Spice Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Icing
Need a good snacking cake for the holidays? This spice bundt cake with brown butter icing has brown sugar and warm spices for a moist, decadent, and cozy dessert! Serve this cake with hot coffee for autumn dinner parties, winter holidays, or get-togethers with friends. You’re going to love it!
Spice cake always reminds me of my Grandma Marilyn. It was my favorite dessert that she made for family dinners when I was little. 🥰 A true family gem. And even though this version is a bit different from my grandma’s renowned spice cake topped with penuche icing, it’s just as cozy, warm, and nostalgic!
The cake itself is based on my go-to pound cake that I learned how to make in pastry school, but it has a ton of cozy spices! Then, it’s topped with nutty brown butter icing, because you know how much I love a brown butter situation. Brown butter pecan chocolate chip cookies and caramel Dutch apple pie with brown butter streusel just so happen to be some of my all-time favorite desserts after all.
But anyways, I digress. Let’s make cake!
Perhaps my favorite part of this bundt cake is its snack-ability. Of course, it makes a lovely dessert but it’s also one of my go-tos for serving with hot coffee while I sit around and chat with my friends. It’s a staple around here for the holidays, movie nights, or just hanging out with my family.
- This cake is super simple to make but has lots of flavor.
- The combination of warm spices + brown butter is ridiculously good.
- It’s the ultimate cake for fall or winter get-togethers.
- The pound cake is buttery and perfectly dense.
For the cake
- Flour – all-purpose flour will give the batter stability and texture.
- Salt – just a pinch of Kosher salt will offset the sweetness of the cake.
- Baking soda – not all pound cake recipes have baking soda, but I like adding a bit for a little extra fluffiness.
- Spices – baking with spices can be a delicate balance to get a nice flavor without overwhelming the cake. In this recipe, we’ll use a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves for just the right amount of spice!
- Unsalted butter – the butter adds richness, flavor, and moisture to the cake which will give it that gorgeous crumb.
- Sugar – the sugar adds sweetness and helps create an airy texture when it’s creamed with the butter.
- Brown sugar – in addition to the white sugar, I also like to add brown sugar to complement the spices!
- Vanilla extract – for a bit of extra flavor, we’ll add 100% pure vanilla extract.
- Eggs – the eggs help bind the batter together and give the cake structure. Pound cake uses quite a few eggs (6 to be exact) to give it that dense texture.
- Sour cream – a bit of sour cream adds moisture and gives the cake a slight tang.
For the icing
- Unsalted butter – browning the butter will give the glaze a toasty, nutty taste.
- Powdered sugar – to form the base of the glaze. For smooth glaze, sift it to remove any lumps!
- Whole milk – a splash of milk helps thin out the glaze so it’s not too thick.
- Vanilla extract – a hint of vanilla tastes amazing with the brown butter.
- Salt – to keep the glaze from being too sweet, we’ll add a pinch of Kosher salt.
- Spices – feel free to replace the spices with a mix like homemade apple pie spice, pumpkin spice, or chai spice!
- Sour cream – you can also use whole milk Greek yogurt if you prefer.
- Gluten-free – to make this cake GF, use a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour substitute like Cup4Cup!
- Icing – use chai glaze or orange icing instead of brown butter. Or pipe coffee buttercream on top!
- Milk – half-and-half or heavy whipping cream will also work in the icing.
How to make this cake
Bake the bundt cake
- Start by sifting the all-purpose flour to remove any lumps.
- Then, add the salt, baking soda, and spices.
- Whisk the flour mixture together and set aside for later.
- Add the butter, sugar, and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugars together until they’re mixed.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract.
- Then, add the flour mixture and sour cream in two batches. Pour the batter into a bundt pan.
- Lastly, bake the cake at 350°F, checking for doneness after 1 hour. Cool the cake completely.
Bundt cakes are notorious for sticking to the pan and breaking apart. But don’t stress! Here’s a little trick I learned in pastry school – use baking spray! Unlike other cooking sprays, this one has oil and flour which work together to keep the cake from sticking to the sides of the pan.
Make the glaze & assemble
- Start by melting the butter in a large skillet. Let it cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is brown and smells nutty. Cool.
- In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, brown butter, milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until smooth.
- Then, pour the glaze over the cooled cake. Decorate and enjoy!
This cake is gorgeous on its own, but feel free to add some cute decorations for a holiday party or Christmas dinner! Here are a few of my favorite easy decoration ideas:
- Top the cake with pomegranate arils or sugared cranberries.
- Finish the icing with holiday-themed sprinkles.
- Decorate the sides of the cake with gingerbread cookies.
- Pipe icing holly or Christmas trees on the glaze after it has dried.
- Sprinkle toasted pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts over the cake.
