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

Print

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

318 Comments

  1. I just tried making this in a bundt pan and it came out extremely moist and fell into pieces once I finally got it out of the pan. The flavor is good but it looks hideous and I don’t even know how I would even get icing to spread on it withought turning into a crumby mess

  2. Yet another amazing recipe from Sally! I made this using Bob’s red mill all purpose gluten free flour and used flaxseed eggs instead of regular eggs and it still turned out amazing! I did make it as cupcakes and they baked to perfection. Thank you for the great recipe!

  3. What kind of apple would you recommend to use? I have honey crisp apples in my fridge, but wasn’t sure if something that sweet would be good for a spice cake. Thanks!

    1. No, I do not have a low sugar spice cake. Any “healthier” recipes are located here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/healthy-recipes/

      1. Thank you. I made the cake last night and used splenda brown sugar instead the regular brown and it turned out great!

  4. Hi, what is the weight of 1 cup grated zucchini? I’m using zucchini instead of Apple. Is it lightly or tightly packed as the weights vary.. trying out this recipe, can’t wait! thanks!

  5. I love this recipe! I can´t wait to try it… but I want to use it for a 3 layer naked cake. Will it work? Should I double the recipe?

  6. First, I have a friend who does not like ginger. Second, I have a gingerbread trifold recipe, using gingerbread as the cake part, black bing cherrys and black bing cherry juice, some cinnamon, brown sugar and cornstarch, heated and combined into a thickens sauce as the fruit part, lemon whipped cream layers and only one layer of sliced pears. I Was thinking I could substitute a spice cake for the gingerbread, and leave out the ginger spice. I am also thinking of adding mascapome cheese to the creamy layers.
    Another thought is : butter cream on top of the spice cake with a Carmel ganache like over the.
    Top, with a cooked apple and thickened sauce in the middle.
    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. Hi Yvonne! That sounds delicious. You can prepare this cake and leave out the ginger. A mascarpone cheese filling sounds delicious, as well as cooked apple. You could even use my recipe for apple hand pie filling: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/07/03/apple-hand-pies/
      Have fun with it!

  7. This spice cake sounds delicious but could I please clarify the amount of baking powder and soda, not suggesting the recipe as is doesn’t work. I have read in a few places that 1/4 teasp of baking soda is used per cup and 1 teasp baking powder per cup of flour. I’m trying to understand recipes more and what works as I’ve had a few disappointments recently. Thanks

  8. Does the grated apple give a texture to the cake?
    Also my sister requested that I incorporate fruit into the cake somehow, such as by putting it inside the center of a two layer cake (like cutting out the center of the bottom circle and filling it with fruit). How do you think this would work taste-wise? I was thinking of using blueberries, sliced strawberries, and possibly raspberries. I was also thinking I would use some cream cheese frosting to combine them before putting them in the middle so they wouldn’t all loosely spill out when cutting into the cake. What is your general opinion and/or suggestion as an experienced baker?

    1. Hi Kyra! Yes, the grated apple leaves a little texture in the cake. Not much though– it mostly just gives the cake a lot of moisture. You can play around with assembling the cake with fruit or berries, but I haven’t tried anything like that. I have a pinata cake recipe where I cut out the center and added candies if you want to look to that for inspiration.

  9. Cardamom is another spice which works well with Ginger and Cinamon. I use this mix for spice cakes and breakfast porridge. Cardamom can be perfumed and strong so add it to your own taste.

  10. Hey Sally,
    Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. I can imagine the smell already and I am very excited to give it a try. But can you please give us an apple sauce recipe? I found many different recipes and I just got confused.
    Many thanks!

  11. My fiancee loves spice cake. It is absolute favorite. I am thinking of using this as my wedding cake. Would this work in my tiers?

  12. What about spice icing. Duncan Hines use to have a delicious spice icing. They discontinued it for some reason. Spice cakes were my son’s birthday cake each year. They loved them. Now I do cream cheese, but would like to have spice again.

  13. Howdy. I have tried many of your recipes and they never disappoint. I’m searching for some layering techniques that led me back to this page. I’m curious if you think these flavors and this recipe will work together or not. I’m thinking of vanilla cake with layer of salted caramel frosting, this spice cake as middle layer, salted caramel frosting, vanilla cake, then a layer of actual salted caramel topped and covered with same caramel frosting. Too much? Perfect combo? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sindi, This is 100% personal preference! If I were to make what you described I would probably do it without the extra salted caramel on top since the caramel frosting is plenty sweet.

    1. Hi Christina! Grated apple adds so much moisture to the cake, so I don’t suggest leaving it out. You could sub grated carrot or zucchini in its place though! Cranberries would be a wonderful addition on top of the grated apple.

