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!

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!

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

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

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!

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

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!

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

More Fall cakes and cupcakes:

Super Moist Spice Cake


  • 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
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated apple (or grated carrot/zucchini)

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


  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, molasses if using, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract 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.

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

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

How to make super moist spice cake on
How to make super moist spice cake on


  1. I LOVE spice cake, and my mouth is watering right now!!! 🙂

  2. Can’t wait to try this!! Any suggestions for an alternate icing? Looks delicious, but my family isn’t to fond of cream cheese 🙁

  3. Hi Sally, I was wondering would part of your spice cake recipe work on boxed cake mix? I’m thinking of how there’s cakes that you can make your own just by tweeking here and there-have you ever tried? I have cake boxes on hand for those unexpected days, and I have two spice cakes, I may just try it.

    • Hi Dee! I’m not sure I understand the question. I’m sorry! Do you mean combining this recipe with a box mix? I don’t recommend it if that’s what you are asking.

  4. Hi Sally,
    Do you think in a cake recipe such as this, I can swap the pan out from a 9×13 to two 8×8 glass Pyrex?  And if so, what would you recommend for a time to begin checking for doneness?
    I see you have a note on two 9″ cake pans but I’m guessing 8×8 would have longer bake time.
    I know the batter can be divided for cupcakes, but since I’m baking for just my husband and myself, I’d like to keep one small cake and give another one, in it’s own pan, to my two dear neighbors who are elderly/homebound.
    I’m taking a guess at 35-40 minutes but I don’t want to try it until I get your opinion.
    Thank you Sally.

    • Hi Brenda– yes, definitely. The cake will be thick so the bake time will be long for sure. I’d go with at least 35 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  5. I made this cake over the weekend and it was as wonderful as the pictures promised!!!! Thanks once again for the super recipe!!!


  6. Per usual this looks completely perfect! I will be making some this weekend and freezing slices for later 🙂

  7. Wow!  I made this for a family dinner tonight and everyone absolutely raved. It was so, so good. And super easy too

  8. I was thinking about making this for my Sister’s Birthday this weekend, but she is Lactose Intolerant. What frosting could I swap out for the cream cheese frosting?

    • I’m not sure I have any recipe options for it, but what about a quick search on the web for a dairy free frosting? I bet there are lots of wonderful options.

  9. Can this be made in a bundt pan? I feel like it would be so pretty. 

  10. Made this last night. Amazing!!

  11. Made this cake last night for dessert – it’s delicious! So light and moist and it was a hit with everyone from my kids to the grandparents.

  12. Hi Sally,
    I’m making this cake today and would like to know what you think about the addition of semi sweet chocolate chips and/or cocoa powder.
    I’m really craving both chocolate and autumn spices right now, big time?
    any opinion or other recipe you can suggest?

    • I’d add chocolate chips– not cocoa powder. I’d add about 1 cup to the cake. I bet it will be SO GOOD!

      • I will do that next time.
        I baked it as written for Canadian Thanksgiving yesterday.
        It was a hit! I did use a bundt pan. cake was very moist.
        My cousin kept all the left overs and would not give me one piece back! LOL
        Thanks Sally!

  13. I made this cake for my dad’s birthday cake. He has always been a huge spice cake fan. I am not, but this recipe might change that. I was skeptical about the moistness because it didn’t look that moist. To be fair,  I made it the night before and frosted it the following morning. Then I stuck it in the fridge until dinner. When I served it, wow! It was really moist and yummy too. Highly recommend.

  14. Hi Sally! I’m making this spice cake as a layer cake with cream cheese frosting in the middle and on the top, but the sides naked. It’s for a school cake walk and I’d like to top it with some decoration that hints at the apple inside – but the fresh apple will just brown! Do you have any decorating suggestions to jazz up the top attractively?

  15. I ran across this today and cant wait to make this!! But, I usually use applesauce to cut back on oil, but i see you are using both. I dont like to use alot of oil in my baking or sugar, as we dont like things too sweet. Prob will cut the sugar back like i normally do, but how to I cut back the oil? Can i cut it back and just add even more applesauce? Would that work?

    • For best taste and texture, I do not recommend it. But feel free to test with how much oil vs applesauce your palette enjoys. 🙂

  16. Hello, Sally! So happy I stumbled upon your baking blog. I can have some fun here!

    I have a friend who lives alone and will turn 70 in December. He has fond memories of his mother’s spice cake while growing up. After searching for a good recipe to send to him in celebration of his big day, I came across yours and I think it’s THE ONE! 🙂 I do have a question, though: I will need to ship it to California. I will use two day shipping to do so, as I’ve successfully done for breads, bars, and cookies sent his way. However, I am concerned about following safe food practices with this recipe because of the cream cheese frosting. Your answer to this question might help: How long can this cake sit out on a counter safely without refrigeration? That will help me know if it can survive the two day trip or if I need to consider of something else. Help!
    (His mother always topped it with caramel frosting, something I’m not familiar with but it could be the better option under the circumstances. If you think it is, I’d be most appreciative if you could suggest one for it.)

