Araby Spice Cake

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This is a recipe clipped from the Norman Transcript, and published in that paper alongside its “lightened” version. Due to the column layout, I have cropped the images for clarity of reading; the original recipe is the only one shown here. While the lower-calorie and lower-fat version sounded intriguing, the “fat-full” recipe caught my eye. Cocoa, vanilla, lemon, and nuts? My interest was piqued; I knew that I had to bake this cake. Besides, the nutrition facts on the original aren’t that extreme – any dessert I could order at a restaurant would be much worse for me. Rationalization (and baking) ahoy!

After baking, I still have no idea what makes this cake “Arabian”, but it certainly is good! The flavor is nuanced, and a little hard to describe. If you have ever had windmill cookies, imagine that same taste combined with a light, springy texture. It is not overly sweet, but it is interesting – in the good way, not in the Chinese proverb way. :) When I make spice cake from a box, I usually frost it with cream cheese frosting; after tasting this cake, I decided to simply serve it with whipped cream.


  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 7/8 cups all-purpose flour (yes, I know, it’s an odd measurement… just go with it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Grease and flour a 13” x 9” baking dish, and set aside.


Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy.


Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.


Add the vanilla extract, lemon extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa, and mix well.


Add the flour,  baking powder, and baking soda alternately with the buttermilk, and mix well.


Stir in the nuts.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream.


Click here for a print-friendly version.


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