Snickerdoodle Cake

Using my vanilla cake recipe as the base, you can create an absolutely mouthwatering snickerdoodle cake filled with buttery cinnamon swirls and topped with creamy brown sugar cinnamon buttercream frosting. This cinnamon cake goes down in history as one of my best cake masterpieces. Everyone raved about it!

snickerdoodle cake

Earlier this month, I asked the Sally’s Baking Addiction Facebook group community if they wanted a snickerdoodle cake recipe this fall season. The response was an overwhelming yes. In fact, the general response was HECK YES HECK YES HEEEEEEEECK YES.

Your wish is my cake command.

This Snickerdoodle Cake Is:

 

snickerdoodle layer cake

3 Parts to Snickerdoodle Cake

  • Buttery Vanilla Cake
  • Pockets of Cinnamon Swirls
  • Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream

Snickerdoodle Cake Power Ingredients

The ingredient list below looks long. Thankfully, the ingredients are mostly repeated in each section. If you’ve made or read about my best vanilla cake recipe before, you know that I use a few “power ingredients” that promise the perfect cake texture:

  1. Butter: Use room temperature butter for the cake and frosting. Remember that room temperature butter is cooler than you think. Use melted butter for the cinnamon swirl.
  2. Cake Flour: If you want a soft bakery-style cake, cake flour is the secret. The cake will be heavy if you use all-purpose flour. If needed, you can use a cake flour substitute.
  3. Eggs & 2 additional egg whites: 3 whole eggs provide structure, moisture, and richness. 2 extra egg whites keep the cake light and airy.
  4. Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Use both– remember why? We’ll use enough baking powder to give the cake height without leaving a bitter aftertaste. Baking soda allows us to use less baking powder.
  5. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is an acidic ingredient and baking soda requires an acid to work. Plus, buttermilk yields an EXTRA moist cake crumb. See recipe note about an alternative.
  6. Brown Sugar: We’ll use brown sugar in the cinnamon swirl and again in the frosting. You can use light brown or dark brown sugar, but I recommend dark brown sugar for bolder flavor.
  7. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is the main flavor, so make sure you’re using a quality product. I adore McCormick and Penzeys brands. (Not sponsored, just a super fan!)

snickerdoodle cake slice

How to Make Snickerdoodle Cake

  1. Make the cake batter: Use the basic creaming method. If desired, see my vanilla cake recipe for more detail. I reduced the sugar in the cake batter since we’re adding a cinnamon sugar swirl.
  2. Make the cinnamon swirl: Combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Gently mix in melted butter. Drop small spoonfuls over each unbaked cake layer, then swirl with a knife. The cinnamon swirl will slightly sink as the cake bakes, but that’s ok. When you eat the cake, the bits of cinnamon swirl are sticky, chewy, and massively flavorful.
  3. Bake & cool the cakes: Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, then cool completely before assembling and frosting.
  4. Make the brown sugar cinnamon frosting: More on that next!
  5. Decorate the cake: I love a semi-naked cake decoration for this snickerdoodle cake.
  6. Chill before serving: For beautiful slices, chill the decorated cake for at least 30-60 minutes prior to serving. This tightens up the layers, so slicing is much neater and easier.

cinnamon swirl cake batter

This cake batter is moderately thick and fits perfectly in 3 9-inch cake pans.

cinnamon swirl cake batter

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream

Simply put, this frosting is nothing short of a dream. Brown sugar isn’t a common ingredient in snickerdoodle cookies, but I really wanted to impart its flavor into the cake. Brown sugar weighed down the cake crumb, so I added some to the frosting. Thus, brown sugar cinnamon buttercream was born. (There’s no need for any other frosting flavor again, ever.)

You know what I love about snickerdoodle cookies? Their creamy texture and slightly tangy flavor– both make snickerdoodles uniquely delicious! Cream of tartar supplies those favorable components, but it didn’t really fit into this cake. So I compromised and added cream cheese to the buttercream frosting. Now we have a wonderfully tangy/sweet flavor, plus an ultra creamy texture.