    Thanks in advance and I look forward to discovering more amazing recipes at your website. (I think I’ll start with your “Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had.” SUPER YUM sounding description and then, all those rave reviews! 🙂

    • Hi Karen! I feel like cream cheese frosting is just not a great idea for shipping. It definitely shouldn’t be out of the refrigerator for that long– and may end up looking like a royal mess when he opens the sweet package!

      I do have a recipe for caramel frosting– though it is salted caramel frosting. I suggest reducing the salt for a less salty topping. Here is my recipe for salted caramel frosting 🙂

  17. just thought I’d drop you a big thank you for posting this recipe. I’ve made it a few times now….never the same way twice. It’s very versatile and forgiving. Though I’ve changed it a bit each time I haven’t once iced it. The latest version was with 100% whole wheat flour…..even I was surprised it turned out so well. I wasn’t sure of the age of the baking powder or soda, as I made it in my daughters kitchen. She also only stocks olive oil and coconut oil. (hippies sheesh) so I used coconut oil. added about 1/4 tsp baking powder and soda. All she had was alspice and ginger. I threw in equal amounts of the called for spice….then added some more for good measure. Used two grated apples and 1 1/2 cups apple sauce. I used only about 3 1/2 eggs…they were farm fresh sooooo had to be cleaned a bit of blood spots. But hear it is the next day and I’m sitting here on the guest bed picking up the crumbs off the comforter, enjoying a slice ….a rather big slice with my coffee waiting for everyone to get out of bed.

    I should add that I’ve used this recipe for apple upside down cake. After arranging the cooked apples on a pan I’ve poured over 1/2 the batter and then used the other 1/2 in a smaller pan for freezer destination. I’ve added flaked coconut, leftover roasted yam (smushed to a paste added into the apple sauce)… . there was one time I was staring at a small pile of leftover bacon bits. But I didn’t add them. The cake is so much better the next day. Though it rarely lasts past that. Whenever I make it, it’s usually my breakfast …either as an upside down version with ice cream or just plain whipping cream poured over the whole mess. I’ve made it now in three different kitchens when I’ve visited my kids. I just wish the coffee makers ive had to deal with were as forgiving as this cake in the morning.

    • I’m over the moon to read this. I’m so happy you love this cake and I’m dying to try it as an apple upside down cake sometime!

  18. I just wanted to say thanks for the recipe. I was trying to doctor my yellow cake mix into a spice cake mix and this helped me out. I had the all spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg but it didn’t seem right so added a bit of molasses which brought it closer but not quite right. I saw cloves on your recipe and it was the ingredient I needed. I added the molasses before I saw it in your recipe but when I saw+ it just confirmed what I already thought that the molasses added that extra special something to the cake. I will try to shredded apple in the future it sounds good. Thank again.

  19. This recipe looks great, would it work in a bundt pan?

  20. Can the grated apple/zucchini be omitted or substituted for more applesauce?

  21. I LOVE spice cake. Since the recipe makes twelve servings, I can definitely share it with my mom and my sister. 🙂

  22. Happy Thanksgiving Sally! I’m definitely going to make this for dessert tonight, but I was wondering: is there anything I should do to make sure the cake is moist and soft? For some reason, whenever I make a cake the flavors are wonderful, but it turns out a bit hard. Should I be beating the mixture more, maybe?

  23. Sally, the cake was delicious and super moist. Half was eaten up in a matter of minutes. Thank you!

  24. Hi Sally, LOVE the blog and your first book. I live in the UK and we don’t get applesauce here,what can I substitute?

  25. I usually puree carrots when I make carrot or spice cakes because I find the texture of chopped or grated carrots to be unpleasant. Do you think substituting the grated carrot in this recipe with pureed carrot would add to much moisture to the batter?

  26. Sally, if I wanted to add raisins to this cake, would you recommend I omit the grated apple, or should I use both? Also, what amount of raisins would you recommend I add? 

    Thanks 🙂

  27. Hi sally,
    Thank you for this recipe, what can i replace apple suace with or can i make homemade apple sauce, our stores dont have it . Thank you

  28. can you use coconut oil instead of the vegetable oil?

  29. Hey Sally,
    I am a huge fan of yours. I am just a beginner in Baking. I love to try out this recipe, but I would like to know the recipe for applesauce.


  30. How long would you bake this if you made a bundt cake? 

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