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Dede’s Ararby Spice Cake Recipe

Sliced spices loaf cake on a wire rack and plated.

Today marks an important holiday for the Wilson family!  It’s Aunt Dede’s birthday!  Aunt Dede was my dad’s sister, the baker of every family birthday cake for as long as she lived, and the patron saint of The Bakehouse.  Today we’re celebrating Dede’s birthday and celebrating the ever present smile on her face with Dede’s Araby Spice Cake recipe.

Dede had a few tried and true recipes that we still hold dear.  This Gingerbread Swirl Pound Cake is based off of Dede’s Pound Cake and this Araby Spice Cake first appeared in Joy the Baker Cookbook.  To be fair, Araby spice might seem like a bit of a head scratcher.  The recipe comes from Dede’s 1950’s Better Crocker cookbook.  You know the one? That three-ring binder of a cookbook just about every American family owned.

The flavors of this cake are a mix of cocoa, cinnamon, cloves and citrus.  It has depth and spice and a lift from lemon zest. It’s very particular but deeply comforting as the days shorten and lean towards chilly.

I love this cake as a loaf.  It makes it feel like more of an everyday snacking cake- the kind you eat in slivers as you pass through the kitchen. Put this recipe in your back pocket for Autumn afternoons that call for a sweet bite.

Sliced layer cake next to a portrait of Aunt Dede

Happy Birthday Dede.  You live on at The Bakehouse with every cake we make.

See also: Dede’s Doberge Cake.

Ingredients measured in small bowls for Araby Spice Cake recipe..

Here’s what you’ll need for this Araby Spice Cake recipe:

• melted butter, and if you’re going to melt it you might as well brown it.

•  large eggs.  Here’s why we use large size eggs in baking.

•  cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground allspice to flavor the cake with depth and spice.

•  salt, baking powder and baking soda to balance and leaven the loaf.

•  granulated sugar

•  all-purpose flour

•  lemon zest to brighten the flavors.

•  buttermilk because it’s my favorite baking liquid.

Flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl with a whisk.

Start by whisking together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  These are our dry ingredients. I know this is a baking step that adds an extra dirty dish to the sink. It’s important to evenly combine the dry ingredients – especially the cocoa powder, salt, and leavening so they’re sure to combine evenly into the batter once the dry ingredients hit the wet ingredients.

In a large bowl combine eggs and sugar until the mixture is pale in color and just beginning to thicken.

Add the spices and lemon zest and whisk until thoroughly combined and fragrant.

Browned butter added to whipped egg and sugar mixture.

Stir in the slightly cooled browned butter.  It should all smell absolutely divine.

Dry ingredients added to bowl of sugar and flour.

Add the dry ingredients all at once to the egg, sugar and butter mixture.

Whisk until a smooth and thick batter emerges.

This Araby Spice Cake recipe calls for buttermilk though, if you’re out, you can hold fast to one of these buttermilk substitutes.

Whisk in the buttermilk until you reach a glossy, thick, but still pourable batter.

Bake in a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  I like to line my loaf pan with greased parchment paper that hangs over the side a few inches so it makes the baked cake easy to remove.

Allow the cake to cool to warm room temperature before slicing into thick slices.

Fork into slice of loaf cake with whipped cream and oranges.

This Araby Spice Cake recipe makes for a soft and tender yet sturdy loaf. It’s the kind of cake that’s perfect for breakfast dessert, or afternoon coffee. I love this cake served with soft whipped cream and orange segments to compliment the lemon zest in the cake.

It’s a little delight. I hope this cake brings you joy!


Dede’s Ararby Spice Cake Recipe

Araby Spice Cake recipe on a plate with for and whipped cream.

A classic, sometimes forgotten Betty Crocker recipe updated to become a simple loaf cake.

  • Author: Joy the Baker
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 68 1x
  • Category: dessert



  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams)granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted to browned and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream whipped with a teaspoon of powdered sugar for serving
  • orange segments for serving


  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan, line with parchment paper on two sides if you’d like, and lightly grease the parchment paper too. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together sugar and eggs until well combined and thick. Whisk in the spices and lemon zest. Whisk in the melted butter.
  4. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate the two. The batter will be thick so slowly stir in the buttermilk. Stir the bottom of the bowl well to find any hidden bits of flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, rotating once during baking after 30 minutes or so. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further or serve slightly warm. This cake is really nice served with lightly whipped cream, and orange segments.

Keywords: spice cake, loaf cake, betty crocker, araby spice, tea cake,

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Photos with Jon Melendez.

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