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.

slice of spice cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

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.

spice cake with cream cheese frosting in a glass baking dish

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

ingredients for spice cake

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.

spice cake batter in a glass bowl with a whisk

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!

  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.

spreading cream cheese frosting on spice cake in a glass baking dish

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! 🙂

spice cake with cream cheese frosting cut into squares in a glass baking dish

slice of spice cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

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

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
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 (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

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. 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.
  6. Adapted from my favorite carrot cake recipe.

Keywords: spice cake

149 Comments

  1. Theresa Davidson says:

    Super good! I made it with a gluten-free flour blend. I divided it into four sections and froze three (without the frosting). I made half recipes of the frosting (half icing sugar and erythritol) The thawed cakes were as good as the fresh…what I yummy recipe…a keeper!

    1. I’m so glad it worked well with gluten free flour, Theresa! Thanks for letting me know!

    2. So glad to hear the gluten free flour worked, I am planning on doing the same. I was told to add anthem gum, did you? With all the positive comments I am excited to give it a go.

  2. Can this cake be made into cupcakes? If it can, should I fill the wrappers 1/2, 2/3, or 3/4 full? And how long would you estimate the baking time to be? Thanks, Sally! This looks absolutely delicious!

    1. Fill only 2/3 full and bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  3. Hayley Morrin says:

    Do you think this recipe could be halved & baked in an 8×8 or 9inch pan? We’re a family of just 3 over here 🙂

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

  4. I am making this cake this afternoon, but would like to remove the applesauce. Could I use mashed banana in place? Or oil?

    1. I recommend mashed banana.

  5. This was delicious! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a lot because it was so easy to make but I was sooo wrong. I will be using this recipe again and again and again……

  6. Claude Trahan says:

    Best cake I have ever made, didn’t have applesauce, used grated carrots. Wonderful!

  7. This comes so close to the 1989 receipe of the Swans Down cake flour spice cake with maple cream frosting that I cannot find anywhere!! Can I omit the apple, zuccinni and carrots and just add the molasses to the mix? For the maple cream cheese frosting, could I substitute the vanilla extract for the maple extract??

    1. Hi Jan, you can certainly try to leave the apple out but I’m afraid the cake wold be on the dry side – the apples add a lot of moisture! This particular frosting recipe actually uses vanilla and not maple so you should be good with the frosting!

  8. I made this for my mother. I don’t eat sweets, but my mother has a hug sweet tooth. She is not a baker and I can’t stand to see “boxed” anything in my house. So I made it for her and she said it was the absolute best spice cake she has ever eaten!!
    Thank you

  9. Rebecca Disney says:

    I made this recipe for a second time. I split it between 2 8×8 pans so I could give one to my 94 yr old Gdad and the other to my mom. My Gdad needs less icing and mom more so it worked out well. I don’t keep apples at home and don’t drive. I on the other hand have bananas all the time so I chopped 2 small bananas in place of the shredded apple. Mom says it turned out great and moist. Thought I would toss out that extra option if you don’t have apples, carrots, or zuchinni. Plus I used a tad of maple syrup instead of molasses.
    I don’t eat cake, but I love the smell of the spice cake cooking!! This recipe is quickly becoming a favorite in my family!! Thank you

  10. The best spice cake ever! Followed recipe step by step. Although, I didn’t have ginger and my family doesn’t like nutmeg I added 1/2 teaspoon of Allspice along with cloves and cinnamon.

  11. If I wanted to make this a 3-tiered cake, could I just add 50% of the ingredients to the recipe and pour into three 9″ round cake pans?

    I’m delighted to try this! Thank you!

    1. Hi Julie! You can try that, yes.

  12. This was delicious and easy to make!!

  13. Is it possible to use this recipe to make whoppie pies ?

    1. Hi Sierra, I’m afraid this cake batter is too wet to make whoopie pies.

  14. Suzannah Kolbeck says:

    Made this today with my own cup-for-cup gluten-free flour mix.

    Instead of buying applesauce, I put two apples in a food processor and processed the hell out of them. Perfect.

    Cake was delicious. Perfect balance of spice. Baked in two 9″ pans for about 40 minutes. I was worried it would collapse as it cooled, but nope. Perfect.

    I also added a tablespoon of Greek yogurt to the frosting for a little more tang. Probably should have added more sugar to thicken the frosting, but chose not to. Really delicious flavor all the way around, and not too sweet.

  15. The most delicious spice cake recipe! My 2nd time making it, I love the addition of grated apple and all the warm and cozy fall spices! I am making the recipe into cupcakes for my nephew’s 2nd birthday cupcakes. He requested apple cupcakes 🙂

  16. Would it work if I added raisins?

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

  17. I think I will make the bundt cake version for my birthday cake as spice cake is my favorite. Any ideas on a glaze/frosting for it in my country of France with no bricks of cream cheese?

    1. What a delicious birthday cake! A drizzle of salted caramel, vanilla icing, or the maple icing used on my pumpkin donuts would be amazing!

  18. I made this cake yesterday as a two layer cake with the cream cheese frosting for the breakfast group I bake goodies for. The cake came out perfect and very moist. I used granny smith apples for the shredded apples. I also used your recipe for carrot cake with similar superb results, and I will use your red velvet cake recipe for another cake I have planned this week. Keep the great recipes coming.

  19. Will this recepie work in a 9inch circle pan? And can I leave out the applesauce?

    1. Hi, Michelle! This recipe works as two, nine inch cakes. Bake the layers for 30-34 minutes or until the centers are cooked through. The applesauce adds flavor and moisture and I would not recommend leaving it out. Hope this helps!

  20. Just made this for Christmas dessert- a huge hit!! The cake is so moist and delicious!! I substituted your Favorite Vanilla Frosting recipe for the cream cheese frosting and it was perfect. It was also delicious for breakfast the next day!!

  21. Christina Wertz says:

    Delicious, simple to make, GREAT!

  22. Made this for a potluck at work. My co-workers loved it. When I told them I don’t know how to bake, they looked at me like I’d grown a second head. The frosting was so light & fluffy, I used the leftovers as a dip for strawberries. Thanks for a great, easy recipe.

  23. Stephanie Capecchi says:

    This recipe is delish. Use all the frosting – I didn’t and regretted it! Also be very careful with the cook time, my edges got a little too brown. YUM!!!

  24. Veronica Deere says:

    Made this cake with some extra ginger and some cardamom, and freshly grated nutmeg. Also added some black walnut flavoring to the cream cheese icing, which made it taste almost like penuche. Was delicious. Will definitely make again. I think I might up the spices even more next time, or maybe grate a little ginger root into it, as I love a really spicy spice cake!

  25. Alma Galvan says:

    Absolutely love this cake. Made some with cream cheese frosting and some with whipped they’re delish. 🙂

  26. I made this cake today. My boyfriend had 3 pieces and said it was the best he ever had. It was a keeper. Definitely make it again.

  27. 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.

  28. Zoe Sibley says:

    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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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

×