Super Moist Spice Cake

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

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! sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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! sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

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! sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

More Fall cakes and cupcakes:

Super Moist Spice Cake

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 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.

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.

Recipe Notes:

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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Icing Spatula | Kitchenaid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Baking Dish

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How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com
How to make super moist spice cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

206 Comments

All 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. 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?

  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!

  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!

Reviews

  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. 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!

  4. 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

Questions

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

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

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