If you’re decorating the cake with fresh fruit like pomegranates or cranberries, add them right before serving! Otherwise, the fruit will leak juices over the cake and stain the icing.
Spice cake is one of my favorites for dinner parties, potlucks, Christmas, or autumn holidays. But I also like making it for casual get-togethers like game nights since it’s perfect for snacking and sharing!
- Enjoy this cake with hot coffee or tea – my favorite!
- Serve the cake with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.
- Drizzle the cake with homemade caramel sauce.
- Add a sprinkle of toasted nuts – walnuts, pecans, etc.
- For a simpler cake, skip the icing and dust it with powdered sugar.
Storing, make-ahead, & freezing
To store the cake, place it in an airtight container or cover it with a cake dome. Let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 days – it stays fresh for quite a while!
This cake is also a great make-ahead dessert. Just bake it the night before you want to serve the cake. You can either decorate it the night before or right before serving.
To freeze the cake, wrap individual slices (or the whole cake) in a layer of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Then, store the cake slices in a freezer bag or airtight container. You can also wrap it in tin foil! Freeze the cake for up to 2 months.
- Kitchen scale or measuring cups
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Large whisk
- Rubber spatula
- Bundt cake pan
- Large skillet
I always recommend weighing the ingredients with a scale instead of cups for the most accurate results! But, if you don’t have a scale, make sure you’re measuring the flour as accurately as possible. Fluff the flour with a whisk and spoon the fluffed flour into a measuring cup. Level it off without packing the flour into the cup.
Tips & tricks
- Always use room temperature ingredients! (Butter, eggs, sour cream, etc.) This helps the batter mix more consistently.
- For a flat bottom, start by smoothing out the batter. Then, use a rubber spatula to create a divot in the center of the batter.
- Cool the cake a bit before flipping it. 10-15 minutes should do. If the cake is too warm, it could fall apart, but just enough heat will help it release from the pan!
- If the cake isn’t releasing, give the top of the bundt pan a good tap with your hands. If it’s still not coming out, just leave the pan inverted for 10-15 minutes and it should pop out.
- Cake still has a few mistakes? Don’t stress. Just cover up any small patches with icing! If the entire cake broke apart, use it to make cake pops or trifles.
What is the difference between spice cake and carrot cake?
Carrot cake and spice cake look pretty similar but they’re totally different cakes! Carrot cake has shredded carrots, walnuts, and sometimes raisins. It’s also usually topped with cream cheese frosting. Spice cake, on the other hand, is a basic cake with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc. and it usually doesn’t have add-ins.
Can I make this cake gluten-free?
Yes! Just replace the all-purpose flour with a one-to-one gluten-free flour replacement. I’ve had great luck with Cup4Cup but use your favorite!
How do I get the bundt cake out of the pan?
Bundt cakes are (kind of hilariously) known for not wanting to release from the pan. But, if you grease the pan properly, it’ll be totally fine! Here’s how I do it:
- Grease the pan well with baking spray or neutral oil + a light dusting of flour.
- Once the cake is baked, let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.
- Then, invert the pan on a wire rack. Give the pan a few good hits with the palm of your hand.
- Lastly, grip the sides of the pan and carefully start to remove it from the cake.
- If the cake won’t release, give it a few more bangs or let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Gravity will do its work!
When should I glaze the cake?
You will want to glaze this spice pound cake after it has cooled completely. If the cake is warm, it will soak up the glaze and make the cake soggy!
More brown butter desserts
Brown Butter Banana Coffee Cake
Brown Butter Peanut M&M Cookies
Strawberry Crumble Pie with Brown Butter Streusel
Pretzel Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Frosting
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Spice Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Icing
Spice Bundt Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (360 grams)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (228 grams)
- 2 cups sugar (400 grams)
- 1 cup brown sugar (200 grams)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 1 c sour cream (215 grams)
Brown Butter Glaze
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (57 grams)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (240 grams)
- 1/4 cup whole milk, plus more as needed (60 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of Kosher salt
Spice Bundt Cake
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it's combined, about 3-4 minutes. (The mixture may be a little sandy). Add the vanilla extract. Then, mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes. Then, release the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Brown Butter Glaze
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter starts to foam up and bubble. Keep cooking it over low heat, stirring often, until the butter smells caramelized and has brown bits on the bottom. Pour the brown butter into a mixing bowl and let it cool completely.
- Once the butter is cooled, add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk the glaze until it's smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk 1 Tablespoon at a time. If it's too thin, add powdered sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time. It should be the consistency of honey.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled cake. Decorate as desired. Let the glaze set at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- Increase baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Decrease oven temperature to 325°F.
- Start checking for doneness around 1 hour. Your cake may take up to 1 hour and 25 minutes to bake completely.
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the day – Christmas Time is Here by Vince Guaraldi Trio