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Delicious Spice Cake Recipe

My mother was an excellent cook who taught me a great deal as she cooked from scratch. Today, both my hubby and I enjoy cooking.

Growing up, my brother John always chose this spice cake as his birthday dessert.

Growing up, my brother John always chose this spice cake as his birthday dessert.


For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup shortening (I used Crisco)
  • 1 cup brown or white sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sour milk. (Note: If you don't happen to have sour milk on hand, you can easily make it by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a scant cup of milk. It will be ready for use in recipes within a few minutes.)

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans would also be flavorful)
Measuring out some of the ingredients for the spice cake

Measuring out some of the ingredients for the spice cake

Step 1: Make the Cake

  1. Cream the sugar and shortening together in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg and continue mixing.
  3. Add the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger spices.
  4. Put the baking soda into the sour milk and alternate adding to the mixing bowl with the flour, baking powder, and salt. Note: I sifted the flour, baking powder, and salt together, which avoids any lumps in the baking powder.
  5. When this batter is well mixed, pour into an 8-inch square baking pan which is well greased or sprayed with Pam.
  6. Smooth the batter out and, before baking, sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cake.

Step 2: Make the Streusel Topping

  1. Put all of the streusel ingredients into a small mixing bowl and cut with a pastry blender into small pieces that become crumbly and well mixed. The pieces should not be much larger than the parts of chopped nuts.
  2. With a spoon, sprinkle the topping over the cake batter that is already in the pan.

Step 3: Bake the Cake

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.

It makes nine good-sized serving pieces which can be served "as is," or it is also good with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Birthday Cake or Something Else?

When we were growing up, my mother gave my dad, my two brothers and me a choice of what we would like her to make for our birthday desserts. Naturally, when we were little, we would have had some cake with the appropriate number of candles on them. My dad preferred eating pies to cakes, and he often chose that as his preference. I remember following in his footsteps at least one year and selecting a pie for my birthday as well.

While some of our choices varied from year to year, there was no doubt which cake it would be that my brother John would choose. This spice cake recipe was his standard choice. When I found it in my mother's old recipe box recently, I decided to make it and see if it was as good as I remembered from years ago. Indeed it is delicious!

My brother John, who always chose spice cake as his preferred birthday cake

My brother John, who always chose spice cake as his preferred birthday cake

Spice Cake for My Brother John

John, or Johnny, as he was called then, was the middle child. I was the eldest, and Jim (a.k.a. Jimmy when he was younger) was the last child in our family of five.

My mother made a type of favorite cake, and I remember the frosting had crushed Heath bars in it that we all liked. I wish I could find that recipe! Some of our other preferences included upside-down pineapple cake, lemon meringue pie, apple pie with a Streusel topping for the crust, and more. John always wanted his spice cake!

One thing was certain. All of these desserts were made from scratch. I never saw a store-bought cake mix in my mother's pantry. My mother also made all of the bread that we ate. I never even tasted store-bought bread until our family moved to McAllen, Texas, and I was already 13 years of age.

Using Spices for Health

Were you aware that using spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, the ones utilized in this spice cake recipe, are good for you? Spices and herbs have effects on our bodies. They can be anti-inflammatory, have antioxidant powers, and in some cases, can even help provide weight loss when used correctly.

Using them on and in other foods rather than in cookies, cakes, and desserts will help in the weight loss category, but once in a while, a sweet treat is good for the soul. Remember the old saying, "Let them eat cake," attributed to Marie Antoinette? She may not be the real author of those words, according to Wikipedia. Still, for all time, people have craved an occasional indulgence, and for some, a piece of cake is the perfect fit.

  • Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels, which is excellent news for diabetics or borderline diabetics.
  • Ginger is a powerful antioxidant that has also been used successfully for cases of nausea and even has some reputed benefits for pain.
  • Cloves are nutrient-dense and also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Have you ever had a toothache and used clove oil purchased in your local drugstore? That is a home remedy that has been in existence for a long time. Dentists have known about the mild anesthetic benefits, which can also fight against some bacteria in the mouth. Hopefully, you will only wish to use it for its fragrant and delicious taste in what it adds to food.

Note: This information regarding spices and their uses for health is in no way intended to take the place of your health professional's advice.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Peggy Woods