SMiLes by Meg

Spice Cake

Now that it’s January, it’s time to turn away from Christmas cookies and move on to bigger and better things – like continuing my quest to be featured on Yotam Ottolenghi’s instagram feed and using all of my Christmas presents. Those two goals come together in this week’s post: Spice Cake out of Ottolenghi’s Sweet cookbook.

When I opened Sweet this week to find a recipe, I wanted something that would be baked in a loaf pan, since Sylvia, Erik’s mom, got me a beautiful yellow Emile Henry one this year (thanks!). Also because a loaf pan cake is a little easier to bring to work than a bundt pan cake, which seems to be what Ottolenghi favors. Loaf pan cakes are a little more I-had-some-free-time-this-weekend and a little less I-baked-this-extravagant-cake-without-an-occasion.

Next week, you’ll get to see some of my other presents, including silicon baking cups, which I’m pretty sure need to be filled with muffins.

To make this cake, start by creaming the butter, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, and orange zest in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light, but not too fluffy.

I realize now that I posted an orange recipe last week, too. I’m not even that big of an orange fan. But I do like using the zest and then having an excuse to eat the rest of the orange while I bake.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs by hand.

Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

Now to put it all together. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add about a third of the egg mixture and beat to combine. Then add about a third of the flour mixture. Repeat with remaining wet and dry ingredients until everything is incorporated.

Finally, in a small dish, combine the apple cider vinegar and baking soda. It will fizz up. Add it to the batter and beat until just combined.

Spread the batter into a greased loaf pan.

Look how pretty that is! I have a matching pie plate (thanks, Mom!), and I’m already trying to think of an occasion in which I can use both at the same time. Easter? What else is a yellow holiday?

Anyways, bake at 375°F for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Full disclosure: despite living in my apartment since August, I still haven’t bought toothpicks. I don’t know why I never remember them at the store. I’m adding them to my next shopping list now, though, so don’t worry too much about me.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Because I’m bringing this into work, I don’t think I’m going to ice it or anything like that. But if you did want to make it a little more presentable, you could level off the top, invert the cake, and dust with confectioners sugar. That would put it firmly back in the I-had-an-occasion-to-make-this-extravagant-cake category.


Spice Cake


  • 3/4 cup + 2 teaspoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (160 g) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (160 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 3/4 cups (220 g) flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until light and not too fluffy.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk eggs together.
  3. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin pie spice, flour, and salt.
  5. With the stand mixer running, alternate adding 1/3 of the wet ingredients and 1/3 of the dry ingredients, beating to incorporate after each addition.
  6. In a small dish, combine baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Add to batter and beat until just incorporated.
  7. Spread batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 375°F for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool 10 minutes in loaf pan before turning onto wire rack to cool completely.

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