I recently visited one of my favorite bakeries here in North Jersey, the B&W in Hackensack and bought my favorite cake.It's a spice cake with chocolate icing. This has been a popular treat with my German relatives for decades. It has a little more excitement than a cupcake, but not the full on spiciness of a gingerbread square.
Spice cakes started in England around the 1100's, Popular and easy to make they were a hot item at the fairs. especially the Saint Bartholomew's Day one. The Germans had something simliar, but eventually redisgned it so the cake became the cookie or lebkuchen. Why my German ancestors loved the cake form I don't know . Perhaps they first had it here and made it part of a family traditon. Perhaps it was similar to a type of ginger cak baked in their native Swabia and Bavaria. It's always been a family favorite whether it was bought or made.
You can make your own spice cakes if your bakery doesnt bake them. Take a package of any gingerbread mix , add a sparse amount of raisins and bake in cupcake papers.You can leave them plain or dust with powdered sugar.The B& W ices them with a fine chocolate glaze that offsets the rich, spicy taste of anise , ginger cardomin and clove. You can also leave them plain and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. the best way is with coffee or tea and usually as an afternoon snack.
Spice cakes are a wonderful treat. They have an old world richness and feel , different from the mass produced American snack cakes. Buy or bake them to enjoy their flavor.