  14. Hello. I have 3 of the 4 spices, but no ground ginger! However, I do have a bottle of liquid pumpkin pie spice extract that has all four in it. Can I use this and if so, how much?

    1. I’m sure you can, but without having the product myself and testing it out– I’m not positive of the exact amount. Does the extract give any equivalents on the bottle? How much pumpkin pie spice (dry) it replaces? Teaspoon for teaspoon?

  15. Just took the cake out of the oven, it smells AMAZING! Hope it tastes good, because my brain goofed – Grabbed the nutmeg thinking it was the cinnamon, and added 1-1/2 t. of nutmeg! Tried to fish out most of it, so we’ll see! I also only used 3 eggs, because I can’t tolerate a lot of eggs well. A three egg cake is my limit. It only took 35 mins. in my thinner aluminum pan. Can’t wait for it to cool!

  16. Absolutely fantastic and bulletproof recipe! I’m definitely a novice baker and this cake came out really well both times I made it (in spite of getting some things slightly wrong). I made the batter in 2 cake pans and, as a matter of preference, only frosted the middle and top of the cakes because I don’t like a lot of icing. If your taste is similar, I would recommend cutting the frosting recipe in half. This cake was a huge hit with my coworkers and I will certainly be making it again!

  17. This was such a great cake! I made it for a coworker’s birthday. Everybody loved it. Birthday Girl was happy to try a spice cake from scratch and I was happy to deliver! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. Super easy to bake!

    Melissa

  18. Hey Sally! I’m taking this cake to a thanksgiving potluck tonight (it’s Thanksgiving in Canada!) and was wondering if you’d recommend adding any nuts to the topping and if so, which nuts? Thanks!

  19. I made the cake for Family Dinner last night after my sister in law asked me to ‘pick up a spice cake.’ I followed the recipe exactly and set the timer for 45 minutes (recipe says 45-50 minutes). It was definitely overbaked, I so wish I had started checking at 35-38 minutes. Still good but would have been lots better if it wasn’t overcooked.

    I also didn’t use all the frosting, which was a good call. I think it would have been overwhelming. And now I have some lovely frosting to use on something else!!

    Hopefully this helps someone else make their cake perfect!

    1. Thank you for sharing this!! You saved my cake. I was reading through the comments while my cake was in the oven, saw yours and decided to check as it was at 35 minutes. Already done! So again, thanks!!

    2. Yes, I had the same experience. My cake was completely finished at 30min. I used a glass 9×13 Pyrex pan. I’m not sure I have ever made a cake in a 9×13 pan that took longer than 35 min. Perhaps my apples were a less moist variety or something. The cake looks springy and moist and both toothpick and knife came out clean as a whistle at 30 min. Always keep a close eye on cake recipes the first time baking it.

  20. Just popped this cake into the oven to bring to work this morning! We just canned a bunch of Apple pie filling so I used a jar with this cake to turn it into an upsidedown apple spice cake! Can’t wait to see how it comes out!

  21. Hello! I am wanting to make this cake for my niece’s birthday, however she is allergic to egg whites. I was wondering if there were ways to substitute for the egg whites if I didn’t put them into the cake? If I put the yolks in but left out the whites, would that drastically change the cake in any way? I have read that you can substitute applesauce for eggs in some recipes, however this recipe already calls for applesauce and I’m not sure how adding extra applesauce would change the texture of the cake. Is there anything I can do so that I can still make the cake but leave out the whites? Thank you!

    1. Hi Kaylin! I’ve never tried the cake this way, but I would try leaving out the egg whites and replacing with 1/4 cup of applesauce (on top of the 1 cup called for in the recipe) or even pumpkin puree.

    1. Hi Annabelle! Unfrotunately, I’m not the best person to ask as I have zero experience baking at higher altitudes. Here is a handy chart that readers have found helpful in the past: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  22. Thank you very much for sharing this fantastic recipe! I feel like I got a secret family recipe or something. I made this for my child’s first birthday and skipped the frosting. I served it with whipped cream. He ate every last bite of his piece… and so did everyone else! It didn’t last until morning!

  23. This is a recipe that I’ve been searching for. I did a little alteration, I made it into an upside down cake. In a cast iron skillet, melted a stick of butter, added 4/4 cup of brown sugar, and let it simmer until it came to Carmel consistency. Added sliced apples, sprinkled with chopped pecans, then poured your spice cake batter on. When it finished baking, flipped the pan over onto a platter. It looked beautiful and my family went crazy about it. I called it Carmel Apple upside down spice cake. It’s now a holiday tradition! Wonderful cake recipe!

      1. Hey there Sally, thank you for your reply. I did forget to mention that I omitted the apples in the cake batter. Hope you enjoy as much as my family and friends did

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