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Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake

by . Featured in NIGELLA CHRISTMAS
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Introduction

This is a sleight of hand, or a trick of equipment rather than an act of brilliance. True, the cake does look incredibly complicated and seasonally impressive as it comes to the table, but that is all down to the shape of the tin. It’s an expense to get a tin that can’t be used all year round, but it really is a beautifully Christmassy creation, and a doddle to make. For the “spruced up” of the cake refers to the Holiday Fir tin I bake it in; at other times of the year, I call this Eggy Vanilla Cake and cook it in a 2.5-litre bundt tin, as you can now, too. And the thing is, it doesn’t need just to be brought out as a festive flourish for a supper party, but can be satisfyingly baked and left to preside grandly over the kitchen, commanding anyone to have a slice, damply plain, or toasted, by way of a seasonal treat.

To turn this into Spruced-Up Spice Cake, even more seasonal and just as good, but with less appeal to children, halve the vanilla and add 2 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon and ginger and a half teaspoon of ground cloves.

This is a sleight of hand, or a trick of equipment rather than an act of brilliance. True, the cake does look incredibly complicated and seasonally impressive as it comes to the table, but that is all down to the shape of the tin. It’s an expense to get a tin that can’t be used all year round, but it really is a beautifully Christmassy creation, and a doddle to make. For the “spruced up” of the cake refers to the Holiday Fir tin I bake it in; at other times of the year, I call this Eggy Vanilla Cake and cook it in a 2.5-litre bundt tin, as you can now, too. And the thing is, it doesn’t need just to be brought out as a festive flourish for a supper party, but can be satisfyingly baked and left to preside grandly over the kitchen, commanding anyone to have a slice, damply plain, or toasted, by way of a seasonal treat.

To turn this into Spruced-Up Spice Cake, even more seasonal and just as good, but with less appeal to children, halve the vanilla and add 2 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon and ginger and a half teaspoon of ground cloves.

Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake

Ingredients

Makes: about 12 slices

Metric Cups
  • 225 grams soft butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 300 grams caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 350 grams plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 250 grams plain fat-free yoghurt
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 2 sticks soft butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 1½ cups superfine sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yoghurt
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and put a baking sheet in at the same time. Butter or oil your large, regular or fir-tree shaped bundt tin (2.5 litres capacity / 2½ quart capacity) very, very thoroughly. (I use oil-sodden kitchen paper.)
  2. Either put all the ingredients except the icing sugar into the processor and blitz together; or mix by hand or in a freestanding mixer as follows:– Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.– Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.– Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the bicarbonate of soda, the yogurt and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour and spoon the mixture into your greased tin and spread about evenly.
  4. Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45–60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Let it sit out of the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake, hoping for the best.
  6. Once cool, dust with the icing sugar pushed through a small sieve, to decorate: think fresh snowfall on the alps.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and put a baking sheet in at the same time. Butter or oil your large, regular or fir-tree shaped bundt tin (2.5 litres capacity / 2½ quart capacity) very, very thoroughly. (I use oil-sodden kitchen paper.)
  2. Either put all the ingredients except the confectioners' sugar into the processor and blitz together; or mix by hand or in a freestanding mixer as follows:– Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.– Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.– Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the baking soda, the yogurt and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour and spoon the mixture into your greased tin and spread about evenly.
  4. Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45–60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Let it sit out of the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake, hoping for the best.
  6. Once cool, dust with the confectioners' sugar pushed through a small sieve, to decorate: think fresh snowfall on the alps.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the cake, turn out and leave to cool. Wrap in clingfilm and foil and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make, wrap and freeze the cake for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in a cool room.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the cake, turn out and leave to cool. Wrap in clingfilm and foil and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make, wrap and freeze the cake for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in a cool room.

Tell us what you think

What 25 Others have said

  • I got the tin from Trevor Mottram in Tunbridge Wells, horrendously expensive at just under £40!!! But well worth it. I added lemon, lime and orange zest and some juice and added some mixed spice too to make it more christmassy. I buttered it very well and sprinkled flour inside (as suggested by info on cake mould packaging and just waiting for results! I have some mini robins and a couple of santas to attach when finished!

    Posted by Bakeoffbaker on 13th December 2015
  • I made this cake for our book club evening. It was delicious and cooked perfectly, even though I used white Spelt flour and sweetened it with xylitol!

    Posted by Raw chocolate goddess on 28th January 2016
  • I've made this cake two Christmas' in a row now. Big success! I did buy Everbake Pan Release, this year. Although last year used Pam for Baking. Both worked nicely, Everbake doesn't cause the cake to have a thicker crust, like the Pam did. I used my vanilla sugar, homemade vanilla, and vanilla greek yogurt, to delicious results. My family loves this cake plain, but I served it with fresh strawberries I sweetened lightly with vanilla sugar, and whipped cream. A huge success! Thanks Nigella (I bought my spruce tree pan last year at Williams Sonoma.)

    Posted by knittingaddict on 27th December 2015
  • John Lewis have a lovely bright red cake stand with a fluted edge that is perfect for this cake. I made the spiced up version in my cathedral bundt tin. It was delicious and very Christmassy.

    Posted by Jeanlovesbeads on 9th December 2015
  • I just love this cake!! So little effort put in and such a pleasurable cake to look at. I had people over for drinks and nibbles and they loved this cake, its certainly a show stopper. Now, I need to know where Nigella got the red and white cake stand it sits on, the one thats in the Christmas book, any ideas anyone?

    Posted by tazzle on 27th November 2015
  • Just made this baby and it's a dream. Do butter generously, it works! Sainsbury's have tin reduced to £6.00 at moment. It's not as beautiful as this one but it's still very pretty once sprinkled.

    Posted by allywilliams on 19th December 2015
  • I have made this recipe using strawberry essence and pink food colouring and dusted with white icing sugar for a heavenly result! Also made with pale green food colouring and lime essence which was a huge hit for my husbands birthday cake with green powdered food colouring mixed with icing sugar to decorate. Delicious!

    Posted by Maces_Mum on 6th January 2015
  • Hello, I managed to buy the Bundt Holiday cake tin from The Kitchens Cook Shop. I am in New Zealand and the people at this shop were fantastic, they were only to happy to post it to me. It arrived in NZ 5 days before Christmas in 2012! This is their web site www.kitchenscookshop.co.uk 14 High Street Cardiff. CF10 1AX Tel. 029 2022 7899

    Posted by Maces_Mum on 24th December 2014
  • If you are still having trouble finding this cake pan, Nordicware makes one. I have their gingerbread house pan and am going to try using it. I'm also going to try a gluten free version.!

    Posted by Cultus Lake Rosemary on 16th December 2014
  • Just made this one in a normal tin. Cooking in the oven right now. Fingers crossed!

    Posted by Lydie on 30th December 2013
  • I have had this pana couple years and it works great. I got it at target or walmart, not sure which.

    Posted by uklove3 on 23rd January 2013
  • Made this for my mum's birthday last week and have to say definitely the best cake I have ever made. Was it just me or did it taste like a Madeira cake?! So delicious and will definitely be making it again - very soon!

    Posted by Taj on 10th January 2013
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