French Four-Spice Cake with Browned Butter Spice Frosting

French Four-Spice Cake with Browned Butter Spice FrostingRecipe
Photo: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Karen Shinto
This cake starts out tasting like citrus and sweet spices, then builds to a gentle pepper glow if the quatre epices is made with white pepper, or a good kick if it's based on black pepper.
12 servings


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1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons quatre épices
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon quatre épices
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts


Total: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-in. square pan.

2. Make cake: Beat butter, brown sugar, and zest in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well blended. In another bowl, combine flour and other dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to butter mixture one-third at a time, alternating with buttermilk half at a time, and beating on low speed after each addition until blended. Spread batter in pan.

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack, 10 minutes. Loosen cake from pan with a slender spatula, then invert onto a rack. Re-invert onto another rack; cool completely.

4. Make frosting: Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a mixer bowl, let cool, then chill until firm enough to beat, about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except for nuts and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, occasionally scraping inside of bowl.

5. Split cake horizontally with a long serrated knife. Lift off top layer with 2 wide spatulas. Set bottom layer on a platter, then spread with half of frosting. Replace top layer. Spread top of cake with remaining frosting, then sprinkle with nuts.

quatre épices

Created date

October 2010

Nutritional Information

Calories 490
Caloriesfromfat 44 %
Protein 4.5 g
Fat 24 g
Satfat 13 g
Carbohydrate 68 g
Fiber 1.3 g
Sodium 348 mg
Cholesterol 85 mg