This Spiced Layer Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting and Sugared Cranberries is the perfect centerpiece for your holiday dessert table. The flavors are warm and cozy and oh so Christmasy!
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.
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.
Spiced Layer Cake Ingredients
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- ground cinnamon
- ground cloves
- fine sea salt
- vegetable oil
- orange zest
- granulated sugar
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
- unsalted butter
- vanilla extract
- confectioners’ sugar
- ground cinnamon
- heavy cream
Sugared Cranberries Ingredients
- granulated sugar
- fresh cranberries
I decided on a spice cake because there’s something so comforting and Christmasy about warm winter spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom 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!
This would be a showstopper for your holiday dessert table this year guys! Hope you give it a go!
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year too! XO MaryAnn
Please let me know if you give the recipe a try. And if you have any questions about the recipe, just drop a comment below. Enjoy!
A Few Cook’s Notes for Spiced Layer Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting and Sugared Cranberries
I love the cinnamon buttercream frosting for this cake, but you could also omit the cinnamon and just go with vanilla buttercream.
The sugared cranberries give this cake the WOW factor, so I definitely would not omit. They are sugar easy to make too!
More Delicious Holiday Dessert Recipes to Enjoy
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 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
- 1 cup two sticks unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 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.
- 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.
Updated: This post was first published here at the BHK in December 2016. I decided it was worthy of a re-share so you could make this showstopper of a layer cake for your holiday dessert table too. It’s one of my favorite recipes, so I hope you give it a go! I’ve updated some of the content and added some notes to the post above.