Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Indonesian Spice Cake, The Perfect Holiday Party Dessert

   The holidays are upon us and this is the time of year for party, party par-tay!!! It seems like there's some kind of do every night. This is also the time of year for film nominations and my husband and I each receive DVD screeners from the studios so that we can vote. Sometimes a neighbor or two drops in to watch with us and then Dessert Must Be Served! I'm always looking for new and different desserts to make, and while trawling through a bunch of Indian recipes, I came across one for cake.
   Cake is not something one typically associates with Indian cuisine, but different countries pick up different things from a lot of places, and this particular South Asian cake recipe comes via the Dutch.
When Dutch traders started frequenting Indonesia, it was  just a matter of time before their buttery cakes met the wealth of Indonesian spices and an amazingly tasty dessert was born.
   Actually there are other cakes in Kerala which bear a resemblance to this one. Some are made with carrots with or without eggs, and sometimes they contain a variety of nuts and dried fruits. All of them put the traditional old "doorstop" fruitcake to shame.
   This particular cake is my adaptation of a recipe from James Oselands' Cookbook, Cradle of Flavor. Traditionally this cake is baked almost like a terrine, adding each layer in a separate baking while basting with butter. I decided that a bundt cake would involve less labor and less butter though I have to be clear here, I've rarely met any butter I didn't like. Also, the one thing this cake does not lack is butter as you'll see.

Indonesian Spice Cake

Here's what to do:
 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
 Grease and flour a bundt cake pan
 Sift 2 cups of cake flour
  then sift it again this time adding:
 1 tsp nutmeg
 1/2 tsp of baking powder
4 tsps of cinnamon
 1/2 tsp of ground cloves
a pinch of kosher salt
 Set the dry mixture aside
In a large bowl beat together 3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature. When the butter is nice and soft, cream in 1 and 2/3 cup of sugar a bit at a tiime. Beat the mixture until it's nice and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
 Now add in :
 4 whole eggs one at a time. Beat  until each is blended.
 Add the flour mix to the butter a bit at a time until it's all well combined.
 Finally add:
2 tsp of vanilla
3 egg yolks
 When the batter is well mixed add in 1/2 cup of raisins.
  Pour the batter into the prepped cake pan and even it out.
 Set it in the middle rack of the oven.
   Supposedly this cake should be ready in about 1 hour, however my cake took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to bake. When a toothpick poked into it comes out clean, it's done.
  Set it on a rack to cool in the pan for ten minutes, then unmold it. Dust it with a bit of powdered sugar
and serve it with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
 Either way this cake really hits the spot. I'm now toying with the idea of serving it with either a nice ginger ice cream or perhaps a bit of shirkhand.
 The insane thing about this cake is it smells exactly like pumpkin pie when it's baking, and as Alan reminded me...
  "The smell of Good & Plenty candy combined with cucumber, aroused women the most according to a 1999 study by Dr. Alan Hirsch, founder of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. The scent of baby powder had a similar effect. But the smell of cherries, barbecue smoke and men's cologne were turnoffs, he said.

Turn-ons for men: the smell of pumpkin pie and lavender, followed by black licorice and doughnuts. Why? Hirsch doesn't know exactly, but he said the smells could have been comforting or evoked nostalgia.
   Or maybe most men are more like Homer Simpson then they'd care to admit.
"Mmmmmm..Indonesian Spice Cake"


  1. What a great cake - love all of the ingredients! Have fun watching all of those DVD's - sounds great. Happy Holidays!!

  2. Aw, I love your Homer eating the cake. Wish I could watch movies with you and eat Indonesian Spice Cake.

  3. Black licorice? Really? This cake looks wonderful. Wow!! How do we get in on this screening...and cake. =)

  4. Belinda @zomppa
    yeah, I was surprised about women liking cucumber smell..living on our road helps.

  5. Perfect texture and a delicious cake, Kathy.

  6. Ginger ice cream will go so well! Lovely moist cake.

  7. This cake looks like something that wouldnt last two seconds with my sons, they love these types of no frosting cakes your looks really moist and delicious Merry Christmas!

  8. You can't go wrong with the flavors in this cake. I have something similar and I can still remember the smell of it cooking.

    Happy Holidays!




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