This Spiced Layer Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting and Sugared Cranberries is the perfect centerpiece for your holiday dessert table.
This is the cake that almost wasn’t folks.
For weeks I’ve been trying to work up my nerve and attempt a layer cake for the holidays. And since I’m terrible, no actually worse than terrible at icing cakes, I knew the cake would need to be along the lines of a rustic, naked cake. So since I’ve been in full blown baking mode this holiday season, I thought now was the perfect time to conquer my fears and challenge myself. It was time to cross the naked cake right off my baking bucket list!
Now, I really wasn’t worried about the actual taste of the cake, it was the look of the cake that made me nervous. I tend to make most of my cakes in 9×13 pans, so I can just slap the icing on the top and be done with it. Not the prettiest, but honestly always delicious. I know you need to have a plan with layer cakes, but unfortunately my brain just doesn’t work that way. I’m more of a fly by the seat of your pants kinda girl. And if things turn out then…WOHOO!
So when I heard there was such a thing as a naked cake, I thought B-I-N-G-O! That’s got my name written all over it! I will admit, I was still a bit nervous when it came to putting it all together, but I have to say it was not as hard as I thought it would be.
I decided on a spice cake because there’s something so comforting and Christmasy about warm winter spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamon and cloves along with some grated orange peel give this cake fantastic flavor and some added applesauce makes it extra moist. And since I can never get enough cinnamon, I opted for a cinnamon buttercream frosting. If you’re more of a fan of vanilla buttercream just omit the cinnamon. You decide. And last but not least, I had to add some festive sugared cranberries to really get us in the holiday spirit. Sugared cranberries are, easy, delicious and take the ordinary holiday cake to extraordinary in a matter of minutes! Enjoy!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cardamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- Cinnamon Buttercream:
- 1 cup two sticks unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream
- Sugared cranberries:
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar divided
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 6 inch round cake pans and line with parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together vegetable oil, applesauce, and orange zest. Add sugar and eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix until smooth.
With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture until just combined. Add the milk. Continue to mix until just combined. Add remainder of flour mixture. Mix until you can no longer see streaks of flour, scraping down bowl as necessary.
Divide cake batter evenly between prepared pans. Level using an offset spatula. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.Release cakes from pans and allow to cool on wire rack.
Slice each cake into two equal layers so you have four layers total.
Place one layer on cake stand. Spread about 1/2 cup frosting evenly on first layer. Place another layer on top and top with frosting and continue until you reach the top layer.
Spread remaining frosting on the side of the cake. Smooth with an icing smoother, letting some of the cake show through for a more rustic, naked look. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Remove from fridge 45 minutes before serving. Just before serving garnish the cake with some sugared cranberries around the top and bottom of cake (as pictured).
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting: In bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Add vanilla and continue to beat until blended. Add in the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Beat until well blended. Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until you've reached desired spreading consistency.
Sugared cranberries: In a small saucepan, combine water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover the pan and let stand for 10 minutes.
Strain. Place a piece of parchment on a wire rack and let the cranberries dry on the parchment for an hour.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl and toss the cranberries in the sugar to coat. Decorate the top and bottom of the cake (as pictured) with the cranberries. You will have extra cranberries. You can serve them on the side of each slice of cake.