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.
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. ♥ ♥
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!
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.
This cake reminds me of the recent banana cake recipe. Only with extra extra Fall spice flavor instead of banana flavor. 🙂
Cheers to the bride and groom, cheers to Fall cakes!
More Fall cakes and cupcakes:
- Cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake
- Moist gingerbread spice snack cake
- Pumpkin cake cheesecake
- Glazed apple bundt cake
- Spiced pumpkin cupcakes with marshmallow frosting
Super Moist Spice Cake
- 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
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 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 grated 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 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.
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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