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:

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Super Moist Spice Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 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.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: Icing Spatula | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Baking Dish
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Adapted from my favorite carrot cake recipe.

Keywords: spice cake

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

258 Comments

  1. I’m going to make this for our thanksgiving get together! Your recipes never let me down! Also do you think a pumpkin spice buttercream frosting would go good with this?

  2. So I made a test version of this cake a few weeks ago as part of a “pie-caken” I’m planning to make for Thanksgiving, where you bake a pie inside of a cake. It turned out great, but the finished product is a little dark in color which made it kind of hard to see the pie. Is there anything I could do to lighten up the color of the cake? I’m thinking maybe I could use light brown sugar instead of dark and I didn’t use the molasses anyway. Is there anything else that could be causing the dark color of the cake?

  3. Hi Sally,

    So, I am going to make your spice cake into a 2 layer cake for Thanksgiving and frost it with a maple buttercream. However, I want to fill it with something pumpkin – maybe a pumpkin ganache. What do you recommend? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sandy! Sounds delicious. I’ve never tried making pumpkin ganache before. My suggestion would be a pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting. You can add pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese frosting– about 1/2 teaspoon.

  4. I absolutely love this spice cake recipe. It leaves you with a delicious, moist cake AND it is simple to make. Perfect for a light dessert after a big Thankgiving meal.
    I totally recommend this recipe.

  5. Ugh-I ruined the cake. I ground my own cloves in a mortar and pestle and it tastes like I added a bowl of hot pepper flakes. It came out so extremely hot that I had to toss it!

  6. Love this recipe! Thank you so much for posting it. I’ve added an obscene amount of orange zest and some cardamom and am loving it.

  7. This cake is DELICIOUS! Made this on a whim for a friend’s birthday after finding out that their mom had made them spice cake for their birthday growing up and it did not disappoint!

  8. I baked this cake & love it! To hurry it along, I used 2 pre-packed cups of Delmonte diced pears/peaches(total of nearly 1 cup), drained in place of apple. Added the molasses. Baked in two 9” pans. Frosted per cream cheese recipe.
    Finished off with a good sprinkle of Tone’s Salted Caramel (from Sam’s Club.

  9. Sally I love the recipe. Unfortunately the cake had hard “spice granules” after baking. Very small but if you bit down on one it was bitter with a strong aftertaste. My mother thinks it’s because I divided the spices and added them to the wet and dry ingredients. Any idea what may have caused the “spice pebbles” in the cake. Thank you.

  10. Lovely recipe and my cakes ready out of oven….just one clarification…can I cling wrap and refrigerate the cake overnite and frost the same tmrw

  11. I’m planning to make this cake for my mom’s birthday this weekend! I was wondering if it’s a good cake to stack and if it bake time will be longer or shorter in 9in round cake tins. Also, do you have any good, simple ideas to decorate a spice with? Excited to make this cake!

  12. This is the 2nd time we’ve made this in a month. It’s so amazing! First time, we used a shredded carrot, and the 2nd time, we added a yellow zucchini. And used freshly grated nutmeg. Love spice cake and this one is one of the best we’ve eaten!

  13. What a great cake. Because I didn’t have enough carrot, apple or zucchini to make a cup, I used 3/4 cup of grated zucchini and 1/4 grated carrot. Turned out to be one pretty cake with the orange streaks in it.

  14. Super good! I made it with a gluten-free flour blend. I divided it into four sections and froze three (without the frosting). I made half recipes of the frosting (half icing sugar and erythritol) The thawed cakes were as good as the fresh…what I yummy recipe…a keeper!

    1. So glad to hear the gluten free flour worked, I am planning on doing the same. I was told to add anthem gum, did you? With all the positive comments I am excited to give it a go.

      1. You will find many gluten free flour blends already have some sort of gum in them. If you are going to prepare your own gf flour blends you can add xanthan gum or try psyllium husk which works the same but doesn’t have the gut issues that gums are suspected of having.

  15. Can this cake be made into cupcakes? If it can, should I fill the wrappers 1/2, 2/3, or 3/4 full? And how long would you estimate the baking time to be? Thanks, Sally! This looks absolutely delicious!

  16. Do you think this recipe could be halved & baked in an 8×8 or 9inch pan? We’re a family of just 3 over here 🙂

  17. I am making this cake this afternoon, but would like to remove the applesauce. Could I use mashed banana in place? Or oil?

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