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

318 Comments

  1. I’m going to make this for our thanksgiving get together! Your recipes never let me down! Also do you think a pumpkin spice buttercream frosting would go good with this?

  2. So I made a test version of this cake a few weeks ago as part of a “pie-caken” I’m planning to make for Thanksgiving, where you bake a pie inside of a cake. It turned out great, but the finished product is a little dark in color which made it kind of hard to see the pie. Is there anything I could do to lighten up the color of the cake? I’m thinking maybe I could use light brown sugar instead of dark and I didn’t use the molasses anyway. Is there anything else that could be causing the dark color of the cake?

  3. Hi Sally,

    So, I am going to make your spice cake into a 2 layer cake for Thanksgiving and frost it with a maple buttercream. However, I want to fill it with something pumpkin – maybe a pumpkin ganache. What do you recommend? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sandy! Sounds delicious. I’ve never tried making pumpkin ganache before. My suggestion would be a pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting. You can add pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese frosting– about 1/2 teaspoon.

  4. I absolutely love this spice cake recipe. It leaves you with a delicious, moist cake AND it is simple to make. Perfect for a light dessert after a big Thankgiving meal.
    I totally recommend this recipe.

  5. Ugh-I ruined the cake. I ground my own cloves in a mortar and pestle and it tastes like I added a bowl of hot pepper flakes. It came out so extremely hot that I had to toss it!

  6. Love this recipe! Thank you so much for posting it. I’ve added an obscene amount of orange zest and some cardamom and am loving it.

  7. This cake is DELICIOUS! Made this on a whim for a friend’s birthday after finding out that their mom had made them spice cake for their birthday growing up and it did not disappoint!

  8. Hi Sally, I love this recipe so much, I tried it last night in a bundt cake pan. It took about 45 minutes to bake perfectly.

  9. I baked this cake & love it! To hurry it along, I used 2 pre-packed cups of Delmonte diced pears/peaches(total of nearly 1 cup), drained in place of apple. Added the molasses. Baked in two 9” pans. Frosted per cream cheese recipe.
    Finished off with a good sprinkle of Tone’s Salted Caramel (from Sam’s Club.

  10. Sally I love the recipe. Unfortunately the cake had hard “spice granules” after baking. Very small but if you bit down on one it was bitter with a strong aftertaste. My mother thinks it’s because I divided the spices and added them to the wet and dry ingredients. Any idea what may have caused the “spice pebbles” in the cake. Thank you.

  11. Lovely recipe and my cakes ready out of oven….just one clarification…can I cling wrap and refrigerate the cake overnite and frost the same tmrw

  12. I’m planning to make this cake for my mom’s birthday this weekend! I was wondering if it’s a good cake to stack and if it bake time will be longer or shorter in 9in round cake tins. Also, do you have any good, simple ideas to decorate a spice with? Excited to make this cake!

  13. This is the 2nd time we’ve made this in a month. It’s so amazing! First time, we used a shredded carrot, and the 2nd time, we added a yellow zucchini. And used freshly grated nutmeg. Love spice cake and this one is one of the best we’ve eaten!

  14. What a great cake. Because I didn’t have enough carrot, apple or zucchini to make a cup, I used 3/4 cup of grated zucchini and 1/4 grated carrot. Turned out to be one pretty cake with the orange streaks in it.

  15. 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. 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.

      1. You will find many gluten free flour blends already have some sort of gum in them. If you are going to prepare your own gf flour blends you can add xanthan gum or try psyllium husk which works the same but doesn’t have the gut issues that gums are suspected of having.

  16. 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!

  17. 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 🙂

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

  19. This is not the sort of cake I would normally go for at all, but somehow it seemed perfect for a beautiful grey chill day so I tried it…. SOOO glad I did, it is truly delicious!! (oh wait .. the luscious cream cheese icing enticed me a bit too of course!!)
    For anyone wondering – I made exactly half the recipe in an 8×8 glass pyrex and it cooked perfectly, about 40 minutes
    So quick and easy to whip up too, I can see it becoming a regular! , thanks once again Sally 🙂

  20. Hi Sally!
    This recipe looks delicious, I’m planning on making it for a birthday party.
    Is it possible to make this a 2 layered cake? or is it too moist to be a layered cake?

    Thanks!
    -Mack

    1. Hi Mack! This batter works wonderfully as a 2 layer cake. Divide between two 9-inch cake pans. See recipe note.

  21. 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……

  22. 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!

      1. Instead of the vanilla, can I use the maple extract as I want to get that maple frosting taste I am looking for, and would the amount be the same like the vanilla?

      2. Hi Jan! I recommend using 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon maple extract. Taste the frosting, then add more maple extract as desired.

  23. Will do, after I lose the three pounds I found on my scale. I know I will be going through this cake like it is my last meal!!

  24. 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

  25. 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

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