To avoid a gritty texture from the brown sugar, cream it with the butter and cream cheese until relatively smooth. (Once you add the remaining ingredients, you won’t be able to detect its texture anyway.) If you find the buttercream too sweet, add extra salt. If you crave more flavor, add more cinnamon and/or vanilla extract. This brown sugar cinnamon buttercream would be outstanding with banana layer cake or carrot cake, too.

spreading brown sugar cinnamon buttercream on cake

Look at all those cinnamon swirl specks on the bottom of a cake layer! ↑ ↑

brown sugar cinnamon buttercream

Semi-Naked Cake Style

Remember when I taught you how to make a vanilla naked cake? I recreated the look for this snickerdoodle cake. Perfect as a rustic chic autumn cake, no? If you need a visual for this semi-naked look (pretty much a crumb coat), see my naked cake video tutorial.

If you skip the piping detail, there’s enough frosting to cover the whole cake with a generous layer of frosting. 🙂

Need to freeze the cake layers? See how to freeze cakes for detailed instructions.

snickerdoodle cake

snickerdoodle cake

 

Love Cinnamon? More Recipes for You:

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snickerdoodle cake

Snickerdoodle Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 servings
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Using my vanilla cake recipe as the base, create an absolutely mouthwatering snickerdoodle cake filled with buttery cinnamon swirls and topped with creamy brown sugar cinnamon buttercream frosting. Review recipe notes before beginning.


Ingredients

  • 3 and 2/3 cups (420g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs + 2 additional egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, Tbsp!)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*

Cinnamon Swirl

  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (41g) or cake flour (38g)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 60g) unsalted butter, melted

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (2.5 sticks; 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, room temperature and sliced into 4 pieces*
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon*
  • 5 and 1/2 cups (660g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • optional for garnish: snickerdoodle cookies

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the 3 eggs, 2 egg whites, and vanilla extract on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. (Mixture will look curdled as a result of the egg liquid and solid butter combining.) Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. With the mixer still running on low speed, slowly pour in the buttermilk then mix just until combined. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. If desired, weigh them with a kitchen scale to ensure accuracy. Set aside for a few minutes as you make the cinnamon swirl.
  5. For the cinnamon swirl: With a fork, mix the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together until combined. Pour the melted butter on top and mix just until combined. Use immediately in the cake batter (next step) because the longer it sits out, the harder it will get as a result of the butter solidifying.
  6. Drop small spoonfuls of the cinnamon swirl on each of the unbaked cakes. Use a knife to gently swirl the spoonfuls into the batter. Some pieces will remain as chunks (that’s fine!) and some will swirl into the batter.
  7. Bake for around 23-26 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  8. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Switch the mixer up to medium-high speed and add the cream cheese one piece at a time, mixing until each has combined before adding the next. Once the cream cheese is combined, add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and add the cinnamon, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed and beat for 30 seconds, then turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat until completely combined and creamy. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting seems too thin– I usually add another 1/4 cup (30g) of confectioners’ sugar. You can add more heavy cream if frosting seems too thick or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I usually add another pinch of salt.) If you crave extra flavor, add a little more cinnamon and/or vanilla extract.
  9. Level the cakes & add the crumb coat: Using a large serrated knife, slice the domes off the cooled cakes (a semi-thin layer) to create a flat surface. Discard domes (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Evenly spread about 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting on top. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly spread another 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting on top. Top with the third cake layer. I decorated my snickerdoodle cake with a crumb coat, which makes it a semi-naked style cake. To recreate this, spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake (save extra frosting for the top in the next step). An icing spatula and bench scraper are helpful for creating this look. (If you need a visual, see my Naked Cake video tutorial.) Chill the crumb coated cake uncovered in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes to help set the crumb coat.
  10. Spread a little extra frosting on top of the cake and use any leftover frosting to pipe detail around the edges, if desired. I used Wilton 8B piping tip. Garnish with snickerdoodles if desired.
  11. Refrigerate cake for at least 30-60 minutes before slicing and serving. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  12. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Let the frosting sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 20 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving. See how to freeze cakes for detailed instructions.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Egg Separator | 9-inch Cake Pans | Kitchen ScaleWilton 8B Piping Tip | Piping Bags (disposable or reusable) | Cake TurntableLarge Icing Spatula | Bench Scraper
  3. Cupcakes: Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Drop small spoonfuls of cinnamon swirl onto each, then gently swirl with a knife. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 19-21 minutes. Yields about 3 dozen. Or try my snickerdoodle cupcakes recipe.
  4. 9×13 Inch Cake: This recipe yields too much batter for a 9×13 inch pan. Instead, you can use my white cake batter and swirl in the cinnamon swirl. (See those recipe notes for baking instructions for a quarter sheet pan.) I recommend cutting this frosting recipe in half so you don’t have too much leftover.
  5. Cake Flour: To prevent a dry-tasting cake, make sure you are spooning and leveling the flour or weighing it. For the best results, I strongly recommend cake flour. You can find it in the baking aisle and I have many more recipes using it. If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make a homemade cake flour substitute.
  6. Eggs: 3 whole eggs provide structure, moisture, and richness. 2 extra egg whites keep the cake light and airy. I don’t recommend using 4 whole eggs; stick to the 3 egg & 2 egg white combination. Here are recipes using leftover egg yolks.
  7. Buttermilk: If needed, you can use whole milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk.
  8. Cinnamon: Yes, the cinnamon swirl and frosting both call for 1 Tablespoon (not teaspoon) of ground cinnamon. We need that flavor to stand out!
  9. Brown Sugar: You can use light brown or dark brown sugar, but I recommend dark brown sugar for bolder flavor.
  10. Cream Cheese: Use block cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. Slice the block into four 2-ounce pieces. If desired, you can skip the cream cheese and add another 1/4 cup (1/2 stick; 60g) softened unsalted butter instead.
  11. Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.

