A spice cake full of cinnamon and cardamom flavor, made from a doctored yellow cake mix. The cake is accented with Maple Pecan Frosting, just to put things over the top. 

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting from The Food Charlatan

Today was the kind of day where I let my 18-month-old baby fend for himself lunch-wise. He pulled a bag of raisins off the table onto his head, and the whole bag emptied all over the floor. I started to pick them up, but then I realized he hadn’t had lunch yet. And it was approaching 2pm. So instead I let him eat lunch off the floor.

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting from The Food Charlatan

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting from The Food Charlatan

Eric just sent me a link to this article yesterday, which basically says that we should be letting our kids eat dirt for their own good health anyway, so I figure I’m being pretty humane with the raisins. I mean, at least they’re digestible.

Don’t worry I gave him some burned bread too. Awesome mom moments happening all over the place these days. (In my defense, I ate pretty much all the rest of that bread. I just pretended that Peeta had thrown it to me in a thunderstorm while I was starving.)  ^^If you’ve read Hunger Games, click that link. Just do it. Your endorphins can thank me later.

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting from The Food Charlatan

Today we are talking CAKE. Cinnamon-Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting. This is a doctored cake mix, my friends. I saw a picture of someone’s cake on Instagram the other day and it said something like “because only from-scratch cakes are made with love,” and I was like, oh, well I guess all my cakes are sending a clear message of HATRED. “Here’s a cake. I don’t love you.”

I’ve just never found a from-scratch cake that I really loved, and I’ll be honest, cake is not my go-to dessert, so I’m not interested in trying a million recipes to find The One. Maybe one day I’ll catch the cake bug, but for now I’m sticking with the box…plus lots of sour cream and oil.

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting from The Food Charlatan

And did I mention the cardamom? And the cinnamon?? I wanted a fall-themed cake that wasn’t spice cake. (I made this for a friend’s baby shower). I was going to make it just cinnamon. I kept adding more…and more… after my 7th teaspoon I decided to go with some cardamom and it was a fabulous choice. 1 teaspoon was plenty.

And of course the Maple Pecan Frosting is off the chain. (yep. I just said that.) My friend Lara said that there should be a book written about this frosting. I’ll let her write it.

I know it sounds like sacrilege to suggest cake instead of pie for Thanksgiving but…maybe? For this cake I might just consider it.

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter

Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review »

Cinnamon-Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting

Serves One 2-layer cake, serves 10-15     adjust servings


  • 1 (15 or 16 ounce) yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) vanilla pudding mix (dry, don't make pudding!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 7 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 recipe Maple Pecan Buttercream Frosting (click here)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped*
  • whole toasted pecans, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together all cake ingredients (cake mix through cardamom). Scrape down the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula. Beat for another 3 minutes.
  3. Pull out enough parchment paper so that both your cake pans fit on it. Fold the paper in half. Use a pencil to trace the bottom of one cake pan onto the paper. Then cut out the folded paper so you get 2 circles. Place the 2 circles in the cake pans. Spray the sides of the cake pans with nonstick spray.
  4. Divide the batter between the pans. Drop each pan onto your counter from a few inches up, so that some of the air bubbles pop.
  5. Bake the cakes at 300 degrees for about 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, and the center springs back immediately when you touch it.
  6. Let cakes cool 10 minutes in the pan, then run a plastic knife around the edges and invert onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
  7. Wrap each cake in plastic wrap and place on a flat surface (I use a cutting board) in your freezer. Freeze overnight or at least 2-3 hours. This makes it so much easier to frost.
  8. Remove one cake from the freezer and place on a cake plate. Add strips of parchment paper to the edges of the cake (see photos).
  9. Spoon about one cup of frosting onto the top of the cake and spread to the edges.
  10. Take the other cake out of the freezer and place on top of the frosted first layer. Use a sharp serrated knife to trim the top of the cake to make sure it's even.
  11. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  12. Carefully spoon a small amount of chopped pecans to the side of the cake, on top of the parchment paper. Gently press the pecans into the bottom of the cake on the bottom edge, all the way around the cake. (see photos)
  13. Remove parchment paper, pushing against the chopped pecans so that you don't pull the frosting off the cake.
  14. Garnish with whole pecans. Serve and enjoy! Start with small slices. This cake is pretty rich.


If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting from The Food Charlatan

I use a name brand cake mix, and a generic pudding mix. Lining the edge of the cake with pecans can get a little messy, so I put a large tupperware (or a bowl) of the extra pecans underneath to catch any residual. Definitely don’t skip lining the edge of the cake with parchment paper. That way you don’t get frosting on your cake plate, and you can easily pull away excess pecans, keeping it clean.

Fall=Maple. I mean right?:

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears:

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears

30-Minute Maple Bars: (for real though. half hour, tops.)

30-Minute Maple Bars

Maple Cinnamon Quick Bread:

Maple Cinnamon Quick Bread

Maple ideas from around blog land:

Maple Cupcakes from Recipe Girl
Maple-Pecan Sticky Buns from Taste’s of Lizzy T’s
Glazed Apple Maple Blondies from The Recipe Critic