Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream

How was everyone’s weekend? It seems like the weekend just flies by for me. I had big plans for the weekend to decorate the house for Christmas, do some baking, finish the last of my shopping, and write out my Christmas cards. I managed to finish off my shopping, which feels great because when the malls start getting too busy I really can’t handle it. I really don’t liked to get stressed about it because it really takes the fun out of it for me, so I’m glad I was able to get that done so early this year. I also wrote all my Christmas cards, as for the rest; it didn’t get done. But, tomorrow is another day :)

I’ve been dying to share this cake with you for what seems like months! But I held off until now because to me, this cake just screams winter, and Christmas. I mean, when else are you going to eat a gingerbread cake that’s infused with all of those warm, winter spices, and topped with a fluffy old fashioned eggnog buttercream? This is seriously the time for it.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this cake. It was such a welcomed change from a basic chocolate or vanilla cake. What I love most is about this cake is the little finishing touches of the Pearlized sprinkles, and Pearl white nonpareils. Although the photo doesn’t really pick it up, I also infused the buttercream with some edible pearl luster dust which gave it a little sparkle and a beautiful sheen. I love the way it looked when it was finished and oddly reminded me of a vintage wedding dress.

The cake itself is a perfectly moist (there’s that word again), not too light, but not too dense cake with a nice crumb. The cake is infused with lots of rich winter spices and molasses to basically make it like a gingerbread cake. It was so good, I could have eaten it alone with no icing! And the nice thing is that the layers baked up perfectly level, so there was no trimming involved to make them even. Always a bonus in my book!

The frosting is what I consider to be an old fashioned frosting. It’s a base of sugar, milk, and flour that is boiled to make something similar to a pudding. It is then whipped along with some butter to create a light and fluffy frosting. What I love about this frosting is that it’s just the perfect sweetness, and just a little different than your usual frosting. I’ve made this type of frosting before, but prefer this method as it gives the best end result. If you’ve never made this type of frosting that uses flour, I urge you to give it a try!

I loved this cake a lot, and I hope you do too! This would be a beautiful cake to add to your festive holiday gatherings!

Stay tune, I have plenty of wonderful recipes to share with you in the coming weeks. My list is huge, so hopefully I can squeeze it all in! :) What are you baking this holiday season? Anything that you would like to see here? Let me know :)

Hope you have a great monday, and a great start to your week!


Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: One 8-inch 3 layer round cake

Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream

A rich and moist gingerbread spice cake filled and frosted with an old fashioned eggnog buttercream frosting.


    For the Spice Cake
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, plus 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • For the Eggnog Buttercream
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


    For the Spice Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with butter, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and molasses. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and shortening on medium high speed until creamy and well combined, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add in the vanilla, and the whole egg, beating until just combined.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the water, then 1/2 of the remaining flour, then the water, and ending with the remaining flour. Scrape down the bowl, and turn the mixer to medium for a few seconds to ensure all the components are well combined. Be sure not to over mix. Add in the cinnamon molasses mixture, and mix on low speed to combine.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 egg whites and cream of tarter until soft peaks form. You can simply do this by hand with a whisk. It takes a little bit of elbow grease, but it only takes about 3 to 5 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter by hand.
  7. Divide the batter among the three pans, and smooth the tops. The batter may look a little bit separated. I like to weigh my batter into the pans to ensure even cake layers. Bake the layers for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and allow them to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Then turn them out and remove the parchment to cool completely.
  8. For the Eggnog Buttercream
  9. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and flour. Slowly whisk in the milk and heavy cream. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the mixture has come to a boil and has thickened. I find it helpful to switch to a heatproof spatula halfway through to be able to reach the edges of the pot. Remove the pan from the heat, and strain the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  10. Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture on high speed until it is cool, about 10 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, and add all the butter. Increase the speed to medium high, and beat until all the butter is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. It may not look right at first, but keep beating it, it will come together.
  11. Add in the rum, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and mix until throughly combined. Add in about 1 heaping teaspoon of lustre dust if using and combine. If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate it for about 15 minutes, then beat again until light and fluffy.
  12. Assembly
  13. Place 1 cake layer on a plate, then top with about 1 1/2 cups of frosting and smooth it to create an even layer. Repeat for 2nd and 3rd layer. Apply a thin layer of frosting to the outside of the cake to create a crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake to allow the crumb coat to set for about 10 minutes. Remove from the fridge and apply another layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake.
  14. To create the look in the photos. Try to smooth the top and sides as best you can. I like to use a small offset spatula to fill and frost the cake. Then, use a bench scraper to smooth the sides, then the small offset spatula to smooth the top. This doesn't have to be perfect.
  15. Using a large angled spatula, starting at the bottom, apply slight even pressure to spatula against the cake, and turn the cake to create a slight indentation. Do this all the way up to the top of the cake. For the top, start at the outside of the cake, and work your way in without stopping the motion to create a swirl pattern. I find using a turntable is the best way to do this.
  16. Sprinkle the top of the cake with some sprinkles or nonpareils of your choice, or leave it plain.


