Life is short

Friday, January 29, 2021

"Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So, be swift to love, and make haste to be kind."                                                                                                         - from a prayer by Robin Kempster, Parish Nurse, First Church Berkeley UCC

I've tried more than a few new cake recipes since the beginning of the pandemic, and this cinnamon-swirl cake is one of my favourites. It's simple and light, with a wonderful swirl of cinnamon running through it, and a delicious cream cheese frosting.

It's also super-flexible. The recipe bakes three layers, but I've been known to serve one and freeze the other two for later. (I may have a sweet tooth, but not all occasions call for three layers.) I've baked it for a friend's birthday, I've baked it for a friend's anniversary. 

Life is short indeed. Love your friends, serve your community, lend a hand to those in need -- and eat cake.

Cinnamon swirl layer cake

(from Joy the Baker

For the cake

2 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks (whites reserved for below)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
5 large egg whites

For the swirl

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For the frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round baking pans. Cut three rounds of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each cake pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, measure butter and sugar. Cream until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.

Beat in the egg yolks until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add half of the flour mixture and beat with the hand mixer until just combined. On low speed, stream in the buttermilk until just combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until well combined and smooth.

In a separate medium bowl, place 5 egg whites (two reserved, and three additional). Beat at medium high speed until egg whites are frothy and hold medium peaks.

Add the beaten egg whites to the cake batter in three batches: fold the first third into the batter, mixing thoroughly but trying to keep the whites as aerated as possible. Repeat twice more until all the egg whites are mixed in.

Divide the batter between three prepared pans.

To make the cinnamon swirl, stir together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, until glossy and well combined. Drizzle the cinnamon mixture across each pan of cake batter and use a butter knife to gently swirl the two together.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs, not wet cake batter. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes, before inverting the cakes to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat softened cream cheese until pliable. Add butter, icing sugar, salt, vanilla and heavy cream, and beat until smooth. Add a dash more cream or a spoonful more powered sugar to adjust consistency, as needed.

To assemble the cake, place a completely cooled layer on a flat plate. Cover with icing and repeat twice. 

If desired, frost the sides with remaining icing, and decorate with chopped pecans and flowers.


Kitchen Riffs said...

Love the idea of a cinnamon swirl! Good idea to freeze some of the layers -- we certainly like sweets, but we are only two, so a whole cake is a bit much for us to handle. :-) This looks great -- thanks.

Mae Travels said...

I can only imagine how delicious the cake is, but I can see that it is really beautiful. My cake decorating skills are hopeless, but I can see that it’s cleverly done.

be safe... mae at

Angie's Recipes said...

I definitely love the cinnamon anything. The cake looks so gorgeous with smooth creamy frosting and those champagne roses. An excellent creation, Beth. Have a wonderful weekend!

Jeff the Chef said...

This really does sound Like a delicious cake! Thanks For the recipe!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Your cake sounds delicious. I wish I had someone to make it for.

Katerina | Once a Foodie said...

Well said, Beth! Eating cake is definitely one of the simple pleasures in life and this cake does sound amazing. I need to try it out!

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