A very simple cake with a long and illustrious history, spice cake is a traditional English recipe. The cake contains five primary spices; cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and allspice to flavor it. Per an article in food.tv these were likely used due to their easy availability in ancients times. Similarly, Creme Anglaise, despite its French name, is also a traditional British dessert. The desserts name literally means English Cream, and perfectly describes this pouring custard.
The cake is light and airy with a delicate flavor, perfect as a light snack with a cup of tea or coffee. The custard in this recipe transforms it into a rich dessert, worthy of any special occasion.A traditional custard cream is made with milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla and usually served warm as an accompaniment for fruit or cake. Some recipes, such as mine allow for the addition of various add ins to the custard .
As I usually like to work with seasonal fruits and vegetables I decided to use orange Juice and zest in my custard. I feel that the orange flavor is in keeping with the fall flavors of the spice cake.
Many modern recipes of the cake have the addition of fruits, vegetables, nuts, icing or glazes to make it more festive. But for my recipe I decided to stay close to the original ancient spice cake recipe and use my flavored creme anglaise to shake things up a little instead.
If you follow my blog you probably know that I love deconstructed desserts. If you're not familiar with the concept, check out my deconstructed pumpkin pie recipe to learn a bit more about these wonderful concoctions.Rather than adding fruit and chocolate to the batter, I chose to use them as a garnish. This added that extra flavor and also made for beautiful presentation. Similarly, rather than a glaze or icing, I used the creamy custard as my topping for the cake.
I always associate fall with the smell of spices, be it in a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks, or a loaf of my pumpkin bread (recipe coming soon). The aromatic smell of the spice cake as it cooks in the oven is a treat in itself. But when coupled with the fragrance of the orange juice and zest it will literally take you over the edge. The orange slices and chocolate flakes add yet another dimension to the dessert both in terms of flavor and presentation.
This cake recipe is super easy, just dump all the ingredients in, stir and bake. The Creme Anglaise on the other hand can be a little daunting the first time you ever make it. Â Some of the tips I'm about to share next will hopefully help you sail right right through!
The main mistake people make with the custard is overheating the milk or cream. This results in scrambling the eggs, leading to a curdled texture. You're aiming for a silky smooth texture so use a thermometer if you're a novice and keep your milk somewhere between 156 degrees and 180 degrees Farenhite.
The second mistake is not whisking consistently or fast enough till the desired consistency is achieved. As soon as the eggs are added to the liquid, vigorous whisking is required till the custard thickens. As soon as you see the cream thicken slightly turn your stove off as the cooking process continues for a few minutes after this, while the custard cools down.
But worry not, for IF you end up with a runny or curdled custard there are a couple of easy fixes. I'm sure you're excited to see the recipe by now so I'll get on with it!
Deconstructed Spice Cake
- Rectangular Cake Tin
- Mixing Bowls
- measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
Spice Cake Ingredients
- 2 ½ Cup All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp cloves
- 1 ¾ Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 4 Eggs
- ¾ Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
- 1 Cup Apple Sauce
- 2 tsp Vanilla Essence
Creme Anglaise Ingredients
- 3 Cup Orange Juice
- 1 tsp Orange Zest
- 3 Cup Milk Full Fat
- 1 ½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- ½ tsp Salt
- 8 Egg Yolks
- 1 ½ Cup Sugar
Spice Cake Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Grease the baking tin with nonstick spray
- Measure all the dry ingredients in a bowl
- Whisk the eggs and mix with all the remaining liquids listed above
- Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients slowly and stir till well mixed
- Pour the batter into the greased tin
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, till an inserted knife comes out clean
Creme Anglaise Instructions
- Zest approximately 2 oranges
- Combine the orange juice and zest and boil on high heat for 15-20 minutes till you have a ½ cup reduction
- Add the milk, cream, salt and vanilla bean to the reduction and heat on medium
- Whisk the eggs and sugar till well mixed
- Once the milk is beginning to simmer add it slowly to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
- Return to the heat and continue whisking till the custard starts to thicken
- As soon as the custard thickens turn the heat off and do a spoon test (explained in notes below)
- Once the spoon test is successful, pour the custard into a serving dish.
ASSEMBLING YOUR DESSERT
Now that your cake and custard are ready it's time to put this beauty together!
- Slice and cut your orange into small pieces
- Use a vegetable peeler to make dark chocolate flakes as illustrated on the Williams Sonoma site. I chose to use Cadbury's Dark Chocolate as it has a really rich and creamy texture, but you can use your favorite chocolate instead.
- Pour the warm custard in a deep dish and place a warmed piece of cake on top. Finish with a small drizzle of custard, some orange slices and dark chocolate shavings.
WHAT TO DO IF MY CUSTARD FAILS
The best of chefs occasionally have cooking fails! It's part of the process and the trick is to know when and how to salvage what you're cooking! In the case of Creme Anglaise you can end up with something too runny, too thick or even slightly curdled. Here's what to do in each one of those situations:
- If your custard is too runny and you don't want to waste the entire batch, make a slurry with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and ¼ cup of milk and whisk it into the warm custard to thicken. Since you still want to be able to pour the custard this little bit of cornflour should do the trick.
- If your custard is too thick, gradually add a little bit more milk and whisk the mixture to thin it out some.
- If you end up overheating your mixture you will likely end up cooking the eggs a bit. In this case you will end up with a slightly curdled looking custard. To fix this, simply take an immersion blender or use a regular blender to smooth out the consistency. To make the custard really silky you can then strain it using a sieve.
Happy Cooking! Do rate the recipe if you try it!