This cake will keep at room temperature covered for up to 3 days. I like to cover all my cakes with a cake dome. Otherwise, cover tightly and keep refrigerate for up to 2 days, allowing the cake to come to room temperature before serving.

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Jessica’s Notes:

  • When I make layer cakes, in order to spread out the work, I typically always make the layers a few days ahead of time. I cool them completely, the wrap in 2 to 3 layers of plastic wrap, and freeze until the day I plan to assemble the cake. Cake that has been frozen is actually much tastier than cake that is freshly made. Believe me. I just remove the layers from the freezer while making the buttercream. I like to work with my layers slightly cold as I find them much easier to work with. Also, making layers ahead of time makes less work on the day of assembly.
  • To get even layers of frosting between the layers, I like to use an ice cream scoop to measure out the frosting.
  • The tools I use most often and used to decorate this cake are a Rotating Cake Stand, large Angled Spatula , Ateco small Offset Spatula, and a Bench Scraper .
xoxo Jessica
Adapted from Baked Elements.
Disclosure: This post contains amazon affiliate links. 


  • Donna Thede

    I tried several ways to pin this but it just wouldn’t happen. Would love to have done that, but will just have to print it. I love cakes and this one is next on my baking list. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Donna, I’m so sorry you are having problems pinning it. I did try and it worked- I would perhaps try a different browser? I hope you enjoy the cake and thank you for taking the time to leave feedback :)

  • Jennifer

    Just made this cake for my husband’s birthday. He loves spice cake. It was light and flavorful. Everyone loved it. The icing was also light and creamy. Didn’t have allspice so substituted with apple pie spice. Also made two 9″ square cakes instead of round but turned out perfect. Thanks for the recipe. Will be making this again

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Jennifer, so happy to hear you enjoyed the cake! Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback. Happy birthday to your husband :)

  • Louise

    Hi This is beautiful. Did you use granulated sugar or icing sugar (confectioners) for the buttercream?

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Louise,

      The recipe uses granulated sugar. Thank you so much!

  • Lisa Frank

    Hi Jessica,

    I wanted to let you know that I featured this amazing cake in my Christmas Baking recipe round-up today on my blog, Handcrafted Parties. I know my readers will love it! Here’s the link:

    Happy holidays!
    Lisa Frank :)

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thank you for sharing, Lisa!!

  • Margie Vazquez

    Have you ever used cream cheese in this icing?

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Margie, I have never used cream cheese in the icing above, I don’t think that it would yield the best results. However, you most certainly could make a basic cream cheese icing, and add the rum, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon to it. You may need to up the quantities a little as cream cheese icing has a stronger flavour than a basic vanilla buttercream. I would start with the amounts above then taste, and increase as needed.

      Here is a link to my favourite cream cheese icing:

      Hope that helps!

  • Food Foto Gallery

    Hope you don’t mind – I love this gorgeous holiday cake so I added it to my food photo site (Food Foto Gallery) for all to see. Attribution was given to you and I hope that you gain a few new visitors, as well.

