Super Moist Spice Cake

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.

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

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.

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

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)
  • The ultimate fall dessert

How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients.
  3. Combine wet & dry ingredients.
  4. Pour into prepared 9×13 inch cake pan.
  5. Bake.
  6. Make cream cheese frosting.
  7. Chill. 30 minutes in the refrigerator makes cutting easier.
  8. Enjoy!

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

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. All options are equally yum! 🙂

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

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.

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

More Spiced Recipes

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spice cake with cream cheese frosting in a glass baking dish

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 (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

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 shredded 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

363 Comments

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  1. Made this gluten free by subbing the flour for my blend (1/2 cup each of almond flour, sorghum flour, rice flour, tapioca starch, and chickpea flour) and it turned out AMAZING. So fluffy and delicious.

  2. Great Cake. I added a little grated carrot also and had to make my apple sauce as I did not have. I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup and added the tbsp of Molasses. I used grated fresh ginger and a little powdered ginger. Put walnuts on top and made my icing from Labne, a small amount of powdered sugar , vanilla essence and added some powdered milk as Labne is very runny when whipped. The family loved it. Great Hit and now added to our desert list. Thank you so much.

  3. Is there a way to add raisins to this?

    1. Absolutely! Add 1 cup of raisins to the cake batter.

      1. Thanks! Also, if I make it a layer cake is this enough frosting or should I plan on doubling the recipe?

  4. I brought this to Thanksgiving last year. My family is used to me bringing pies (still brought a pumpkin pie), layer cakes, cake rolls etc. Things that look a bit more fancy. This was a different type of dessert to bring – may not be as glamorous, but it was sure delicious! I highly recommend for those who want to bring something simple (but different) to the table or for those who want something that isn’t super complicated but is still delicious. This would be a great crowd pleaser.

  5. I made this cake gluten free with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free flour. So delicious. No one could tell it was GF. I made a different frosting however, and it was also delicious!

  6. Hi! Hope you’re well. I’m looking to make an apple spice cake with caramel frosting. Would be okay to use diced apples instead of shredded? Would it give the same results as far as the added moisture?

    1. Hi Jasmine, you can replace the shredded apples with 1 cup diced apples. Won’t make a huge difference.

  7. Could I use 2-3 eggs instead of 4? Would it affect the end taste/result?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rachel, some readers have reported success using 3 eggs but we haven’t tested it that way. I recommend sticking to the recipe as written for best results!

  8. I tried this for moms birthday.. Reduced sugar to 3/4 th cup.. Came out superb.. Thanks Sally.. Now I only follow your recipes for all cakes

  9. I tried this recipe as is, and it’s delicious! My family loved it to say the least. Thank you for sharing it. Now I have a birthday coming up so I wanted to make this cake layered instead but worry about the moisture and density feel it has. Does it dry up a bit when you split the cake batter and make it in two? Thank you very much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maribel, We are so happy you enjoyed this recipe! For a layer cake the bake time is shorter so it doesn’t dry out. See the recipe notes for details.

  10. I want to make this as a 3 layered cake. How would I modify the recipe?

    1. Hi Olivia, you can simply divide this cake batter between 3 9-inch cake pans. The bake time will be a little shorter than the 2 layer cake instructions in the notes.

    2. Hello Olivia,

      Did you end up making this as a three-layer cake? If so, how did it turn out? I am planning to make it for a birthday but worried it won’t hold up because of the moisture.

      1. Olivia O'Leary says:

        Hi Lauren! I did not make it because I thought it would be better suited to make during fall so I haven’t tried it yet. Good luck with the 3 layers!!

  11. Hi Sally,
    Just wondering if you think this recipe would half well, hoping to bake it in a 8×8 square pan…

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Naomi, That should be fine, though a 9×9 square pan would be best. It will rise quite tall in the 8×8 inch pan.

  12. I have made this several times and always comes out great!
    First time I didn’t have applesauce, apples or apple pie filling so I reduced the sugar and blended peach pie filling. The cake was gone in 10 minutes!
    Second time I used applesauce and apple pie filling mashed in cupcakes. Made 3 dozen cupcakes that disappeared in minutes.
    Grandkids love them.

  13. Jessica Sanchez says:

    OMG This cake was so moist and delicious. Highly recommend all the ingredients suggested. Next time around I’m doing raisins and walnuts for another. Yummmy

  14. Can you substitute apple sauce with something else?

    1. Definitely! Pumpkin puree or mashed bananas work very well.

  15. This was so delicious! We made two 9” round cakes and put just one layer of cream cheese frosting in between – I didn’t want to frosting to overwhelm the flavor of the cake. The consistency is perfect, super moist. One of the spices is a bit overpowering and bothers the roof of my mouth – not sure if it’s the ginger or cloves? (And I’m Indian, so “too spicy” is saying something. :)) Not sure, but it’s still really good and I would make it again!

  16. How many applies did you use and what type? Going to make my for my daughter’s Birthday this weekend. First time not a box cake.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathy, Start with one large apple and measure after you shred it, you want one cup of shredded apple. You can use any variety here!

  17. Hi Sally! First, thank you for all the great recipes! Regarding this recipe I was wondering if I can use chesscake felling ?

  18. Can you substitute coconut oil easily for the other oil options? That’s what I have on hand and was hoping it wouldn’t make too much of a flavor profile difference…

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carrie, Melted coconut oil works!

  19. Hi Sally! Can I add in walnuts and raisins?
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely! Add a total of 1 cup of raisins and chopped walnuts to the cake batter.

  20. Hey Sally! Love your recipes, your chewy chocolate chip cookies are a major hit in my circle! I was just wondering if it’s possible and you had any suggestions for making this into a chocolate spice cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rebecca, We haven’t tested a chocolate version and it would take additional recipe testing for us to give you a confident answer. You can definitely add about 1 cup of chocolate chips to this to the cake without making any other changes if you wish. Let us know if you try anything!

  21. Oh wow, this cake is amazing! I made it gluten-free for my daughter’s 10th birthday party and was told by one of her friends that this was the best spice cake she had ever eaten. Thank you Sally for another fantastic recipe!

  22. Hi! I made this for my family and it was a hit. My husband said it was the best cake he’s ever had! My friend requested cupcakes and I’m wondering if this recipe would transfer well?

    1. Just kidding – just saw your note right at the top of the recipe 🙂 Definitely making these!

  23. Can I use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil?

    1. Hi Kim, melted (and slightly cooled) coconut oil works. Same amount.

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