Mulling-Spice Cake With Cream-Cheese Frosting

Mulling-Spice Cake With Cream-Cheese Frosting

The spices in this cake from “Live Life Deliciously” by Tara Bench (Shadow Mountain, 2020) are, indeed, those you’d use if you were mulling cider or wine. They’re the flavors of fall and winter, and especially of the holidays; that their aromas linger in the kitchen is a bonus. They’re warm and hearty enough to hold their own when blended with the cake’s apple cider and molasses (use an unsulfured brand, such as Grandma’s). The batter is very thin, but it bakes up sturdy, easy to cut and ready to be generously filled and covered with cream cheese frosting. The cake is lovely on its own, but it welcomes extras. Ms. Bench decorates hers with almond and candy Christmas trees, but a little crystallized ginger or chocolate is nice too.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 10 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the cakes: Coat two 9-inch round pans with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment.
  2. Step 2

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices and salt; set aside.
  3. Step 3

    Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using an electric mixer), beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium until smooth. Add eggs and orange zest, and beat on medium-high speed, about 1 minute.
  4. Step 4

    In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, add the molasses and baking soda. In a small saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil over high; pour it over the molasses and baking soda and whisk until combined. (The mixture will froth.)
  5. Step 5

    Beat in a third of the flour to the butter mixture on low until combined, then half the cider mixture. When it’s blended, add half the remaining flour, all the remaining cider, then the rest of the flour, beating to blend after each addition. Batter will be runny.
  6. Step 6

    Divide the batter between the pans, swiveling the pans to level the batter, which will be scant. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, rotating halfway through. Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes, then unmold and transfer the cakes to wire racks to cool fully.
  7. Step 7

    Prepare the frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt, and mix briefly. On low speed, add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. After all the sugar is incorporated, scrape the bowl, then beat the frosting on medium-high for 15 seconds.
  8. Step 8

    Place one layer of cake on a serving platter. Top with 1 cup frosting, and spread it to the edge of the cake. Place the second cake layer on top, and frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Top with a smattering of crystallized ginger bits, chocolate pearls or sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to 3 days) before serving.