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?
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Cinnamon-Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting

5 from 2 votes
Cook: 27 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total: 37 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
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. 


  • 1 16-oz box yellow cake mix
  • 1 3.4-oz box 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
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted, finely chopped*
  • pecans, whole toasted, for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Spoon about one cup of frosting onto the top of the cake and spread to the edges.
  • 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.
  • Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  • 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)
  • Remove parchment paper, pushing against the chopped pecans so that you don't pull the frosting off the cake.
  • Garnish with whole pecans. Serve and enjoy! Start with small slices. This cake is pretty rich.


*If you are making this cake to go with the Maple Pecan Frosting, you will need 1 and 1/4 cups TOTAL finely chopped toasted pecans.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 432mg | Potassium: 105mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 231IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 407
Keyword: buttercream frosting, Cake, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Maple, pecan
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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

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    I’ve never made Hate Cake with sour cream and oil but I’m REALLY excited about it.

  2. hahaha your stories always make me smile – I love them!

    And this cake. That frosting. Which I need in my life by the way… care to send me some?? :)

  3. I hope my sister reads this. She’s been all over that “dirt hypothesis” since she had kids about a million years ago. Eric definitely is a great example for it also. He’s always willing to eat just about anything in the fridge that doesn’t crawl out of its container. And he’s still alive!

    Chip and I are low-carbing it for awhile but this is definitely on my list to eat when we have a day off!

    1. haha, you are right about your son and leftovers. It’s a gift. Especially for the husband of a food blogger.

  4. I just finished writing a post about how I gave my kids donuts for breakfast. Today. Tuesday. A school day. But I also made them eat 2 prunes to help compensate for my awesome decision making. *high five* This cake looks amazing! And if it was in my house right now, I’m certain my kids would be eating it for dinner.

    1. Prunes make up for ANY nutrition deficiency, in my book. You can totally feed them this cake for dinner, as long as you give them an equivalent amount of prunes for dessert. Also, bonus, they will probably get to stay home sick with you the next day!

  5. I’m picturing you feeding Truman from now on by just dumping a bag of X (cereal? crackers? SOUP?) over him and hoping some of it falls in his mouth. EAT, CHILD!

    I’d buy the book about this frosting. Cardamom is my JAM. Like, I can eat it on everything.

    1. Bahaha I’m having horrible images of Truman covered head to foot in tomato soup now, with a grilled cheese sticking out of his mouth for good measure.

  6. Wowzers. Can I have this for supper? My kid would be totally stoked if I let her eat a bag of raisins off the floor for lunch — no judgments here!

  7. HUNGER GAMES!!! I can’t wait. Yipee! All I want to do right now is binge watch movies 1 and 2 and eat this entire cake!!

  8. This cake looks and sounds A-MAZ-ING!!! I have a 17 month old girl, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. Hilarious!

    1. Thanks Sonali!! I’m so glad I’m not the only one out there who understands about raisins on the floor :)

  9. Truman’s lunch sounds perfectly fine to me! I’m constantly eating food off the floor. 5 second rule? More like 5 minute rule. Ha! This cake looks so good! And thank you for making it from a box mix. I think box mix says “I love you” even more : )

    1. I mean really, what is so bad about the floor anyway? People are so prejudice. Thank you for accepting me Natalie, box mix and all!

  10. I never ever fail to laugh when I come here, and I never ever leave without a rumbling stomach. THANK YOU for that!

    1. Nicole thank you so much!! You have no idea how much that means to me! Like, you just confirmed my entire life pretty much. :)

  11. oh my gawd, you are hilarious!!! feeding your kid raisins off the floor and burnt bread! love it!!! seriously tho, hey, 5 second rule and yes, sometimes germs are good. :) now, this cake!!!!! oh my gawd…. cinnamon and cardamom AND Maple Pecan Frosting?!!!! love. . pillsbury classic yellow, eh? I’ve never tired the instant pudding mix into the batter but I hear it’s magical. . pinning and can’t wait to try this!

    1. Thanks Alice! 5 second rule…5 minute rule…same difference right?? Definitely try the pudding mix. And lots of sour cream lol!

  12. Cardamom, yes! And I am totally on the cake mix bandwagon! Doe you think this would work with butter pecan mix, or would that be too sweet?

    1. You know Julia I didn’t even think to use a butter pecan mix! I would do everything the same except the spice levels. (The cinnamon and cardamom) If I were you I would add a little at a time and taste as you go. If the batter is delicious, the cake will be too :)

  13. This cake sounds great and I look forward to trying it soon. Thanks for the recipe! I love that it has cardamom in it!

    1. Thanks Diane! If you love cardamom, you will love this cake. I don’t know why cardamom is not more popular. SO GOOD! Enjoy your cake!

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