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Not a problem, thank you for sharing! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Jenelle

    I had made this cake around Christmas time and the flavors were just amazing. I plan on making this cake again for Easter. My cake turned out a tad dry and crumbly, so it was a bit difficult to prepare. Do you have any suggestions to fix this? Perhaps a little more water or butter? Thank you!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Jenelle,

      I’m not sure why it would come out dry, I found the cake to be very moist. Did you make any substitutions or reduce anything? Also, was the cake over baked? Let me know and we can work through it :)

      • Jenelle

        It was odd, it tasted amazing! It was just when I went to take it out of the pans it was very crumbly and hard to put together. I didn’t substitute anything. It is a possibility that I did over bake it, my oven tends to take less time then what the recipe usually calls for. Could not creaming the butter and shortening enough before adding the sugars be an issue maybe?

        Regardless, the flavours of the cake were amazing and once I managed to piece it together it looked good too! So I will be making this again tomorrow either way. Thank you for the recipe and your help!

  • S. I saac

    I am curious how you did the luster dust in the frosting. I am just an amateur cake decorator, but I made my sister’s wedding cake, and tried mixing the dust in with the frosting, and it didn’t show up! Do you have to use a ton of it? I ended up chilling the frosted cake and brushing the dust on with a soft huge artist brush. It wasn’t very even but it still looked great. But yeah, I guess I just want to know how to work with it a little better, and couldn’t come up with anything really on the internet, maybe I wasn’t searching in the right places. thank you!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      I mixed the luster dust right into the frosting after it was done. I used about 3 heaping teaspoons of it, but it could have used more. I also decorate cakes on the side, and the simplest way is generally to airbrush it on. On Fondant cakes I usually mix with a very small amount of vodka and brush it on. Hope that helps! :)

  • Magic of Spice

    What a lovely and scrumptious cake!

  • Dinnersdishesdessert

    This cake is just gorgeous!! The flavor sounds heavenly. I love the idea of eggnog buttercream!

  • grandbabycakes

    This cake looks unreal for real! Wowza!!!

  • Carol | a cup of mascarpone

    OMGoodness – this cake is stunningly gorgeous!!!

  • Averie Cooks

    Stunning cake, Jessica! The cake itself & flavors and layers – and then….the eggnog buttercream! yes!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thanks so much, Averie!

  • Mathilda Murray

    Wow, I love the all white top! ! ! I will try to make this for Christmas but I shall better practise a bit…. I hope you like this app maybe with a few recipes and well photographed dishes, to get a bit inspired from European trasitional Christmas food!

  • Erin@theLawStudentsWife

    Oh my goodness, what a beautiful cake! This is truly the right time for these fabulous Christmas flavors. I love ginger cake, but have never paired one with eggnog flavors. What a festive (and delicious) idea!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thanks, Erin!!

  • Denise | Chez Us

    Gorgeous and the flavors are perfect! I am dying to bake some cakes such as this after talking with Bree at Bree Bakes last week. I made a gingerbread snack cake with a bourbon hard sauce over the weekend – delicious, but I need to get it out of the house before I eat the entire thing!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thanks, Denise! I know what you mean, I always need to get rid of dessert right away or I eat it too! :)

  • CrunchyCreamySw

    Beautiful! Love the holiday flavors in this cake.

  • Heather

    Stunning! I love the white on white, it’s just so perfect. And yes, totally screams winter cake.

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thanks, Heather!

  • Erin @ Texanerin Baking

    This cake is so perfect! You have awesome layering and icing skills. I’ve never tried eggnog buttercream but it sounds great. :) And I’m baking everything possible. I made four types of cookies on the weekend and some cranberry bars and some lemon gingerbread and apple sauce and on and on and on. I’m having fun this holiday season!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thanks, Erin! Sounds like you’ve been busy :) Sounds yummy!

  • Explody Full

    It looks totally like a restaurant cake! I have never heard of the flour milk and sugar icing you talked about!

  • Kathryn

    Such a gorgeous cake – I love those little touches of Christmas sparkle!

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Thanks, Kathryn!

  • Tutti Dolci

    What a picture-perfect cake, I love your finishing touches! I’ve never buttercream using that method, but I’ll have to try it.

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    Weekends just go by in the blink of an eye! I don’t even know what I did but it’s already 10PM on Sunday and now I have to get ready for work tomorrow. Ugh.

    Anyway, this cake is absolutely stunning! That buttercream is incredible and so Christmas-y – I want to slather that on my muffins and toast! And have like 4 slices of cake too.