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
  • 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

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, 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.

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

151 comments

  1. I made this cake for a potluck in the fall and it was a huge hit! Getting ready to make it again this morning for Christmas– thanks so much for the round cake times, that was just what I was planning to do this time and I appreciate the adjustments for time. Cannot wait to eat this again!!

  2. I have made several recipes from your site, mostly at first because they came up first in Google (kudos to your seo person lol) but now because I know everything you make is delish. This is in the oven smelling great 🙂

  3. My son has been bugging me to make a spice cake for a while now. Since, he is extremely lactose intolerant I was happy to find a recepie that didn’t call for any dairy products. I will admit I was skeptical at first since cakes made from scratch have never been good IMO. This cake was AMAZING!!! I did add more cinnamon then called for after tasting the raw batter (we adore cinnamon) and omitted the molasses as well as the grated apple. My son has requested this cake for his birthday next week!!

  4. Does the cake turnout if you double the recipe?

  5. I made this cake for my wife’s second thirtieth birthday. I baked the cake yesterday, covered it and frosted it this morning. Man was it good! moist! I can’t wait to try your spice cupcakes!

  6. I made this cake with avocado oil ….turned out fantastic ! 
    I would like to use coconut oil this time . 

    Should I use the same amount ? 

    Any suggestions would be helpful 

    Thks 

  7. Hello! Can I replace all the spices with Pumpkin Spice and would I use the same amount 3.5 teaspoons?

  8. Hi, can I replace applesauce with another ingredients 

  9. Hello I just ate a piece of spice cake I made this morning and found it delicious! Thank you very much!

  10. Well…I just made a version using mashed butternut squash instead of applesauce and grated carrot instead of apples (one large-ish carrot = one cup grated). Also about 1/2 a cup grated coconut. Added a few dashes cayenne because it accentuates the spices, I think. Out of vanilla, but I think it’ll be okay. It’s in the oven now. I might make a brown butter frosting if it looks like it needs something. Thanks for the recipe, it’s a great jumping-off point!

  11. could i substitute apple butter for the apple sauce, for a deeper apple flavor
    ?

  12. This was sooo great! Just made it and since I live in Colorado Springs (elevation 6,000), I wanted to let my fellow high altitude peeps know that I cut the baking powder and soda in half and increased the temp of the oven to 360 to adjust for altitude and it was great! Getting a permanent card in my recipe book right now.

  13. Sally, I noticed above someone asked if they could use pumpkin pie spice and they also asked if they would still use the 3 1/2 Teaspoons however, there was no answer to the question. Also someone asked if they could double the recipe and if it would work fine. Again, no answer was given. I’ve got the same questions. I’m baking a 9 x 13 so not sure if I’d need one recipe or two??
    You have been my “go to person” for about 3 years now. You’re fantastic. Thanks!

  14. I see above where one recipe will do the 9 x 13. Sorry I didn’t see it before. Still have the question about the spices.

    Thanks!

  15. AH-MAZING.

    I’m pretty new to baking on a regular basis and found this recipe two weeks ago. Rave reviews from my husband, his coworkers, friends, and myself. 😉 I added cinnamon to the frosting because cinnamon + me = true love forever. I will definitely be making this again!

  16. My Half-Husband (my fiance) mentioned his mom used to make Spice Cake all the time. And that he hadn’t had it in about 10 or more years.

    So I found this recipe and added the Molasses and added 1.5 tsp of Gingerbread spice to it (yes,I know there are spices in the recipe) and thought this would add more ooomph to the spice.

    He LOVED it! Made my own Cream Cheese frosting and even his VERY PICKY BOX CAKE EATING BOYS loved it! 😀

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It’s a keeper!

  17. Hi Sally!

    I kinda feel like we’re old friends because I’ve been learning form your recipes for years (you’re awesome).
    And now my question: I wonder would it work to swap out the all-purpose flour for cake flour in this recipe (or any spice-cake sort of recipe for that matter)? I notice you do use the cake flour in your spice cupcakes, in which, as you point out, you prefer that lighter texture. But would it work for a cake, or do those heavy ingredients (applesauce, grated apples) require a more robust flour in a cake?
    Or, more broadly, is there any other way to achieve that lightness you like in your spice cupcakes in this spice cake? Or are there reasons why that’s not quite possible or desirable?

    (I live in the Netherlands and it’s my partner’s birthday in a few weeks. Usually at Dutch birthdays they serve light, airy tarts. But the stubborn American in me will always think that a birthday requires a layer cake. And this is the one my partner wants, along with a salted caramel buttercream! But if there’s a way I can lighten it up a bit I think it will be even better received by the lucky Dutchies I’ll be serving. 🙂 )

    • Hi Sarah! What a nice message, thank you for the comment! 🙂

      This is a dense cake– and you really can’t achieve the lighter texture unless you change up the wet ingredients somehow. Feel free to play around with it as you see fit, but this recipe (as written) does require the heavier texture of all-purpose flour. I hope this helps!

  18. Hi Sally,

    Could I use 6 inch round pans instead of 9 inch? If you could how long and what temp?

    • You’ll have a 3 or 4 layer cake with 6 inch pans. Same oven temp, but I’m unsure of the bake time. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Enjoy!

  19. Hi Sally, so looking Forward to baking this… as soon as we get some fall weather in Munich!
    I have a question. Is there any ingredient I can Substitute the oil with?
    Thanks so much in advance 🙂

    • Oil is heavily recommended for this spice cake– at least a little bit. You can sub half of it with applesauce though! 🙂

  20. I just wanted to say that you are the baker I aspire to be!!  I’m more savory but with your recipes I’m getting rave reviews on my baking.  Have you ever created anything that was no sugar and VERY low carbs.  It’s my Dad’s way of eating for health and weight. Looking forward to trying the recipes I found on here today.  Have a great HOLIDAY season!!!

  21. Hi there! 
    Can you tell me why the 4 eggs are optional and the difference it will make in the cake? It seems like it would make a pretty big difference! 

  22. This recipe made my house smell heavenly! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. You said options keep this thing exciting, so I took the liberty to add things! I used shredded carrot instead of shredded apple and pureed pumpkin instead applesauce. Then I added in chopped up walnuts and rasins.

  23. Just made a 1/2 recipe of this in an 8×8 pan – it’s so delicious!! I had a new spice mix I wanted to road test (KAF Speculaas) so I used that in place of the listed spices. Love the moistness & soft texture. 

    This was so easy to pull together that I actually mixed it up while I was in the middle of making dinner. Perfect “just bc it’s Thursday and we need cake” cake. 

    (Also just for ref my oven did vary as you said – @350F in an 8×8 mine took just shy of 30min.)

  24. Hi Sally, can I just leave the cake on the cooling rack till morning?

  25. Hi Sally,
    I want to make a spiced pineapple layer cake for my birthday and was tossing up between your hummingbird recipe and this one – do you think I could sub the applesauce and apples in this recipe for 1 cup drained crushed pineapple and 1 cup well drained diced pineapple? Or could I just keep the applesauce and sub the grated apple with drained crushed pineapple since that would probably overtake the flavour of the applesauce anyway?

    Love your recipes, they always turn out perfectly!

    Thanks,
    Edwina  

    • Hi Edwina! You can try to sub in crushed and diced pineapple, but I haven’t tested this recipe with those subs– and I’m a little unsure of the results. Why not try the hummingbird cake? It’s wonderfully spiced and already has pineapple 🙂

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