Keywords: snickerdoodle cookies, cake, cinnamon

78 Comments

    1. Hi Sherrie! No, there is too much batter for a 2 layer cake. You can bake 2 cakes at the same time, keep the extra batter covered lightly at room temperature, then bake the 3rd layer when the cake pan is ready.

  1. Aaahh a snickerdoodle cake!!!! This looks amazing……..can I use your snickerdoodle cupcakes recipe to create a 6-inch cake?

  2. Can it be made in a 9 x 13 inch pan? You normally leave this type of instruction, and since you did not mention this pan size, I assume there would be a problem.

    1. Hi Joan! This recipe yields too much batter for a 9×13 inch pan. Instead, you can use my white cake batter and swirl in the cinnamon swirl. I would cut the frosting recipe in half just so you don’t have too much leftover.

  3. Oh my goodness! This cake looks delicious! I’m not a fan of cream cheese. Can I add an extra stick of butter to make the frosting?

  4. I cannot wait to try this! I have to try your burnt sugar caramel cake first! You have the best cake recipes and I’m so happy to refer people to your amazing blog! Keep up the awesome work, Sally! Thank you for such wonderful recipes!

  5. I am making this ASAP!!!!!!!! I am thinking of adding some kind of crumb filling in the middle. What do you think!? Any suggestions!?

  6. I use mascarpone cheese,instead of cream cheese,with great results.Not a fan of cream cheese either.Mascarpone does not have the tangy flavor.

  7. Hi Sally! This looks amazing! I was wondering if I could use boxed white cake and then add the cinnamon swirl. would this work? Thanks!

  8. Hi! Love your recipes!
    Was wondering about a gluten free version? We adapted your strawberry cake to be gluten free but this recipe seemed a little more specific.
    Thanks!

    PS – I thought you and your your cookie recipe was not given enough air time on GMA a couple of weeks ago

    1. Hi Rhonda! You can definitely try using your favorite gluten free flour here. Thank you for watching my GMA segment. It was so much fun and I do wish I had a few more seconds to chat about the cookies. They’re so good!

  9. This recipe looks like it would produce a much more tender cake than the snickerdoodle cupcake recipe, using cake flour and egg white. Could the recipe be cut to half? Perhaps 2 eggs and 1 white?

    1. Hi Cheryl, you can definitely try cutting this recipe in half to make cupcakes or a smaller cake. I would try 2 eggs + 1 egg white.

      1. Thanks, we really love the 6 inch 3 layer cakes for our adult family of 3. I have used quite a few of your cupcake recipes and they were delicious. Maybe I should try cake flour in those.

  10. Sally, this cake looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I LOVE snickerdoodles, so this cake totally appeals to me! I have got to make this soon! 🙂

  11. Now this looks ahhhmazing and I’ve got to give it a go, I’ve done your snickerdoodle cookies recipe before and absolutely loved it so can’t wait to try this one! The question is, how can I make this into 6 inch pans? I’ve become a bit obsessed with 6 inch cakes thanks to you 🙂

  12. This cake looks scrumptious. My sister’s birthday is Halloween and this will be the cake this year. Thank you Sally for your fabulous cakes.

