Yule Wonderland Winter Solstice Cake

Transform your table into a winter wonderland with this elegant winter solstice cake.

Elevate any Yule gathering with simple, indulgent ingredients like cream cheese, candied cranberries and springs of rosemary.

The Magic of Key Ingredients

With my winter witchcrafting addiction in full blown relapse, I see ideas everywhere this time of year for a cozier, more magical Yule.

On one of my wintery window-shopping excursions, I spotted a cake similar to this one in a professional baker’s shop for $60!

Naturally, I did what any self-respecting kitchen witch would do and went on a 3-hour Pinterest binge, only to discover you can make it yourself for less than $15.

(Thanks especially to Blue Bowl and The Butter Half for their particularly helpful advice on how to pull off a cake like this one).  

Whenever I head in the kitchen for a little session of culinary magic, I try to think carefully about the meaning of each key ingredient.

Here’s why I selected this winter solstice cake, which features ingredients that capture the essence of the Yule/Imbolc season.

Cranberries

Also included on my recent autumn abundance boards, cranberries are the crown jewels of the late harvest season in North America.  

Hard berries symbolize the hidden color of the colder months, reminding us to look for joy even in the midst of transition to darkness.

Rosemary

An herbal staple during the winter months, rosemary stars in this dish for its many magical properties.

In particular, we include rosemary as an evergreen and a symbol of hope in the hardscrabble of winter.

Ginger

Among ginger’s many other magical properties, ginger is ruled by the element of fire, which symbolizes the return of the light at the hour of the winter solstice.

Cinnamon

Another ingredient prized for its magical uses, include ginger in this winter solstice cake for its tendency to draw out love and compassion.

Although cinnamon is frequently used in spells for romance, it’s also used in spells for familial love and the fierce protectiveness we feel for those closest to us.

Cream Cheese & Milk

We frequently use dairy in winter sabbat recipes because it traditionally provided sustenance to our agriculture-centered ancestors during the “fruitless months.”

Dairy also symbolizes growth, potential and nurturing the youth. 

For the Cake

-3 cups all-purpose flour

-1 tablespoon baking powder

-1 teaspoon salt

-1/2 tablespoon ginger

-3/4 tablespoons cinnamon

-1 1/4 cup sugar

-1 stick softened butter

-1/2 cup coconut oil (room temp)

-1 1/4 cup milk

-4 eggs

-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting

-1 stick softened butter

-1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

-4 cups powdered sugar

-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Decor

-6-7 sprigs rosemary

-9 or ten cranberries

-1/2 cup sugar

-1/2 cup water

Step 1

Preheat the over 350 degrees.

Grease two 9-inch baking pans.

From the cake ingredients, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, cream together sugar, butter and coconut oil, beating until light and fluffy.  Then, add eggs, milk, vanilla and flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Divide equally into greased baking pans.

Bake until golden, or until a fork comes out clean from the center of the cake.  Mine took about 30-35 minutes.

Step 2

Make the frosting.

While the cake is baking, cream together cream cheese, softened butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

Beat or mix until creamy and smooth.

Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Step 3

Make the candied rosemary and cranberries.

On to stove, mix sugar and water in a small pot on the stove.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and continue to simmer for another 5-8 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly.  (A good rule of thumb is to let it cool enough that you can touch it comfortably–but don’t burn yourself testing that theory!)

Dip cranberries and rosemary sprigs into sugar/water mixture, then roll them in granulated sugar.

Pop them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (or while cake is cooling).  You can leave them in there for up to 24 hours if you want to do this ahead of time.

Step 4

Allow the cake layers to cool completely.

Turn cakes out on a piece of parchment or wax paper.

Stack layers on whatever serving platter you’re going to use.

Then, using a rubber spatula (or your preferred frosting tool), frost the cake with the icing.

Decorate with sprigs of candied rosemary and cranberries.

Serve and enjoy.  Merry solstice!  

Tips & Tricks

-Overwhelmed by the rush of the holidays?  Take it in stages over several days.  Make the cake layers first, freezing them for up to a week.  The next day, make the frosting.  Then, make the candied cranberries and rosemary, and pop those in the freezer about 24 hours ahead.  Then, the day of, just assemble, frost and decorate.

-You can play around with the spices.  Experiment with nutmeg, cloves or even cracked black pepper to give this cake a little extra flare.

A perfect winter solstice cake recipe for Yule or Christmas.

7 Comments

  1. Hi, please suggest alternative ingredients for vegan readers. I can easily substitute dairies with non dairies products, but maybe other readers can’t. Thank you. Happy wintertime!

    1. Hi Rosetta! Thanks for your comment.

      As a general rule, I don’t recommend substitutions that I’ve never actually tried.

      But if you have some you’d like to share with the readers, please feel free to suggest them.

    1. I stacked them right on top of each other, but honestly, I wish I’d frosted them in between. I think it would be better that way.

  2. My sister just informed me that she hates rosemary. Could you recommend a good replacement, both for the magical properties and tastiness?

    1. Haha, I understand this problem! I also have a bunch of really picky eaters in my extended family.

      So, rosemary works really well for this because it both looks like little trees and is actually edible. And it’s an evergreen.

      It’s kind of hard to find all those properties at once.

      Sage is an edible evergreen, but it doesn’t really have that “tree” look.

      Juniper is a tree-like evergreen, but some species are toxic, and the ones that aren’t taste terrible.

      Thyme doesn’t look tree-like, but you could make really pretty miniature wreaths out of it, or ring the base and that would be lovely.

      Also, bear in mind that the rosemary isn’t actually in the cake mix. It’s decoration only, so you could just pull the sprigs out or serve her a piece without any on it.

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