First I brought you my Spiced Carrot Sheet Cake and now I'm bringing you this Spiced Walnut Cake! It has the best flavors and textures! I wanted to recreate my Cowboy Cookie Cake into a soft spongey cake, but ended up with this instead (and I'm not mad about it!). It has the same delicious ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger spices with crunchy chopped walnuts. However, I left out the coconut and oats as I didn't find them to fit as well in this recipe. This cake is easy to decorate as a semi-naked layer cake with its brown butter cream cheese frosting! It's perfect to share with family and friends at parties as everything starts to open back up this summer!
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Decorating this Cake
I try to avoid layer cakes because they can be time-consuming and tricky to frost. This is honestly the main reason my carrot cake is a sheet cake, it's just so much easier than layer cakes! However, I thought it was finally time I faced my fears…but with baby steps, right? Decorating this cake as semi-naked with walnuts takes the pressure off a bit so you don't have to worry about making it super smooth and even. Just chill the three cake layers then spread the frosting around with a scraper or offset spatula and cover up any flaws with walnuts! (A cake turntable does help as well!)
Even though you have to take the time to frost this cake, it's a bit better than having to peel and shred a bunch of carrots for carrot cake! It also has all the tasty spices and moist texture, so it's a good trade off!
This cake batter is really simple to whip up before it gets divided and baked into three 6-inch cake pans. No sifting or special cake flour is needed, just your basic staple baking ingredients! Vanilla is used in the batter and frosting to help bring all of the flavors to life! Baking soda and baking powder are both used to help the cakes rise. Although if the layers end up with a dome, you're welcome to trim it off so that it's nice and flat before stacking them!
Tips & Storage:
- Always take your cold ingredients out to equilibrate to room temperature before baking! This helps the ingredients absorb and work together better.
- Make sure the cake layers are not only cooled completely, but cold before you begin to frost them. I recommend wrapping them individually in plastic wrap and freezing them for at least an hour.
- If the frosting gets soft on the cake making it difficult to decorate, put the cake in the refrigerator for a few minutes to let it stiffen. The cake will cooperate much better when it's cold.
- Store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze it for up to 1 month. If you do freeze it, I recommend cutting it into slices and wrapping them individually.
Did you try this recipe?
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Spiced Walnut Cake
- (3) 6-inch round cake pans
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring Cups or Scale
- ¾ cup (170g/1½ sticks) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Watkins Organic Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature
- 1¾ cups (218g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons Watkins Organic Ground Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Watkins Organic Ground Nutmeg
- ½ teaspoons Watkins Organic Ground Ginger
- 1 cup (120g) chopped walnuts plus more for decorating (optional)
- ¼ cup buttermilk room temperature (*see notes below to make your own)
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Watkins Organic Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla Extract
- 4 cups (480g) powdered sugar
Making the Cakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 6-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with round sheets of parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and creamy (about 2 minutes). One at a time: stir in the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream (mixing after each addition).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- Slowly mix ⅓ of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, followed by ⅓ of the buttermilk. Repeat until all of the dry ingredients and buttermilk are incorporated into the batter. Fold in the walnuts. Be careful not to overmix - stop stirring as soon as everything is combined.
- Evenly distribute the cake batter into the 3 cake pans and smooth the tops out as much as possible with a spatula.
- Bake all 3 cakes on the middle shelf for 20-30 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans halfway through if they aren't baking evenly. They're done when the tops are light brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 30 minutes and then carefully flip them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once cooled completely, wrap each cake separately in plastic wrap and set them in the freezer for at least 1 hour before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Place the butter in a pan over low-medium heat. Stir until the butter browns and releases a nutty aroma. Let it cool.
- Mix the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the cooled brown butter, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar and mix very well.
Assembling the Cake
- Place 1 cake layer on a turntable or plate and spread ½ inch of frosting on top. Add chopped walnuts if you'd like. Then stack the next layer and repeat. Spread frosting on the sides to fill the gaps between the cake layers. Then, spread more frosting along the sides & top and use a cake scraper or offset spatula to smooth it out. Decorate with walnuts and enjoy!