IMG_7620May is a busy time of year for my family. Not only is Mother’s day just around the corner, but both Stephen’s mom and my mom both have birthdays this month. And what is a birthday without cake?

Before I start, making a cake is my Everest in the baking world. I think I have a really high standard for how cake should taste, and I constantly seem to (at least in my mind) fail to meet that goal. However, this recipe for buttermilk spice cake turned out quite nicely. Not perfect, but it was delicious. And with Mother’s day this weekend, it makes the perfect dessert for Mom to enjoy.


Buttermilk Spice Cake with Italian Meringue Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse


  • 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 2 (9-inch) parchment paper rounds (easy guide to cutting parchment paper rounds) and line the bottom of the pans. Once placed in the pan, grease and flour the parchment rounds.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter. Then add the oil in a steady stream.
  4. Then, add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
  6. Alternating the flour mixture and the buttermilk, add it to the batter until just combined. Make sure to begin and end with the dry ingredients.
  7. With a stand mixer and a separate bowl (or electric mixer if that’s what you have), beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  8. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter in thirds.
  9. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake until the center springs back when touched, about 25-30 minutes.
  10. Remove cakes from the oven and cool on wire racks. After the cakes have cooled, invert them onto sheets of parchment paper.

Italian Meringue Cream Cheese Frosting:
Recipe adapted from Whisk-Kid


  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar, divided (You will be cooking 1 cup with water to make your syrup and whipping the eggs with a 1/4 cup)
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature


  1. Place your candy thermometer on the edge of a small sauce pan. Pour in 1 cup of sugar first and then pour the water over top to moisten. DO NOT STIR.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium. While the sugar is cooking, poor the egg whites into the bowl you plan to whip the icing in. Then wait for the syrup to come to about 230F-235F.
  3. At this point, and only at this point, should you begin to whip your egg whites using the whip attachment. Start on slow until they get frothy, then increase the speed to medium-high. Add the remaning 1/4 cup of sugar in a slow, steady stream just after the eggs begin to stiffen. Continue to whip until the meringue no longer slides in the bowl.
  4. When the sugar reaches 245F (which should happen right as you are done whipping your egg whites), or the firm ball stage, turn off the heat and turn the mixer up to high speed.
  5. Begin to pour the syrup into the bowl at a very slow and steady pace, making sure to avoid hitting the whip with the syrup.
  6. After the sugar is added, beat the icing for 10-15 minutes until the bowl is cool to touch.
  7. Once the meringue becomes light and fluffy, it is time to add the butter. Divide the butter into tablespoon pieces and add 1 at time to the icing with the mixer running on slow. Make sure that each piece is incorporated before adding the next.
  8. After all the butter is added, turn the speed up to high. It should take about 10-15 minutes for the buttercream to form. If your buttercream does not progress from the soupy stage, place your work bowl and whisk in the fridge for 7-10 minutes before whipping again.
  9. When the buttercream is thick and luxurious, pour in the vanilla extract and whip to combine.
  10. In a separate bowl, whip up the softened cream cheese. Once it is whipped, fold it into the buttercream. Be careful, this frosting can be delicate when the cream cheese is added. When the cake is iced, I recommended keeping the cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. 

4 Comments on Make Mother’s Day a Piece of Cake

  1. Linda Grainer
    May 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm (11 years ago)

    And it was so yummy!!!! A++

  2. Jill Green
    May 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm (11 years ago)

    So do I get one for Mother’s Day:(

  3. Kelly
    May 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm (11 years ago)

    That looks amazing!

    • Kristen Grainer
      May 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm (11 years ago)

      Thanks, Kelly. It was quite delicious


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