  13. I forgot to level my cakes and just flipped them upside down to make the top flat however now my icing is t wanting to stay in my layers. Is my that I didn’t level the cakes or that my icing might be to thin or both? Any suggestions on how fix? Thanks!

    1. Hi Brandy – it could be either or both depending on just how lopsided your cake is! If the icing seems to thin you can add more powdered sugar next time.

  14. I would imagine you’ve been asked this many a time but any tips to making the cream cheese icing more stable if you only have access to the soft spread type as we do here in the UK? I’ve given up making it sadly..

    1. Hi Alexis! I can’t say for sure since I only have access to the products here, but you shouldn’t have issues with this frosting recipe as it is mostly butter based.

  15. This cake is delicious and the layers are very moist and airy! The frosting tastes great but I had a lot of trouble frosting the cake. The layers were sliding a lot while I was icing. I also had a lot of trouble getting it to look straight and not lop sighted from the layers sliding. I double checked if I added the right amount of the ingredients and I did add the correct amount. I was wondering if I could leave out the milk/heavy cream or the 1/4 cup of butter to make it a little stiffer?

    1. Hi Zoe! Were the layers completely cool? I find cold cakes are much easier to work with, so you can always refrigerate the cake layers prior to assembling a layer cake. Feel free to play around with the frosting recipe too. You can leave out the milk/cream if needed. If it’s not too late, a little confectioners’ sugar will help thicken the frosting back up.

      1. The layers were cool completely. I should have thought of refrigerating them! I will have to do that next time! Thank you so much!

  16. Hi Sally…. I made this cake for our anniversary…. it was a big hit .. everybody loved it …. followed your instructions to the tee … THANKS❤️

  17. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful cake! I was planning to make your carrot cake recipe for Thanksgiving, but, I’m definitely going to have to make this one instead. I can’t wait to try it!

  18. Hi Sally,
    I have been following you for 2 years now. Always kept baking the same ol’stuff. Up until very recently did not have the time to attempt one of your wonderful cakes, cookies etc.

    Well the time was right and FINALLY was able to “bake with Sally.” I made your Snickerdoodle cake and icing. The batter was the creamiest softest batter I have yet to come across! The icing omg – a thesaurus would be required to describe the soft, silky texture along with the vanilla, cinnamy sweet aroma that came floating from the bowl.
    Anything I was unsure of I found the answer for on your site. Sally, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and end result was phenoninal.
    This average baker thanks you as I made my 1st ever triple layer cake.
    2- This average baker purchased the necessary #8 tip and icing bag etc. to decorate her 1st also naked cake!!
    THANK YOU

    1. I absolutely love reading this, Linda! Thank you so much for your kind feedback- I hope you are proud of yourself for tackling this cake!! Thrilled it was a hit for you 🙂

    1. Hi Hilda! I can’t see why not. I’m unsure of the exact bake time. Make sure you use a large bundt pan with at least 10-12 cups capacity. The larger the better.

  19. This looks amazing! Can’t wait for the weekend to make it!

    I live in Dubai and it’s very hard to come across block cream cheese – how (if at all) can I substitute it for cream cheese spread?

    1. Hi Danielle! You can try one of two things– you can use what you have as this frosting is mostly butter based. Or you can leave out the cream cheese and use butter– see recipe note.

  20. Thank you for responding! I ended up letting the cake sit in the fridge to firm up and it turned out pretty good! The cake itself was amazing such a great texture and flavor!

  21. This recipe looks fantastic and I am planning on making it later this month. One question I have is I like to weigh my flour, so if I make my own cake flour with All purpose flour and corn starch. What is the weight of corn starch that is equivalent to make the recipe above?

  22. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly! My sons said the frosting reminded them of the butter from Texas Roadhouse – delicious!
    The only thing I will do differently next time is use dark brown sugar rather than the light. 🙂

    Thank you, Sally! ❤️

  23. I made this cake and frosted it for tomorrow. Now I don’t know if I should refrigerate it or leave it out! Yikes! There is no way to cover it without messing up my icing job!

    1. Hi Betty, if needed, you can leave it uncovered. I recommend storing cakes in a cake carrier. They’re SO helpful with not only transporting, but storing without messing up the frosting. See tip #10 here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/cake-baking-tips/

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