Cinnamon is a delicious spice that, like vanilla, is often used in conjunction with other flavors and rarely gets the spotlight all to itself. It is paired with ginger, cloves and spices to make flavorful spice blends, and combined with oatmeal and nuts to enhance their nutty qualities. In this Cinnamon Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, cinnamon really takes center stage on its own. It is the main flavor in both the cake and the frosting, and delivers a fantastic warmth and spiciness that makes this cake surprisingly addictive.
I am a big cinnamon fan and found it to be very refreshing to see a spice like cinnamon stand out as the star in a dessert – and the success of this cake is inspiring me to do even more with cinnamon (and different types of cinnamon) in the future. The cake is moist and tender, with a generous dose of cinnamon in the batter. You get hints of butter and vanilla in the batter, as well, but the back up the spiciness of the cinnamon instead of covering it up. It should go without saying that the cake smells fantastic while it is baking.
In the frosting, the tang of the cream cheese is a good contrast for the heat of the cinnamon, and it adds a little extra sweetness to every bite of cake. I tend to think of this cake as an everyday layer cake. It is easy to whip up and isn’t finished off with elaborate frosting or decorations. The frosting is simply spread between the layers of cake and a little bit is put on top to finish it off. The cake definitely has enough flavor to entertain with, but it is a simple cake and you shouldn’t have to wait for a special occasion just to enjoy it.
I used freshly grated cinnamon to flavor both my cake batter and my frosting. If you don’t have freshly grated cinnamon, make sure that your already ground cinnamon is as fresh as possible (buy a new jar if yours is older than 8-12 months) so that you get the best cinnamon flavor in your finished cake. The cake will keep well in an airtight container for several days after baking.
Cinnamon Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (pref. low fat or whole)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible and batter is uniform.
Divide evenly into prepared cake pans.
Bake for 18-22 minutes (9-inch pans will need less cooking time than 8-inch pans), until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Turn cakes out onto a wire rack, remove parchment paper circles and allow to cool completely before frosting.
To frost, place on cake round on a serving platter or cake tray. Top with half of the frosting and spread into an even layer. Place second cake round on top of frosting and top with remaining frosting.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
4-oz (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1 1/2-2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until well-blended. Beat in milk, ground cinnamon and about 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Add additional confectioners’ sugar as needed until frosting is has a creamy and spreadable consistency.
Spread half of the frosting in between the cake layers, and half of the frosting on top.