I love carrot cake, I really do. But shredding all those carrots? That’s not really my idea of a fun and relaxing baking sesh. I imagine that’s why I’d make a really lousy line cook and why my future in the restaurant business looks bleak. I mean, I’m willing to knead dough for several minutes, or dice pungent onions, but please don’t make me peel and grate carrots. I love you, carrots, I do…but I just tend to love you more once you’re in a finished cake, you know? And for this reason, I don’t make carrot cake very often. I do, however, love all those wonderful spices that you find in carrot cake, as well as the surprise raisins and nuts you’ll often find in a traditional slice. That’s why I tend to make a lot of spiced cakes when this time of the year rolls around. With this spiced walnut cake, I get all of my favorite things about carrot cake sans the effort of peeling and grating those pesky carrots.
All those delicious fall spices are in a moist and tender cake made just for the kind of girl that can’t be bothered with tedious prep work. Clearly, I can be a lazy girl at times; I hope you can relate. Best of all, this spiced walnut cake is fabulous with cream cheese frosting. In fact, I demand you serve this cake with a cream cheese frosting. After all, isn’t that why we all love fall cakes anyways? I love the slight tang that cream cheese lends to sweet buttercream frosting.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves give this cake its distinct “spiced” flavor, while the raisins and chopped walnuts provide lovely texture against the tender crumb. I usually like to decorate cakes like this with a “naked” look, merely frosting the tops of the cake layers rather than the sides. I’d rather get thick frosting in between then a light smear all over; I’m sure you agree. This spiced walnut cake smells and tastes so incredible, I promise no one will be missing the carrots!
Spiced Walnut Cake
A moist and delicately spiced cake studded with walnuts and decorated in cream cheese frosting.
- 1/2 cup raisins plus 2 tbsp more for garnishing
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped, plus 2 tbsp more for garnishing
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 1/4 cup flour sifted
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar or more/less to taste
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- splash of milk if needed to loosen up frosting
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare two 6-inch cake pans by greasing them and dusting them with flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the raisins and walnuts with the boiled water and baking soda. Give everything a stir and let this mixture rest while you prepare the batter.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix again until combined. Add lemon juice and vanilla; then mix.
Add the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt. Give everything a mix until it’s all blended in. Add the bowl full of water, raisins, and walnuts, then mix until it’s all combined.
Distribute the batter among the two pans and bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before flipping them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, create the cream cheese frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla until frosting is smooth and creamy. Add a splash of milk if you feel like you need to loosen up the frosting.
Once the cakes are completely cool, use an offset spatula to smooth the frosting over one layer of cake. Top with the second cake layer; smooth remaining frosting over the top of this layer. Center the extra raisins and chopped walnuts on top of the cake.
The baking soda (which is dissolved in the boiling water) helps soften and moisten the raisins and walnuts.