Nutmeg Spice Cake To Have and To Hold

It’s official, summer wedding season is on. I hosted an engagement party for two dear friends last week and I’m still recovering from my sister’s bachelorette Florida getaway the past weekend. Already, certain themes for this series of matrimony have emerged. Lifelong happiness? The need to shun sweets to squeeze into a dress?

No, for me the theme is ice cream. And cake. Paired with booze. This is entirely my issue. And I have to live with that.

In my defense, I hadn’t planned on my sister’s bachelorette dinner in Daytona being so dismal that it forced forgoing the final course: our party—instead—opting for a taxicab ride to the Winn Dixie for dessert, etc.. I hadn’t planned on washing down a gallon of ice cream with plonk at midnight on a beach vacation. Flash to me with a bottle of cheap Riesling in one hand and a tub of Rocky Road in the other.

On a more successful dessert fête, my friends’ engagement party on my patio featured a buffet of homemade ice cream, paired with a number of fizzy alcoholic beverages for an adult ice cream float fest that would have made Bacchus proud. And there was cake. Specifically, nutmeg spice cake with a rum meringue buttercream.

While cocktails + ice cream is good—and sometimes a necessity—booze with cake is better. This will forever be true for me. And it likely explains why I have such strong feelings about wedding cake. (Read: + open bar.)

I now sit with a leftover slice of cake and can’t help but think how mind-blowing it would be to wash it down with some brandy. The cake itself is like reincarnated eggnog. Each ethereal bite is a cakey reminder of the special occasion cocktail I hold near and dear to my heart.

With this dessert, two souls become one. It’s the perfect marriage of innocence and depravity, a fluffy, moist cake, wrapped in a meringue buttercream and tucked in with a nip of rum. It’s not overly showy, nor is it overly complex to create, but it’s a recipe worth hanging on to all the days of your life.

This cake is patient, this cake is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is nutmeg and rum together, in arguably their finest hour.

So I, Emily, take you, nutmeg cake, to be my pastry partner. And with this fork, I thee eat.

Nutmeg Spice Cake with Rum Meringue Buttercream

Adapted from Joanne Chang's cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves, freshly ground
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Rum Meringue Buttercream
1.5 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1.5 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4-8 tbsp dark rum (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans (if making a layer cake) or one 9 inch pan. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and oil for about 1 minute. On medium speed, slowly add in sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add about a third of this mixture to creamed mixture above and mix until just combined; add half buttermilk, mix briefly; scrape down sides of bowl to incorporate all of mixture. On low speed, add half of remaining flour mixture and then the remaining buttermilk. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared cake pan(s).

Bake cake in the middle of your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.

To make the buttercream, in a small heatproof bowl, whisk sugar and egg whites together. Place a small amount of water in a saucepan big enough to allow your bowl to fit in it. When the water is simmering, place the bowl with the sugar and egg whites over the water; ideally, the bowl should not be touching the simmering water. Whisk the mixture for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is hot to the touch.

Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes, until it becomes a light, white meringue. Turn the speed down to low and add the butter at 2 inch chunks and mix for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture looks curdled it will eventually smooth out, you may need to beat it for a few more minutes.

Add vanilla, salt and 4 tbsp of the rum and whip for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste and add additional rum until desired, whipping briefly to incorporate.

Frost cake. Dust with additional freshly grated nutmeg. Eat cake.

Serves 8-12 (this depends on the size of your slices and the amount of spirits you've consumed)

-The buttercream can be refrigerated for a few days if you aren't using it immediately; out of the refrigerator, beat for about 10 minutes before frosting. (Frosting may separate, but it will come together again.)

-If you happen to have leftovers of this cake, it will freeze brilliantly (even frosted), allowing you to eat it at midnight should that tickle your fancy.

-This is the stuff dessert dreams are made of. Nutmeg is also said to be an aphrodisiac. I'm just sayin' ...

-Ironically, the pastry chef that came up with this dessert at Flour was making it for a friend's wedding.


  1. The cake looks and sounds so amazing! I am so sorry that you sister's party was not all you had hoped for.Reisling & ice cream sound like perfect consolation to me

  2. What an adorable post! I've had a lot of cheap wine and dessert nights too!

  3. The cake looks great. My wedding season finally finished. I got lucky with early year weddings.

  4. I adore your writing, just thought you should know!

  5. Great post, terrific-looking recipe. Although, I must confess, with the nutmeg and rum, I'm leaning towards a winter wedding for this one.

  6. I wish there was a way to try food through the computer, because I really want a slice of this cake now! It sounds like a cake that could be for all seasons.

  7. I feel a sisterhood movement forming...MMmmmmmm. Great post!

  8. the cake sounds wonderful, and i'm pretty excited about that frosting, too. nice merger indeed! this may be one of the few times i ever say this, but hooray for wedding season! :)

  9. I'm gonn ahave to hurry up and look up this recipe in my copy of Flour. The flavors sounds amazing and too good t pass up.

  10. Thanks for giving me your blogcard at The Mead Hall! I told my wife,but she said the recipes are beyond her skills. But still, great stuff! FYI, not completely off-topic, but I ate 3 wonderful ripe Santa Rosa plums off my tree yesterday. What can be better?

  11. This cake looks like the perfect thing to make on a rainy summer day - yum :)