Moist, dense, and rich homemade spice cake is topped with a generous layer of tangy cream cheese frosting. Filled with comforting fall spices, this cake is perfect for cool fall days.
Chocolate? Who needs it. Spice is easily one of the best cake flavors around. It’s 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.
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. It has tight crumbs and a moist texture. More flavor in 1 bite than in an entire cupcake—we’re talking gingerbread-level flavor.
This Spice Cake Is:
- Dense like banana cake
- Cozy + comforting
- Perfectly spiced
- Soft + moist
- Easy to make
- Simple to transport—no layers!
- Topped with smooth + silky cream cheese frosting
- A great make ahead recipe (it’s even tastier on day 2)
Plus, you can see that I used this very batter as the starting point for my favorite apple cake. Such a great base recipe!
Spice Cake Ingredients
Spice cake requires very simple ingredients—nothing fancy, all items you likely have in your pantry already.
- Flour: All-purpose flour serves as the base. We use sturdy all-purpose flour instead of cake flour in this recipe because of the thick, wet batter.
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda: These ingredients help the cake rise.
- Salt + Vanilla Extract: Both add flavor. Try using homemade vanilla extract!
- Fall Spices + Molasses: For mega spice flavor we use lots of cozy spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and 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.
- Oil: Oil guarantees a moist crumb.
- Brown Sugar: We use only brown sugar in this spice cake recipe because you know that’s where the best flavor lies. I prefer dark brown sugar for even deeper spice flavor.
- Applesauce: Applesauce adds flavor and moisture.
- Eggs: Eggs provide structure and moisture.
- Apple: 1 cup of shredded apple adds so much flavor and moisture– it’s what makes this spice cake truly the best I’ve ever tasted. You can also use shredded zucchini or carrot too.
Overview: How to Make Spice Cake
This is a very simply cake to prepare—it actually reminds me of pumpkin cake in terms of preparation, ease, taste, and texture. You don’t even need your mixer!
- Mix the dry ingredients.
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Combine wet & dry ingredients.
- Pour into prepared 9×13 inch cake pan.
- Make cream cheese frosting.
- Chill. 30 minutes in the refrigerator makes cutting easier.
Cream Cheese Frosting
No frosting necessary as this spice cake is delicious on its own. But we all know tangy cream cheese frosting is spice cake’s favorite friend so let’s whip up a batch of silky cream cheese frosting and pile it on!
Mix it up and try brown butter cream cheese frosting used on banana layer cake or cinnamon cream cheese frosting used on banana cupcakes. You could even garnish each slice with whipped cream. All options are equally yum! 🙂
Other Size Cakes
This spice cake is incredibly versatile– one of the many things I love about it! There’s enough batter for a layer cake, Bundt cake, or cupcakes.
- 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 fits wonderfully into a Bundt pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time, so use a toothpick to test for doneness.
- Cupcakes: This recipe makes about 24 standard size cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
More Spiced Recipes
- Banana Cake
- Carrot Cake
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Harvest Spice Bread
- Apple Cider Donuts (baked not fried)
- Chai Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake
- Apple Crumb Cake
Homemade and super moist spice cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Such an easy recipe packed with TONS of flavor!
- 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) 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 (240ml) 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 shredded apple (or shredded 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
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch pan. I always use this glass pan.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- 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 shredded apple until combined.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools: Icing Spatula | Whisk | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Baking Dish
- Layer Cake: I’ve made this as a two layer cake before. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. Divide the batter between the two 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.
- Cupcakes: This cake batter yields about 24 standard size cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Adapted from my favorite carrot cake recipe.
Keywords: spice cake