Joy the Baker’s Araby Spice Cake Is Perfect for Your Cozy Fall Afternoons

published Nov 19, 2021
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Credit: Justin Burke

I love celebrating birthdays — whether it’s mine or someone else’s — so when I saw Joy the Baker’s endearing Instagram post about her late Aunt Dede’s birthday and her plan to celebrate with one of Dede’s recipes, I was all in. I thought I was going to find a birthday cake recipe, but instead found Dede’s Araby Spice Cake. The photo of the deeply colored cake topped with fresh orange segments drew me in, and I knew I had to try this cake immediately. Here’s what happened when I joined Joy the Baker in celebrating her aunt’s birthday by making my own Dede’s Araby Spice Cake

How to Make Dede’s Araby Spice Cake

You’ll start by whisking together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until well-combined, then whisk in cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and lemon zest. Slowly whisk brown butter into the sugar mixture until evenly combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix them together with a rubber spatula until the batter is thick and combined well. Slowly add the buttermilk and mix until combined, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients together. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve with whipped cream and orange segments. 

Credit: Justin Burke

My Honest Review

This recipe is proof that a delicious, flavorful baked good does not have to be an overly complicated recipe to execute. Before baking, you can smell the warm spices in the batter (which only intensify once baked in the oven). The spice cake is tender; the flavor is bold but not overpowering. The combination of cocoa, spice, and citrus makes a lightly sweet snacking cake good for cooler months and perfect for low-key celebrations. The cake alone is delicious — especially slightly warmed.

Joy’s suggestion to serve with whipped cream and orange segments is a nice addition if serving as a dessert course — the whipped cream mellows the spice a bit and the orange elevates the lemon zest in the cake. Although I enjoyed the cake right away, it was even better the next morning, slightly warmed with butter and served with coffee. This just shows how flexible the recipe is — it’s just as at home on a dining room table for dessert as it is at tea time or a casual coffee break. I’ll be making this cake regularly as we head into the holiday months, jam-packed with celebrations. 

Credit: Justin Burke

My Top Tips for Making Dede’s Araby Spice Cake

  1. Brown the butter. I appreciate Joy’s suggestion that if a recipe calls for melted butter, you might as well brown it. Browning the butter adds more flavor to the spice cake and helps balance the spice and sweetness for a more homogenous flavor. 
  2. Serve warm. This spiced cake is even better served slightly warm. Slice and serve after it has mostly cooled, or rewarm the slices just before serving.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Joy the Baker’s Araby Spice Cake Is the Perfect Snacking Cake for Fall