Super Moist Spice Cake

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

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!

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

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

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!

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

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!

Cheers to the bride and groom, cheers to Fall cakes!

More Fall cakes and cupcakes:


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


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 (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


  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.


  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
How to make super moist spice cake on


  1. After salivating over the pictures, I almost did a cartwheel when I saw the ingredients! YAS Sally, like many of your recipes the ingredients are on-hand already. Can’t wait to make this ASAP, since the cupcakes were to die for

  2. This spice cake looks to die for. I really love doing pumpkin spice cakes during the fall, and was wondering what sort of changes I would need to make to this recipe to add pumpkin puree into the wet ingredients, without making the mix too runny?

    1. Monica – I’ve added pumpkin to recipes before with success. For this recipe, maybe cut the oil and applesauce by 1/2 and add 1 cup pumpkin?

      Sally feel free to correct me!

      Good luck and happy baking 😀

      1. That’s a great suggestion OR I would cut out all the applesauce and use pumpkin instead. (Keep oil the same amount.)

  3. So fun, Sally! I love pumpkin, but it’s fun to mix it up in fall with apple, which seems to have been overtaken a bit by pumpkin 😉 I bet it would be fun to test this cake with different apples…I really love Ambrosia! Or Honeycrisp, or Jazz…

  4. Oooh, you get to wear a pretty dress this weekend! Congrats to your friend, and enjoy this time. I miss the period where all my friends were getting married! Weddings are such fun.
    This spice cake is incredible. Grated apple is so genius! I’ve got to try it!

  5. Awww I love weddings, congrats to your friend!! <3 I can't believe you and Kevin had to transport her dress too! No pressure, right? 😉 This spice cake looks glorious. I know it might taste amazing without frosting, BUT I'm a frosting girl for sure!!! 🙂

  6. Umm, I typed in your address and went straight to search bar and typed spice cake. Started reading and then you mentioned the date. Ummmm, yeah, spice cake + me this weekend = meant to be.  

    Love your work. Thanks for what you do. 

  7. Y-E-S! Spice cake over chocolate cake any day – regardless of the time of year – but ESPECIALLY in fall. Sally, this looks like absolute perfection! Looks like the perfect thing to bake this weekend while I (im)patiently wait for baby boy to make his appearance 😉

    1. Not yet, but the bake time will be about 20-22 minutes. I’ve made a similar recipe for carrot cake cupcakes, and they took 20-22 mins.

  8. I always did love a good spicy cake and this one sounds perfect.

    I make a point of buying as few ready made products as possible, in fact most weeks I just buy basic staples and nothing that comes in a tin or jar. It is the way I like to live, it is also true that I live in small town in the mountains and one has to make ones own, or go without!

    Anyway, a question if I may. Applesauce. Not sure what you mean by this. Would home made apple purée be a good substitute please?

      1. I made the cake yesterday and it was fantastic. Great flavours and nice and moist.

        Just wanted to let you know that I did use apple purée. I made a pound of purée, simply simmering the chopped apples with a little lemon juice, water and a knob of butter. I added no sugar. I used cooking apples so they would break up better.

        I used part of the above for the cake and froze the rest in teflon muffin moulds. I just put 4oz of the purée in each mould. They are easy to pop out afterwards and store in a sealed bag. 

  9. I was literally sitting here just fretting over what to make for the State Fair of Texas baking competition next weekend! This looks divine! Can’t wait to see pictures of your friend’s wedding! Have a wonderful Fall weekend! 🙂

  10. I have been craving and searching for the perfect fall dessert worth the calories. This is the one! Was your applesauce sweetened or unsweetened? Thank-you!

  11. I love that you added a little apple or carrot in with this spice cake. I don’t know which I’d prefer, because I LOVE both apple and carrot cake. Spice cake is one of my favourite cakes too, and I’ve been dying to make this gorgeous spice cupcakes you recently posted. Now I’m not sure whether to make cupcakes or cake… I can’t believe it’s now officially Fall -> there’s so much seasonal baking to get done 🙂

  12. This looks really amazing! I do prefer my baked goods on the not-so-sweet side, how much sugar do you think I can cut out to lower the sweetness but not mess up the ‘balance’ of the recipe/ingredients?

  13. I love everything that you make. Thanks for your great tips and recipes.
    unfortunately in my country we do not have applesauce, what could be the substitute for it? or if there is a recipe for it.
    Thanks dear.

  14. Oh my gosh! Another one to add to my list! We have a family reunion, I might just make this for it! Hope you have fun at the wedding – looking forward to seeing some pics 🙂

  15. Oh my! Spice cake is my dad’s favorite, he goes on and on about his mother’s spice cake. I wish I had paid attention when my grandmother was alive, she was an amazing baker and cook. He’s coming for a visit the first weekend of October, I was going to make your Ombre Spice Cupcakes, but now I am torn! Do you think this would do OK as a layer cake?
    Have fun at the wedding, can’t wait to see pictures, your dress sounds gorgeous!

  16. How funny! I made a spice cake (pumpkin spice) last night because 1. I had cream cheese frosting in the fridge that I needed to be used and 2. I had a crappy day and wanted to de-stress and 3. bring in a treat for my friends at work who also had a crappy day. I come and look at your site after work and I find this! Great minds, huh?

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally