Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Super Moist Spice Cake

Homemade and super moist spice cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Such an easy recipe packed with TONS of flavor! sallysbakingaddiction.com

After I shared a spice cupcake recipe— complete with fanciest of frostings– many of you emailed or asked for a spice CAKE recipe. And when someone asks me for specific dessert, especially one so appropriate for the beloved Fall baking season, I put on my apron and mad scientist goggles.

Spice is easily one of the best cake flavors around. It’s in the same family as carrot cake. Chocolate? Who needs it. (Don’t hate me.) Dense, moist, and flavorful enough that frosting isn’t even a requirement. I can’t even believe I’m saying this but when done right, super moist spice cake doesn’t need a swipe of frosting on top.

Though that’s not really stopping you and I. Cream cheese frosting is always welcomed.

Homemade and super moist spice cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Such an easy recipe packed with TONS of flavor! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Completely unrelated to spice cake, though. Today Friday September 23rd 2016 is my dear friend’s wedding day. I’m currently helping the bride get ready for her big day. I’m her matron of honor! My speech is written, the details are finalized, my dress is long and royal navy, and Jess is glowing. I’ll post a picture or two on social media. Congrats to the bride and groom, who met 16 years ago on the beach. ♥ ♥

How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This spice cake recipe is different from my spice cupcakes. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of cupcakes– I prefer light, fluffy, soft, and springy. No matter what that flavor is. When I think of spice CAKE, the direction is drastically opposite. Spice cake is dense and rich. Comforting on cool Fall nights. It has tight crumbs and a moist texture. More compacted flavor in 1 bite than an entire cupcake. We’re talking gingerbread-level flavor.

It’s not difficult to achieve all this. In fact, it’s easier than most cakes and cupcakes you and I have ever made. All you’ll do is whisk dark brown sugar, oil, eggs, spices, and applesauce together. You’ll be amazed at what these simple ingredients can produce. And the cake batter is so easy, you don’t even need your mixer.

Let’s talk spices. You’ll need 4 pantry staples: ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, & cloves. I like to add 1 Tablespoon of molasses, but that’s completely optional. I loved its extra robust flavor inside the cake, but I did test the cake without it. Still wonderful. One other item in this spice cake: 1 cup of grated apple. So much flavor and moisture in there to bring us the most wonderful spice cake to ever grace your baking pan. You can also use grated zucchini or carrot too.

Options keep things exciting!

How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

As we chatted about above, the cake is delicious on its own. No frosting necessary. And if you let the cake sit overnight (make ahead recipe alert!!!), the spice flavor will develop even deeper. But we all know tangy cream cheese frosting is spice cake’s favorite friend. Let’s do it.

Homemade and super moist spice cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Such an easy recipe packed with TONS of flavor! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade and super moist spice cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Such an easy recipe packed with TONS of flavor! sallysbakingaddiction.com

This cake reminds me of the recent banana cake recipe. Only with extra extra Fall spice flavor instead of banana flavor. 🙂

Homemade and super moist spice cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Such an easy recipe packed with TONS of flavor! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cheers to the bride and groom, cheers to Fall cakes!

More Fall cakes and cupcakes:

Super Moist Spice Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canola (240ml) or vegetable oil
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (350g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated apple (or grated carrot/zucchini)
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon molasses

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch pan. I always use this glass pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract, and molasses (if using) together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the grated apple until combined.
  4. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.

Recipe Notes:

Layer cake: I've made this as a two layer cake before. Use 2 9-inch cake pans and bake the layers for 30-34 minutes or until the centers are cooked through.

Bundt cake: This batter will fit into a bundt pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

Adapted from my favorite carrot cake recipe

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Icing Spatula | Kitchenaid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Baking Dish

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How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com
How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

180 comments

  1. Hi! I wanted to ask about the applesauce. It looks homemade and I always make my own anymore too as it’s so easy to make and it comes out so much thicker and with more flavor than any store bought I can find.

    That being said, I often add cinnamon because we like it with our applesauce and, to me, yours looks like it has cinnamon added to it also. I am wondering if I need to cut back on the cinnamon called for in the recipe if using homemade that has it or if you think it would still not be too much if I put in the stated amount?

    Btw, my and my husband’s new favorite cake is your recipe for the best banana cake! Made it following the directions exactly and it was (is) the absolute best banana cake we’ve ever had. So good, he wanted me to make another a week later and this coming from a guy who always says, I don’t like cakes, they’re too dry, lol! (I did make him a second one but when he asked again the third week, I laughed and said No! Not so soon! Lol!)

    Anyway, I love spice cakes but most ARE too dry. This looks like a recipe I had 40 years ago but lost. It was dense but very, very moist and absolutely full of rich spicy, apple-y flavor too! Hope yours tastes like it as I have not found one that good since.

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to experiment! And for sharing with all f us.

    • Hi Peggy! Yes, the pictured applesauce is homemade with a little cinnamon. I didn’t alter the cinnamon amount in the recipe.
      I’m so glad you love that banana cake!! Honestly if you love that cake, you’ll love this spice cake too. Let me know if you try it!

  2. I don’t have vegetable or canola oil, is coconut oil ok?

  3. I just pulled this out of the oven. It was so easy to put together that I didn’t even have to use my kitchen aid mixer. The bake time for me was 45 minutes. Every Sunday I make a cake to go along with Sunday dinner. This smelt amazing while baking and cooling. I can’t wait to try it, thanks for the great recipe!

  4. I am a scratch cook and a foodie, to the core! However, I am by no means a baker. After having a successful maiden voyage with your banana cake, I decided to try this one, and it did not disappoint! It was wonderful. Thank you. I added raisins, and may also add walnuts next time. Outside of that, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfect!

  5. Could I use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar in the cake?

  6. Now my family’s FAVORITE CAKE. THANK YOU

  7.  I halved your recipe and it fitted in a 6inch deep circular cake pan (baked for 35 minutes) with a little batter leftover I put in a glass ramekin pot (baked for 15 minutes). Made my own applesauce using 2 Apples peeled cored and chopped into small cubes, splash of lemon juice, just under 1/2 cup water and a little 1/2 tsp of white sugar in a saucepan with lid on for 10 minutes then mashed it. I didn’t have molasses and used 2tsps of Mixed Spice so my Cake was flavourful but not too heavily spiced (I like Cinnamon but find other spiced cakes too rich) so Turned out perfect and well received. And I’m glad I could reduce the baked amount successfully. Thanks Sally! 

  8. I want to make this for my mother for her birthday. But she’s only one person. So I was to make a smaller cake. How can I half the ingredients.
    Thanks

    • Hi Holli! You can halve this recipe and bake it in an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch square baking pan or a 9-inch round baking pan. I’m unsure of the bake time.

  9. Thinking of making this for a friend’s birthday, do you think there’s any way to incorporate brandy or anything like that into this?
    I had originally been thinking of swapping out the water for stout in a different recipe but this recipe sounds so yummy.

  10. Made this recipe yesterday, and it came out fantastic. Only change i made was adding a couple teaspoons of maple syrup in the icing! Love your recipes, they are easy to follow and the results are almost always great. Thanks!

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