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Test Kitchen Approved

Black Onyx Cake with Vanilla Bean Paste Frosting

Recipe By Elizabeth Bannas, daughter of Savory Spice—Sellwood/Portland, OR owners Jim & Anne Brown


12 servings

Prep Time

20 Minutes

Cooking Time

40 Minutes

Recipe By Elizabeth Bannas, daughter of Savory Spice—Sellwood/Portland, OR owners Jim & Anne Brown

This recipe yields a silky-smooth, moist cake. The cake is not too sweet, which makes the vanilla frosting a perfect pairing. We highly recommend the optional addition of maple extract in the frosting and maple sugar for dusting the finished cake.

Recipe Notes

*To use vanilla beans: split beans in half lengthwise and scrape seeds out from pod with the back of a knife. Use empty pods to make homemade vanilla extract or flavor homemade vanilla sugar.

This recipe makes 2 (9- to 10-inch) Bundt cakes or round cakes for stacking. If using a round cake pan, make sure it has tall sides as the batter is thin and can overflow in a smaller cake pan.


For cakes:

3 cups milk

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean of choice*:

5 eggs

3 1/3 cups cups all-purpose flour

For frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 to 6 Tbsp. milk

Savory Spice ingredients in this recipe

  • Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste

    Our Madagascar vanilla bean paste is formulated to match Madagascar vanilla extract in flavor, strength, and usage. The paste holds hundreds of van...

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  • Madagascar Vanilla Beans

    Our Madagascar Vanilla Beans are Grade A, the highest quality available. Grade A beans, also called prime or gourmet beans, are pliable and plump w...

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  • Mexican Vanilla Beans

    Our Mexican Vanilla Beans are Grade A, the highest quality. Grade A beans, which are also known as gourmet or prime quality, are plump and pliable....

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  • Ugandan Vanilla Beans

    Ugandan vanilla beans are a premium quality. These beans are plump, pliable, succulent, and flavorful. The purchase of these beans supports local f...

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  • Mayan Sea Salt

    Mayan Sea Salt has a clean appearance and flavor but is also an interesting tie to the ancient Mayan way of life. This sea salt was harvested off t...

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  • Black Onyx Cocoa Powder

    This cocoa powder has been alkalized to the extreme, producing a dark, purplish black cocoa that makes for an impressive black-as-coal baked good. ...

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  • Dutch Cocoa Powder

    Cocoa powder comes from beans that grow in pods on the Theobroma cacao tree. Native to many South American countries, these trees now grow all arou...

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  • Natural Maple Extract

    Our Natural Maple Extract is perfect for adding the sweet, yet savory, flavor of maple to many types of dishes. As with our other extracts, this pr...

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  • Pure Maple Sugar

    This tasty Pure Maple Sugar is made by drying maple syrup that has been tapped from the sweet maple tree, and then grinding it into granules. Like ...

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For cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix milk with lemon juice and set aside; after 10 min. this mixture curdles/thickens into the equivalent of buttermilk. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer until evenly blended. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and gradually add to butter mixture until combined. Add milk/lemon mixture until combined. Gradually increase speed to high and beat for 3 min., stopping to scrape sides of bowl as needed. Pour batter into 2 greased Bundt or cake pans and bake for 35 to 40 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes completely before turning out and frosting.

For frosting: Beat butter, sugar, vanilla bean paste and maple extract (if using) with an electric mixer until evenly blended. Gradually add milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Less milk yields a spreadable frosting and more milk yields a pourable glaze. Frost cooled cakes and sprinkle with maple sugar (if using).