This spice cake is incredibly moist and flavorful! The cake is light with a tender crumb and is topped with the most luscious cream cheese frosting. This simple recipe requires no mixer to make.
There are certain desserts I only eat in the fall and winter, and this incredible spice cake is one of them. In fact, this cake is one of my favorite Christmas dessert recipes. It’s those warm, autumn spice like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger that go perfectly with a hot cup of mulled apple cider. I love topping this cake with my favorite satiny-smooth cream cheese frosting and a dash of ground cinnamon.
Bake this simple yet delectable cake whenever you’ve got a craving for a perfect winter treat!
What is spice cake made of?
As the name suggests, spice cake has a combination of spices that give this cake tons of flavor. Here are a few of the primary ingredients:
- Spices. I use a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. If you don’t like nutmeg or cloves you can leave one of them out, but trust me, this mix of spices gives the most wonderful flavor.
- Sugar. This recipe calls for a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar. I love the balance of flavors from both sugars together.
- Oil, applesauce, and buttermilk. They all make this spice cake extra moist so it stays tender for days. If you skip the applesauce, use buttermilk instead (total of 1 cup), but the applesauce makes a difference in this recipe so I highly recommend using it.
How to make spice cake
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
- Mix the eggs and sugars together. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined for about a minute.
- Add the wet ingredients. Add oil to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk until combined. Then, add applesauce, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and mix as little as possible, just until combined and smooth.
- Bake. Pour the batter into a prepared 8×8-inch pan and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350°F/180°C. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
Make the cream cheese frosting
The cream cheese frosting is optional, but holy cow, it tastes amazing – I highly recommend (and it’s easy to make)!
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and fluffy. If you want a thicker frosting, add 1/2 cup more powdered sugar.
- Frost the cake when it’s cool.
Tips for making spice cake
-Don’t overmix the batter. Overmixing can make baked good tough and dense by developing excess gluten. To avoid this, just mix the ingredients until everything is incorporating. I also like to use a rubber spatula, which is more gentle on the cake batter.
-Wait for the cake to cool before frosting. If you frost the cake before it’s cool, the cream cheese icing will melt.
-Use full-fat cream cheese for the frosting. The fat helps stabilize the frosting and it makes it extra thick and creamy.
Can I freeze spice cake?
Yes, but I do recommend making the cream cheese frosting fresh. To freeze the cake, double wrap it in plastic wrap. The cake will stay fresh for up to 2 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight or let it thaw on the counter.
More delicious snack cakes:
- Chocolate Nutella Cake: Decadent and rich, made with milk chocolate chunks and Nutella.
- My Favorite Carrot Cake: Not overly sweet carrot cake topped with fluffy cream cheese frosting.
- Maple Nut Cake: Topped with pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Plum Ginger Crumb Cake: Fresh plum and ginger cake topped with with crunchy coconut streusel.
- Peanut Butter Banana Bread: Made with cream peanut butter and yummy, ripe bananas.
This wonderful, delicious spice cake is made with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with fluffy, satiny-smooth cream cheese frosting.
- 1 and 1/4 cups (170g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola or another flavorless oil
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 oz. (115g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick/55g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups (175g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease an 8×8-inch pan.
- In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined for about a minute. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add applesauce, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix as little as possible, just until combined and smooth.
- Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
- Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and fluffy. If you want a thicker frosting, add 1/2 cup more powdered sugar. Frost cake with the frosting.
- Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cake is best served at room temperature.
For a 9×13-inch cake, double the recipe (both cake and frosting) and bake for 45-50 minutes. The cake stays moist and flavorful for a few days, so you can make it 1-2 days ahead.