Family Classic: Nutmeg Feather Cake
Every family has one. That cherished recipe for a dessert without which the holiday would be incomplete. In our family it is the Nutmeg Feather Cake - a buttermilk cake flavored with ground nutmeg that is light as a feather (thus the name) and just screams holiday to me. I'm not sure when my mom got this recipe. Her collection contains a copy of the recipe which likely came from a newspaper or magazine but there is no date. It doesn't matter really; this was on the dessert table every Christmas for as long as I can remember. In fact, this was my mom's go-to recipe anytime she needed a special dessert or was asked to donate a cake for a bake sale.
The recipe for nutmeg feather cake calls for baking the cake in a 13 x 9 pan. My mom always baked it in a bundt pan. Today, I am going to use my NordicWare snowflake cakelet pans. Are you ready to give it a go?
First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your baking pan by greasing then flouring the pan. I usually do this with butter and flour. However, since the snowflake cakelet pans are so detailed, I used PAM spray shortening which includes flour. You can find it in your supermarket.
In a bowl, combine 2 cups of sifted AP flour, 2 teaspoons of ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set your dry ingredients aside.
Next, in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together 1/4 cup each softened salted butter and shortening. For the shortening, I use Crisco baking sticks. The marked foil packaging makes measuring your shortening easy. While the mixer is running, gradually add in 1-1/2 cups of granulated white sugar to the butter shortening mixture, creaming until light. During this process, you may need to stop the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl to ensure that the sugar is evenly distributed through the butter/shortening mixture. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract then add in 3 beaten large eggs. Beat this mixture on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
Now your ready for the buttermilk and the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients alternately with 1 cup of buttermilk to the mixer bowl. What do I mean by adding the dry alternately with the buttermilk? Add just a portion of the buttermilk, about 1/3 cup and mix in. Then add in about a third of the dry ingredient mixture to the bowl and beat it in. Repeat this process until all of the buttermilk and dry ingredients have been mixed in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to ensure everything is evenly incorporated.
After mixing the batter, scoop it into your baking pan and slide it into the oven. If you are using a 13 x 9 pan, bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes. A bundt cake will need about 45 to 50 minutes. My snowflake cakelets needed just 18 minutes to reach golden perfection. Regardless of which pan you choose to use, your cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If I have baked either a bundt cake or the smaller cakelets or cupcakes, I let the cakes cool in the pan for about 6 minutes before turning them out on a rack to cool completely. Here are the snowflake cakelets after being turned out of the pans.
When my mom made nutmeg feather cake, she always frosted the cake with a simple almond buttercream frosting. The combination of nutmeg with almond is absolutely divine! However, today I am not going to use frosting for my cakelets because I don't want to cover the snowflake designs. So, I've sifted a little confectioner's sugar over the cakes. What do you think? Would you like to try one? They are mighty tasty!
I hope that you give this recipe a try. It is a cherished holiday favorite in my family. Enjoy and happy holiday baking, dear friends!