Sugar and spice and all things nice …

I made this sugary spicy cake for my dad to have as a treat.  He calls it breakfast.  Yeah, that’s my dad.  Cake for breakfast every day.  Because he can.

But, I’m not dedicating this cake to my lovely and wonderful papà.  No.

I am dedicating this sweet and spicy delight of a cake to a gorgeous friend of mine, Karen, or as she is sometimes known (via one of her nomes-de-plume), Kaz-Spice.  Because she is all sugar and spice … a true girly girl and international glamourpuss.  Which is partly why I love her.  The Spice Girls would have been infinitely more interesting, talented, and totally bad-ass, had they a Kaz-Spice leading the way.

So this cake is for you, Kaz-Spice.  There are no crazy decorations, layers, fillings, or frosting.  There is no need to gild a perfect lily.  The same applies to you.  Perfect as you are.   Thank you for being such a strong, inspirational woman and friend, with an amazing sense of fun and humour.  Even though life means we can’t see each other in person as often as I’d wish.

With love, from Vivi-Spice xxx

I haven’t made this cake in years.  But having recently rediscovered my love of spices, and winter surrounding us now, I found myself nostalgic for the simple coffee cakes I used to bake years ago.   The spice blend I used is quite simple but together the flavours are complex and wonderful.  The sugary sweetness plays off the spices beautifully.  The topping adds a little crunch and extra bite.  The aroma that fills your kitchen, and home, is nothing short of aromasational.  Yes, I love to make up superlatives.  It’s a thing 🙂

You can use your own favourite blend of spices for this cake.  It really doesn’t matter.  My favourite spices for sweets have always been cinnamon, which I seriously think is the Spice King, and ginger.  I also rather like cardamom and nutmeg but find I need to use them sparingly or they overpower everything else.  I used cardamom here to add a little exotic nuance to the spice blend and let the cinnamon and ginger form the core of it.

The cake is moist and buttery, rich but quite light, and heady with spices.  Great with a cup of tea or coffee, but also makes a lovely simple dessert with some clotted cream or ice cream.

I hope you enjoy it.  It’s rather special.  Just like Kaz-Spice 🙂

Sugar and Spice Cake

Makes 1 x 22cm cake

250 grams butter, softened
70  grams dark brown sugar
150 grams white sugar
210 grams eggs (4 large)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (cassia bark)
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
30 millilitres orange blossom water
240 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Spicy Sugar Topping
3 teaspoons sugar (white or brown)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Line the base and sides of a 22 centimetre round cake pan with non-stick baking paper.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, place the softened butter, sugars, and vanilla bean paste and beat until light and fluffy and the sugars have completely dissolved.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Add the spices and orange blossom water and beat until smooth.  Sift together the flour, and baking powder, and add to the batter.  Beat well until smooth and light.

Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Combine the sugar and spices for the topping in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cake, making sure to cover the surface evenly.

Bake for about 60 minutes, or until risen, and cooked through.  A skewer inserted in the centre will come out clean when it is ready.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cake tin on to a serving dish.

This cake will keep for up to a week, stored in an airtight container, at room temperature.

Serve on its own or with a dollop of clotted cream or ice cream.

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