Food You Can Eat: Spicy Snack Cake with Citrus Glaze

As our retrospective continues, this post brought a tear to my eye, as our elderly dog crossed the rainbow bridge not long after it originally ran on December 1, 2020.

One of our dogs is an elderly Chihuahua, who was rescued from the puppy mill with a greater number of health problems than those of our usual rescues. Violet takes nine pills a day and getting her to eat them is an Olympic sport. Unlike larger dogs, any pill is big for her, so the pill-delivery system must be tasty enough for her to swallow them. This cake was a winner for taking pills – and if Violet would scarf it down, I suspect that you, too, will enjoy it. It is a simple, basic sheet cake, and the spiciness makes a good choice for the holidays.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, brush the pan with oil, and then line it with parchment paper that overhangs the edges. You will pull the cake out of the pan by the paper after it has baked. I discovered parchment paper only a few years ago – it is a gift to the cook who dislikes clean-up.

Mix together 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, ¾ cup sour cream, 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons whole milk. Set aside.

Mix together 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tablespoon and ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon each of whatever pumpkin pie style spices you have – I used cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, making a thick batter. Pour it into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven, the cake out of the pan using the parchment paper, and cool.

Once the cake is cool, mix together ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 and ½ tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and one tablespoon lemon juice. If the glaze is too thick, add more lemon juice – you want it to be pour, not spoon, onto the cake. Pour the glaze over the cake – the parchment paper can catch the runoff.

I decorated it with a bit more zest and some walnuts. (Butcher, you can use pecans or almonds or no nuts at all.)  Allow the glaze to set about 30 minutes, then cut into serving-sized bars.

Should you make this? If you have the ingredients on hand, it isn’t really that hard. I combined a recipe from my family with a recipe from Martha Stewart to make this. But you can use any basic spice cake recipe – the glaze it what adds the zing.

About Elliecoo 523 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. I’d make this but I’m afraid I’d eat the whole pan! There’s a theory that holiday has no calories so I guess I can add it to the Christmas dinner list. 

    • What are you talking about? This is healthy by my standards. Eggs are a good source of protein. Spices can be somewhat curative. Lemon, especially zest, is a good source of Vitamin C. Vanilla extract is an antioxidant. 
      Whistles past the graveyard. I have an appointment bright and early tomorrow to discuss my bloodwork. I’m guessing this isn’t going to go very well. But maybe not that bad. I always ask my doctors, “Yes, that’s the ideal, but what about people my age, not those who are 20-year-old track and field team members?” That usually quiets them down.

  2. Violet is the smartest goddamn dog ever. “Screw the string cheese.”

    I discovered parchment paper only a few years ago – it is a gift to the cook who dislikes clean-up.


    • @MemeWeaver, right? Parchment paper is the best thing ever – I have no idea why I was so late to the party, but it has revolutionized my clean-up routine.

      • I think because it’s so counter-intuitive. You put paper in an oven and not only does it not burn, it actually helps the home cook. I remember the first time I saw someone secure meat with twine and put it in the oven. “Won’t it burst into flames?” “Of course not. Why would it?”

        • You can re-use it a lot too, if what you made isn’t too gooey. If you use it for cookies you can use it at least few times. Learned that in pastry school. 

    • Lucky you. Fanny is almost as picky as Violet. I have to stuff the pill into a piece of cheese, cover the cheese in peanut butter, wrap the whole mess in bread and smush it together. Any variation and she nibbles the parts she likes and spits out the pill. 

      • @Hannibal, @ButcherBakerToiletryMaker, then there is the “psyching out the dog” aspect of pill delivery.  (Remember, 9 pills a day.) Keitel uses the tease with a tiny milk-bone, pull it away for a cream cheese covered pill, push the milk-bone in next, very slight-of-hand technique. I go for the flat-out jealousy technique “oooh your sister likes this yummy treat, oooh your brother does, too; and so does your other brother…would you like one?” I’ve been told that the magic pill system is liverwurst, but Violet has Cushing’s disease and cannot have any organ meats, least we screw up her carefully calibrated Vetyrol dosage.

  3. Oh, @elliecoo, rereading these old FYCEs brings a tear to my eyes. It feels like it was a lifetime ago. This horrible, goddam pandemic, and my own descent into my bitter old age—oh well, I will promise to try to do better.

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