I have deleted the two tablespoons of brandy (as we have none in our pantry and why would you add it anyway?) and increased the vanilla by a dash or two. Gone also is the mace, replaced by freshly grated nutmeg, its sister spice. A crunchy sugar topping, with the tiniest bit of nutmeg mixed in, is sprinkled on the top to make it sparkle in the sunlight from the kitchen window.
The result is a lovely cake, soft and delicate, that allows the subtle flavorings of organic vanilla and fresh nutmeg to sing through the pleasant mellowness of butter and eggs.
It is delightful, delicious, and just darn good, if I do say so myself.
It has become the favorite cake at our house. The one most requested by my daughter, who is very selective about what she eats, and is generally consumed on the day it is made.
Please close your eyes, as I am about to share the altered recipe here. Now. Quick, close them!
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg*
1/4 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cups organic sugar
1 tsp. plus a dash or two of organic vanilla*
5 large eggs, at room temperature
beat butter until is is creamy and add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy.
Mix in vanilla.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
Add flour mixture to the butter mixture gradually, mixing just until blended after each addition.
Pour batter into pan and smooth the top.
Sprinkle with sugar and nutmeg mixture.
If you by chance have cake left at the end of the day, you will want to store it in an airtight container of some sort. Just make sure it is one that is noislessly accessible when you wake up for a midnight snack, so as not to awaken the rest of the household. :)
*- The original John Clancy recipe ( as found in Victoria's Sweet Baking book,1997) calls for 1/4 tsp. ground mace and the addition of 2 T brandy. Reduce vanilla to 1 tsp. if you choose to make it this way.