this cake is a revered family favourite.

What also drew me to this recipe was that it only uses two eggs and, somehow, less butter and sugar than the various Nigella cake recipes that I have been salivating over lately. As cake recipes go, it’s fairly simple – and, like a lot of simple recipes, is utterly moreish. I knew this one wouldn’t stay in the cake tin for long…

Grandma's Wonderful Spice Cake

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

  • 60g / 2 oz butter
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 190g / 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ tsp each cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 320g / 2½ cups regular flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ cup buttermilk (I worked this out to 340g)
  • Icing sugar
  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees centigrade / gas mark 4.
  2. Cream the butter, add sugar, eggs, then spices and soda.
  3. Add the flour, with baking powder added, alternately with the buttermilk.
  4. Bake in a shallow, oblong pan for 30-35 minutes.
  5. For icing, you can beat the egg white until it foams, then add icing sugar to make a thick paste. Spread while the cake is slightly warm.

I chickened out with the egg white icing, and added freshly squeezed lemon juice to icing sugar instead. for a topping with some bite. But I like the way that this recipe uses up all the egg: no spare gloopy egg white hanging around here.

This was the result:

spice cake recipe

Thank you Hillary!

The cake was baked and iced at around midnight, when the rest of my household was tucked up in bed, so I hung out on the sofa with a dainty dessert fork, tucking in. This cake tastes just like its name suggests it should: I want to write “warm and warming”, which looks silly on the page, but hopefully you get the idea.

Making Grandma’s Wonderful Spice Cake reminded me how much I enjoyed baking and cakes in general, so I have signed up to the local branch of an organisation called The Clandestine Cake Club. Its members meet at a secret location every month, and everyone brings a homemade cake along. Then everyone TROUGHS. That is my understanding, anyway. I haven’t been to a meeting yet, but the next one is looming and I am planning to take Grandma’s Wonderful Spice Cake along. I shall report back…


Did you enjoy this post?

Free Daily Digest

5 Responses to “Thrifty Recipe: Grandma’s Wonderful Spice Cake

Mary Peters says:

Thanks for this, it looks lovely – especially with the not-so-brilliant weather we’re having in Alsace at present. Do you think yoghurt could be used instead of the buttermilk (although I know it’s easy enough to add lemon juice to milk) as I’ve always got a stash of the homemade stuff on the go?

May 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

Yikes my mouth is literally watering at the site of this picture. I am your husband reincarnated. Love this recipe and this post. Keep up the good work. I am emailing my wife this recipe!

May 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Louisa says:

Looks yummy!

Will be looking forward to your experiences of the Clandestine Cake Club – I went to a book launch last week of their new recipe book with Lynn Hill (the founder of CCC), the publisher, the designer and the writer (can’t remember their names!).

It was a fab evening with lots and lots of cake – pictures here ( if you fancy taking a look .

Planning on trying out some recipes from the book this weekend! 🙂 x

May 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm

P says:

That looks really lovely, especially served on such a sweet little retro plate 🙂 Allspice is actually really hard to buy in Germany 🙁

May 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: