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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Golden Brown Sugar Spice Cake

I love spice cakes. Whether it's a traditional gingerbread or something with more exotic blends, I just can't get enough. Although it's Spring and temperatures here in the desert are fluctuating between the upper 80's and the 50's with no seeming rhyme or reason, I decided to bake a spice cake which seems more associated with Autumn to me.

This particular cake is a variation on a Sorghum Spice Cake. Obviously, finding sorghum syrup outside the south is pretty difficult so I had to adapt. If you're wondering what sorghum is, it's a type of syrup. It's made from a plant that was primarily grown for cattle feed originally. Of course, someone back in the 19th century figured out you could squeeze it like sugar cane and produce a very sweet syrup with a milder flavor than molasses. At one time it was quite popular all over the country. Now, it's limited pretty much to the south.

Since sorghum syrup was in short supply I decided to try something the Brits use pretty much the same way - Lyles Golden Syrup . It's made from sugar cane like molasses but is lighter in color and flavor. Over there it's used in baking and also on breakfast dishes much like we use maple syrup (or sorghum in parts of the south).

I'm pleased to report that the results were great. The golden syrup allows the flavors of the spices to really come through in the finished product. It's hard to describe the flavor of this cake. You'll find it has similarities to gingerbread in some respects, but the flavors are much deeper and more complex. The addition of the tart lemon glaze creates a wonderful taste treat against the warmth of the spices. The brown sugar lends just enough molasses flavor and color to make this cake a delight both to the tongue and eyes.

Recipe: Golden Brown Sugar Spice Cake

Description: Golden syrup and brown sugar let the spices in this cake put on a real show!


  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. Garam Masala (or ground Cardamom)
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
Lemon Glaze:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment add brown sugar and stir briefly to break up lumps. Add oil, golden syrup, eggs, and buttermilk and stir on slow speed to combine.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt and spices and mix on low speed just until combined. Scrape down the bowl and finish stirring by hand.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 50-55 minutes (NOTE: if using a dark pan your cooking time might be as short as 45 minutes.) Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake for 10 minutes on wire rack then remove from pan. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour over cooled cake.


If you have access to Sorghum Syrup you can substitute it directly for the golden syrup.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 55 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 14
Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

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