Old-Fashioned Spice Cake Recipe

Spice Cake

Can a dessert be a comfort food? If so, Spice Cake is one of my favorite comfort foods.

I found a Spice Cake recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook, and just had to give it a try. It was perfect, and brought back memories of luscious Spice Cakes at long-forgotten family reunions and church pot lucks.

This easy-to-make cake has a perfect spicy blend of  cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Brown sugar is the only sugar used in this recipe, which gives this cake a lovely caramel note.

If I had one complaint about this recipe, it’s that it did not make quite enough batter to use my “go-to” 9-inch X 13-inch oblong cake pan. Instead I used a 9-inch square pan, and that worked well. Hmm. . . now that I think about it, perhaps the smaller cake  is an advantage rather than a negative.  It was just the right size for my husband and me.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-Fashioned Spice Cake

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup raisin or chopped dates (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°  F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Combine all ingredients (except for the raisins or dates) into a large mixing bowl. Blend until well blended. If desired, stir in the raisins or dates. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Frost if desired. Good with a maple-flavored frosting.

And, here’s the original hundred-year-old recipe:

Spice Cake Recipe b
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

84 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Spice Cake Recipe

  1. I can’t wait to try this! I love spice cake. I am really enjoying your blog posts! I’m so happy I found this site!

  2. I love Spice cake! It was my grandfather’s favorite cake too! Thank you for sharing your recipe! Brings back fond memories! Hugz Lisa and Bear

    1. Oh dear- it’s no fun to put all the effort into making something, and then realize too late that there’s a missing ingredient. In my opinion cakes – or at least spice cakes- are definitely easier to make than pies. 🙂

  3. Spice cake was a staple of my childhood, too, and it’s been years since I’ve had a good one. This recipe looks just right: on the list it goes! (And of course I’ll add the raisins.)

    1. Raisins would be wonderful in this cake, and would definitely add to its “comfort food” aura. 🙂 I was also intrigued by the suggestion in the old recipe to add chopped dates. I may have to try that sometime.

  4. 😋.. Spice cakes are wonderful,even when they are baking, the spicy smell lifts the spirit! My family loves a cream cheese frosting .

    1. If you make it, you’ll have to let me know what you think. I’m always interested in other people’s experiences and opinions when they try a recipe from this blog.

  5. I definitely think dessert can be comfort food! I don’t have strong memories of spice cake, although I like it very much, but apple pie, cake (not yeast) doughnuts, and German Chocolate cake all mean a lot to me!

    1. mmm. . . they all sound like comfort foods to me. You’ve now made me curious about cake vs. yeast doughnuts – and I’m going to have to start digging through my cookbooks. My mother never made doughtnuts, but I used to absolutely love the sugared doughnuts that women’s church groups in Pennsylvania sold on Fastnacht Day.

  6. I will have to try it for our next church dinner – just doubling the recipe should put it nicely in a larger pan 0r I will just make two smaller ones. Either way it will work!

      1. 😉 yummm….I never thought about cutting the recipe in half….will try it out this weekend finally only one thing to do and the rest of the weekend I will be home… woo hoo!!

    1. I have a lot of fun trying some of the old-recipes that I find. It’s nice to hear that this one brings back memories of the types of foods your grandmother made.

  7. I see you’ve posted another delicious recipe. Oh my my my I can almost taste the spices now. I love comfort foods like this. Recipes are timeless. I may have to give this recipe a try too. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Some foods like spice cake definitely stand the test of time. Let me know if you give it a try. You are so good at testing recipes and tweaking them to make them even better. 🙂

    1. I think that he’ll like it. If you make it, let me know what he thinks. I always find it really helpful to get the opinions of others about these old recipes.

  8. I adore spice cake! What recipe did you use for the maple frosting?

    I am so happy I found your blog. I came across it while researching height difference crossing eras, then comparing it to the european height trajectory lol. You wrote it in 2012 – so grateful. Thank you.

  9. I made the spice cake. The flavour is exceptionally delicious but in my concern not to undercook I actually overcooked the cake, and it’s a little dry. No worries though…..I cut slices and buttered them. Tonight I am making the Scotch onion and potato dish. It’s a favourite. I have some leftover salmon which I will add for a little variety.

    1. Thanks for letting me know that you made it and how it turned out. I love how you took a slight “lemon” and made lemonade. I tend to use icing to resolve any issues related to cakes–but I really like how you instead used butter and ate it more as a bread.

      And, it’s wonderful to hear that you like the Scotch Potatoes. They are a nice dish–and sound lovely with the salmon.

      1. I did think about toasting the buttered cake in a pan; may do so yet. (Borrowing from the trend of banana bread toast!)
        One other thing I like about the Scotch Potatoes; the recipe keeps my husband and I happy for two meals. So, yay, no cooking tonight! Oh, I may make a disorganized salad to go with the potatoes. 😀

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