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Classic Spice Cake with Mocha Frosting

The original version of this hearty recipe from the Swans Down archives was featured in the 1934 cake recipe book entitled The Latest Cake Secrets, with a suggestion to “serve with tangy cider, frosted lemonade, sweet milk or coffee.”


  • 2 1/2 cups sifted Swans Down® Cake Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Mocha Frosting (recipe follows)
    Mocha Frosting
    (Makes 3 cups, enough to fill and frost 1 layer cake or frost 36 cupcakes)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup strong coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 375℉. Grease and flour two (8-inch) cake pans.
  2. Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder, salt, cinnamon, mace and cloves and sift together three times.
  3. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add molasses and blend well. Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Make Mocha Frosting: Cream butter. Sift sugar, cocoa powder and salt together. Add part of the sugar mixture gradually to the butter mixture, blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar mixture, alternately with coffee, beating after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla extract and continue mixing until it reaches a spreadable consistency.
  7. Remove cake layers from oven and transfer in the pans to a wire rack to cool. Remove from pans once cool and transfer one layer to a cake board, platter or stand.
  8. Spread Mocha Frosting on the top of the first layer, top with the second layer and then frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle nuts on the sides.