On Saturday night, my parents hosted a dinner party and my mum, in typical fashion, prepared a wonderful array of Japanese specialties. To ease a bit of her burden, I volunteered to make dessert. I always have the hardest time picking a recipe, but my first stop is usually Desserts for Breakfast, where Stephanie curates a delightful collection of creative recipes. I've used her olive oil cake recipe as a base for many of my most recent cakes, and perhaps I'm a little partial to her because she's a Stanford PhD student--go Card!

I narrowed down my options and asked my parents to pick one, and the verdict was Stephanie's Lemon Speculoos Layer Cake. If you don't know what speculoos is, you must be enlightened immediately. It is a wonderful spiced cookie from the Netherlands/Belgium that is eaten around Christmas time. The geniuses at Lotus--the company that makes the generic supermarket brand of speculoos here in Europe--created a spread which is absolutely delicious on toast and crêpes. Since then, Trader Joe's in the States has created its own version called Cookie Butter, which evidently became so popular that some of the stores started limiting customers to one or two jars. Stephanie's recipe is a lemon cake with speculoos icing made from this spread.

However, this recipe is for a layer cake, which means one needs to bake three separate cakes. I unfortunately didn't have the tools nor the time to do this, so I searched around the web for a lemon sponge cake recipe that would rise enough. One day, when I have a bigger kitchen, I'll own three cake tins and make layer cakes every week. But for now, this will have to do:

Lemon Speculoos Cake

(adapted from Desserts for Breakfast and vryan):

For the cake:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200g butter
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g flour
  • 3 Tbspn baking powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (360ºF). Grease the cake tin, then dust with flour, shaking off the excess.
  2. Beat caster sugar, butter and lemon zest until light and fluffy. 
  3. Gradually add beaten eggs, beating well after each addition. 
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in, ensuring completely combined. 
  5. Pour mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes (or until a pick inserted into the cake comes out clean.)
  6. Let cake cool until room temperature

For the icing:

  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g speculoos spread
  • 100g sifted powdered sugar (add more if you want a thicker consistency, but be careful not to oversweeten)
  • 150g cold cream cheese
  • dark chocolate sprinkles
  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy
  2. Add the speculoos spread and beat until well-combined
  3. Gradually beat in the sifted powdered sugar
  4. Gradually add small chunks of cold cream cheese, beating well after each addition
  5. Ice the cake, then add chocolate sprinkles