Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
To make the spice mix, blend together the cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside. You’ll only need 1 tablespoon for this cake.
To make the cake, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of flour if the mixture starts to curdle. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, 1 tablespoon hawaij, the baking powder and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until smooth and just combined. Stir in the espresso powder mixture and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the topping, beat the mascarpone in a small bowl until smooth. Pour in the espresso powder, sugar and liqueur, if using, and beat for 1 minute, or until combined. Pour in the cream and whisk until it just reaches a thick spreading consistency. Be careful not to overwhip, as it may split.
Spread the topping generously on top of the cake and create swoops and swirls by using the back of a spoon. Slowly sweep your spoon or offset spatula back and forth across the cake, leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges.
For a layer cake, divide the batter between two greased and lined 6-inch round cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Fill and top with the mascarpone mixture.
Photograph by Holly Wulff Petersen
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE NEW WAY TO CAKE BY BENJAMINA EBUEHI, PAGE STREET PUBLISHING CO. 2019.