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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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 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

336 Comments

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  1. heather (delicious not gorgeous) says:

    while i disagree with your who needs chocolate?! outburst, i can definitely get behind this spice cake. esp because there’s apples and cream cheese frosting!

  2. 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

    1. That’s why I really love this cake recipe– such simple staple ingredients.

  3. Charlotte @ What Charlotte Baked says:

    This looks so fall I could die. I’m so excited for autumn and Christmas baking! Isn’t it just the best time of year?

    1. My favorite, yes <3

  4. 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.)

  5. 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…

    1. Yes! I tested it with both honeycrisp and pink lady apples. My two favorites!

  6. 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!

  7. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says:

    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!!! 🙂

    1. I was mildly freaking out the whole time with the dress in the car! HA!

  8. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    I’m obsessed with anything pumpkin, but I LOVE Fall spices!  I could put cinnamon on everything, but it feels more appropriate in the Fall with the cooler weather.  Have so much fun at your friends wedding!

  9. 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. 

    1. That is too funny!! I hope you try it.

      1. I did! Iced last night, and finishing it this afternoon. I’ll post it and add your # on IG. 

  10. Leah @ Grain Changer says:

    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. Thinking of you!!

  11. This looks so freaking tasty. Wondering if you have done them as cupcakes? 
    Bake time? 

    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.

  12. 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. There’s a little difference between the two: https://www.leaf.tv/articles/the-difference-in-apple-puree-applesauce/ 🙂

      1. Thanks, great explanation. I will be giving it a try soon, as I am harvesting my apples at the moment.

        Thanks again,

        Lincoln @ LincsFlavours

      2. Lincoln @ LincsFlavours says:

        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. 

  13. Catherine Smith says:

    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! 🙂

    1. Ahhh I hope you make this for it!

  14. Going to cozy up by the fireplace in my flannel sweats with a cup of hot cider and a slice of this cake this weekend! 😀 Can’t wait!

    1. Sounds like the PERFECT weekend!

  15. Sharon Atcheson says:

    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!

    1. Unsweetened. Let me add that in. 🙂

  16. Favorite time of year! Can’t wait to try this one! <3 

  17. 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 🙂

    1. I feel so behind. I want to bake EVERYTHING right now!! I can’t keep up haha!

  18. 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?

    1. I’d say 1 and 1/4 cups is a good place to reduce down to.

      1. Thank you! And as I will attempt to control myself by halving the recipe, do you have cooking time suggestions for an 8×8?

  19. Ran out to my local orchard this morning and grabbed 5 pounds of Honeycrisps !!

    1. My all-time favorite apple. Can’t miss!

      1. The best apples!!

  20. I love this recipe! Can’t wait to make this over the weekend. Will go great with pumpkin spiced coffee for fall!!

    1. Yes yes yes!

  21. 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.

    1. Applesauce is so simple! Here’s a wonderful recipe for it: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/applesauce/

  22. Could I use a whisk to mix the frosting?

    1. It may take a little work and arm muscles, but you could yes!

  23. 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 🙂

    1. Thanks Teija!

  24. This spice cake looks irresistible…even though in NZ we are in the full swing of Spring, I find no reason to deprive myself of all these wonderful Fall recipes…so this is being added to my weekend baking list 😉

    1. I hope you try it– and love it! Despite the season where you are!

  25. Sara @ Last Night's Feast says:

    So glad fall baking season is here. This looks perfect

    https://lastnightsfeast.wordpress.com/

  26. Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness says:

    THIS is why it’s my favourite time of the year!! Gingerbread like cake? Count me in!

  27. Michele Mallory-Davidson says:

    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!

    1. Michele Mallory-Davidson says:

      Sorry, somehow I posted twice! I don’t see how to delete my duplicate!

    2. This is a wonderful layer cake– I tried it when testing the recipe! See my recipe note 🙂

      1. Michele Mallory-Davidson says:

        Thank you for your reply, I must have gotten all excited to comment and missed your note!

  28. 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?

    1. Too funny– but also sorry about your crappy day! Baking is the best medicine.

  29. Best cake ever!!

  30. Congrats to your friend! And the cake sounds incredibly yummy!

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