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Marbled Spice Cake

I'm making some more recipes from that 1958 cookbook! This time, one that caught my eye was a marbled spice cake. One question came up immediately with this recipe. I made a phone call to the person who is always excited to hear about what I'm baking. "Mummy, what's Spry?" Turns out that Spry was a brand of shortening that was really popping around the time of this book. I had some of the shortening left over from when I made the molasses cookies, so I didn't have to go to the store to make this cake!

Two things to notice about the recipe here:

  1. The frosting mentioned is also in the cookbook, pictured above. I decided to use a brown sugar buttercream instead, which went really well with this cake.

  2. The recipe did not say when to add the sugar. I'm telling you when I added it, but I'm sure that other points in time to add it are just fine!


For two 9 inch round pans

  • 4 cups cake flour

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 cup shortening

  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon allspice (ground)

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves (ground)


  1. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Preheat the oven at 375 degrees F.

  2. Put the flour, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the shortening, 1 cup of milk, and vanilla, and mix on medium for about a minute. Make sure you scrape the sides, and get all the flour mixed in. It looked a lot like biscuit dough at this point - Your hand mixer might struggle.

  3. Add the eggs and sugar and mix on medium until combined.

  4. Add the rest of the milk and mix for about 30 seconds.

  5. Divide the batter in half. Add the spices to one half and mix until combined.

  6. Drop the batter in using a spoon or a scoop, alternating between the batters. I used a half cup scoop, but I feel like anything will work, honestly.

  7. Run a knife or toothpick through the batter in the pans to give it a marble effect.

  8. Bake for around 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  9. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Then use brown sugar buttercream to frost.

Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

I used this recipe from Two Sisters, and mixed in about half a teaspoon of cinnamon at the end. This recipe made enough for me to frost the middle and between layers, but not enough for the sides. That was fine, because it was what I was planning to do anyway. You will want to increase the recipe to at least 6 cups of powdered sugar to frost the whole cake.

The cake turned out great! Except for it sticking in the pan a little bit. That was my fault for being impatient to get it out. The cake was soft and fluffy. Honestly, it was kind of cute and rustic looking since I didn't frost the sides - they were a little crumbly. I really enjoyed the spices, and since the cake wasn't that sweet, I really enjoyed the frosting being sweet with a brown sugar taste.


  • Hate one of these spices? No problem! Just make up the difference using one of the other spices.

  • I also think it would be fine to just use 4 teaspoons of apple pie spice, if you have that but not all of these spices. Pumpkin pie spice might be a mix of exactly the four spices in the recipe.

  • I used about half a cup of sugar less than the original recipe would have called for, and I liked it less sweet. If you like your cakes sweeter, you should be fine to put that half a cup of sugar back in.

  • I don't think I've ever bought cake flour. The internet told me that 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch would be the equivalent of 4 cups of cake flour, so that's what I used. Apparently it makes your cakes less dense. I enjoy dense cakes, though. I might just use all purpose flour in the future.


- My officemate, Freda Li, had a slice for breakfast and then went back for another. I'm gonna call this a win.

- Someone in the department definitely came back for a third slice.


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