Spice Cake with Candied Bacon and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Becky's birthday was a few weeks ago, and I decided to make her something special. 

To be honest, with the exception of yeast-leavened things like bread, I'm really not much of a baker, but I like to think that I'm pretty competent at it, and I knew that I could make something interesting - and maybe even edible.

I also know that making things pretty isn't one of my strong suits, so I didn't really try. At least, that's how I'm going to excuse the fact that I forgot to grease the pans, and had to rip the cake to shreds to get it out. And the pans claimed to be "non-stick."  But don't despair - frosting conceals a multitude of sins. 

Ultimately, however, this cake tasted pretty damn good, which is all that really matters in the end.

Candied Bacon

  • 10-15 strips of thinly-sliced bacon
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a bowl, and set aside.

Place a wire cooling rack in a baking sheet, and brush the rack with vegetable oil.

Lay out the bacon on the wire rack, and cover it generously with the sugar/pepper mixture.

Cook in the oven until the bacon is crisp, and the sugar is melted and bubbly. 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool before handling. Once cooled, chop it into small pieces, and measure out approximately 1 cup of the chopped bacon. If there's extra, reserve it for another use. It's really good just by itself. And I'm sure it would be great in waffles. But that's another post. Someday. Maybe.

Spice Cake

Recipe from Paula Deen

  • 3 cups cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 sticks butter (thanks for showing some restraint for once, Paula), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup of chopped candied bacon

*I don't believe in buying specialized flour, unless absolutely necessary. You can make a perfectly serviceable cake flour substitute with all purpose flour and cornstarch. Simply place two tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1-cup measuring cup, and fill the rest of it with all purpose flour. You now have 1 cup of cake flour. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (DO NOT forget this step! See above.) 2 8-inch cake pans. The original recipe called for 3 cake pans, but the amount of batter it made barely filled two. Your mileage may vary, I guess.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger).

With an electric hand mixer, or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each egg is completely combined with the mixture before adding the next. 

Mix in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. Do this in small doses, and alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Fold the candied bacon bits into the batter.

Pour the batter in two (or three, as the case may be) greased and floured cake pans. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 standard-sized package) at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the maple syrup, salt, and vanilla. Gradually incorporate the sugar. Continue mixing until everything is combined, and the frosting is smooth.

When you take the cakes out of the oven, let them sit out for 5-10 minutes, then remove them from the pans, and let them rest on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

If the cakes have risen into a dome shape, cut a thin layer off the top of them to create a flat surface. Put one layer of cake on the dish on which you intend to serve it. Cover the top with frosting, add the next layer, and so on.

You know how to assemble a cake, right? Good.