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Cardamom cake with piped swoops of eggnog buttercream.

Cardamom Cake with Eggnog Buttercream

Heather Smoke
Soft and moist cake spiced with cardamom, espresso powder and nutmeg, frosted with fluffy and rich eggnog buttercream. A perfect cake for the holidays!

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16


  • Stand Mixer



  • 1 ¾ cups whole buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¾ cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour), spooned and leveled
  • 1 ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)


  • 2 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp meringue powder
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp coarse kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • ½ cup eggnog
  • 2 ½ tsp vanilla extract



  • Preheat the oven to 350 and spray the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the buttermilk just to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cardamom, espresso powder and nutmeg.  Let steep for about 15 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the spiced buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk by hand for about 1 minute, just until smooth and mostly lump-free.
  • Divide the batter between the pans and bake on the middle oven rack for about 22-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched.  Set the cake pans on a wire rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for one minute until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder, salt and nutmeg, and mix just to combine.
  • Add the eggnog and vanilla, and beat on medium high for about 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy.
  • Fill, stack and frost the cooled cake with the buttercream. (See notes on the buttercream piping technique shown.)


  1. You should let all your dairy ingredients (including eggs and buttermilk) warm up to room temperature, which makes for a better cake batter.
  2. You can make this cake using all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, however, the cake flour makes a much lighter and more tender cake that is just heavenly.
  3. If you don’t have buttermilk, pour 1 1/2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, then add whole milk up to the 1 3/4 cups line.  Warm in the microwave on high for one minute to curdle the milk.  You don’t need to let it cool, and can add it to your batter while it’s warm.
  4. Note that I live at high altitude (5,000 feet), so my recipes are created for high altitude.  Don’t let that deter you from trying them if you live at sea level!  Please be sure to review this post and this post for all my baking tips and FAQs before baking.
  5. The buttercream recipe makes enough buttercream for the piping design shown here, but if you just want to frost the cake more simply without the piping, you can scale the recipe down to these measurements: 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon meringue powder, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt, 1/3 cup eggnog, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.
  6. To make this piping design on your cake, first stack and fill the cake layers, then frost all over with a thin crumb coat of the buttercream.  Chill the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Frost the top of the cake with a final layer of buttercream.  Use a sharp knife to lightly score the cake with vertical lines around the sides of the cake, to mark where you will start and stop your piped swags.  Fit a piping bag with a large open star tip (Wilton #1M), and fill with buttercream.  Starting at the bottom, pipe swags around the sides of the cake, starting and stopping at your scored lines.  Work your way up the cake until the sides of the cake are covered.
Keyword Cake, Cardamom, Eggnog, High Altitude
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