I made this cake for my niece’s second birthday a couple of weeks ago. A pretty chilled out afternoon – balmy weather, an assortment of salads, cold beers, barbecued snags, kids underfoot. It was a family affair, and my niece had a great-grandmother there from both her dad – my brother – and her mum’s side. Coming from an immigrant family that was almost decimated in World War II, it was especially poignant to have four generations sitting around the table together.
My sister-in-law is one of my favourite people to bake for – she has a killer sweet tooth and so my efforts are always appreciated. I wanted to make a cake for this occasion that had a classic feel – something simple yet sophisticated . I opted for an airy double-layer cinnamon cake – appropriately autumnal – finished off with a rich labneh frosting, tangy and celebratory. I topped it with a bounty of fresh berries too, mostly for the pretty.
In even more wonderfulness, in the time between my niece’s birthday when I made this cake, and today as I write this post, my brother and sister-in-law have had their second daughter! She’s tiny, with long fingers and a shock of dark hair. Even though T has only just turned two I forgot how distinct little babies are – their calm, their smell, their warmth.
And so here is the recipe for Cinnamon Cake with Labneh Frosting, in celebration of babies and daughters, of birthdays and family, of all the sweetest things.
Cinnamon Cake with Labneh Frosting
Adapted from Oh Ladycakes Yellow Cake
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
90 grams butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps cinnamon
1 cup labneh
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180°c/350°f. Butter and flour two 19cm round springform pans, and set aside.
In a small bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
In a large bowl whisk the butter and eggs together, then add the vanilla extract and the cinnamon and continue to whisk until combined.
Pour about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients along with about 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix to combine, continuing to alternate between flour and buttermilk until everything is thoroughly mixed through.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two greased cake tins and bake for for approx. 28 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean of batter.
Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. At this point, you can tightly wrap and refrigerate the cakes overnight, or you can proceed to the next step.
Prepare the frosting by whisking together the labneh, butter, vanilla essence, and icing sugar.
Level off the cakes using a very sharp knife and a keen eye.
Place your first cake in the middle of your serving plate/cake stand. Spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the top, then sandwich on the next mixture. Spread another 1/3 of the frosting over the top of the second cake, then use the remaining frosting to do the sides, and neaten it up as per your aesthetic (as you can see in the pics, I’m pretty chill with a messy aesthetic).
When you’re ready to serve, top the cake with handfuls of whatever berries you have on hand – blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, currants.