This buttery soft snickerdoodle cake is swirled with cinnamon sugar and topped with a brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I decorate mine semi-naked style with mini snickerdoodle cookies on top! Recipe includes a how-to video!
A Fun Fall Birthday Cake: Snickerdoodle Cake
Spice cake always makes a cozy fall birthday cake, but if you want something a little lighter and more whimsical, try this snickerdoodle cake!
Why you’ll adore this cake:
- Based on my well-loved yellow cake recipe, but made with the reverse creaming method for a melt-in-your mouth crumb.
- Pretty cinnamon sugar ripple adds snickerdoodle flavor without being overwhelming.
- The easy brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese frosting has that quintessential snickerdoodle tang, AND isn’t too sweet.
- Adorable mini snickerdoodle cookie decoration: these are totally optional but so much fun! To make them, simply prepare a half batch of my snickerdoodle recipe (I use a whole egg) and use ¾-1 teaspoon of dough per cookie.
While I do include instructions for making this recipe in a 9×13 pan, I encourage you to try your hand at snickerdoodle cake in layer cake form! My video below will walk you through all the steps, and you can always check out my post on how to decorate a cake if you need more pointers.
What You Need
This snickerdoodle cake recipe uses just 12 ingredients for both the cake and the frosting! Let’s go over a few of them before we start baking.
- Cake flour. Cake flour is my preference, but you can substitute all-purpose if that’s all you have on hand. If you do, you will need 3 cups or 375g.
- Butter and oil. My recipe uses a blend of oil and butter to make a snickerdoodle cake that’s super soft and moist. The oil will also prevent the cake from drying out in the fridge. My preferred oil lately has been avocado oil, but you could also use vegetable or canola oil.
- Baking powder. Yes, you will need a full tablespoon of baking powder! This is not a typo.
- Buttermilk. This adds a subtle tang and some moisture as well. Make sure your buttermilk and your eggs are both at room temperature before adding them to the batter.
- Cream cheese. Make sure to use block style, full fat cream cheese. Low fat or spreadable cream cheese could make your frosting too runny.
You might notice this snickerdoodle cake is missing a classic cookie ingredient: cream of tartar! I talk more about this choice in the FAQ section below.
SAM’S TIP: Use all room temperature ingredients for the cake batter. This will make combining the ingredients much easier and will yield a more smooth, velvety cake batter.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Snickerdoodle Cake
Reverse Creaming Method
I first introduced this method with my caramel cake, and since then, I’ve been just a little obsessed with it! Not only does it yield a gorgeous, plush cake texture, but it also safeguards against over-mixing. It’s nearly impossible to over-mix a cake when using the reverse creaming method!
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, then add a tablespoon of butter and mix on low speed until incorporated.
- Continue adding the remaining butter, working one tablespoon at a time and waiting until each tablespoon is fully incorporated before adding the next. When you’re finished, the mixture will have a sandy texture.
- Stir in the oil with your mixer on low speed until everything is moistened.
- Combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl, then gradually add this to the dry ingredients with your mixer on low speed. Make sure to pause to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl + Frosting
- Divide the cake batter greased, floured, and parchment lined pans, then sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of cinnamon sugar over each pan. Use a knife to swirl the cinnamon sugar into the batter.
- Bake the cakes at 350F for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Don’t over-bake! Invert the cakes onto cooling racks after 15 minutes and let cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting – Beat the cream cheese, butter, and brown sugar until smooth and creamy, then add the cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
- Level your cakes if needed, then stack and frost as desired. I don’t use much frosting between the layers because I like to do decorative swirls on top, which adds a lot of frosting. I use the Ateco 846 tip for the swirls.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t stress too much about your cinnamon sugar swirl; it doesn’t need to be perfect! Just do your best to work it into the cake batter (not too much though–we don’t want to lose the swirl!). Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you hoped, it will still taste amazing!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use this frosting for simple decorations (like I did in the photos above), but if you want to do more intricate piping like you can with my traditional cream cheese frosting, you will need to add more sugar. You will need about one additional cup of powdered sugar to get this to a sturdy, pipeable consistency.
While I originally tried many versions of this snickerdoodle cake with cream of tartar (trying to emulate the ingredients of a classic snickerdoodle), ultimately it didn’t make the best cake base. Instead, we’ll add some buttermilk, which makes the cake appropriately tangy and super moist too! This is also why I use cream cheese in the frosting; it emulates that classic snickerdoodle tang without being overwhelmingly cream cheesy!
You could, but since this snickerdoodle cake recipe is really designed to be eaten with a fork, I’d recommend you try my snickerdoodle cupcakes instead. That recipe uses a different technique (traditional creaming method) for sturdier, perfectly handheld results.
If you are a fan of snickerdoodle cookies, please try this snickerdoodle cake and let me know what you think!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 3 ⅓ cups (375 g) cake flour
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature and cut into Tablespoon sized pieces
- ½ cup (118 ml) neutral cooking oil avocado, vegetable, or canola oil
- 1 ⅓ cup buttermilk room temperature preferred
- 3 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly grease and flour the sides and bottoms of three 8” round baking pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.3 ⅓ cups (375 g) cake flour, 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt
- Using an electric mixer on low speed, add butter one tablespoon at a time. Do not add the next tablespoon until the first has been fully incorporated. Mixture should resemble sandy, coarse crumbs.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
- Add the oil and stir on low-speed until all of the dry ingredients have been moistened.½ cup (118 ml) neutral cooking oil
- In a separate bowl (I use a large measuring cup) whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.1 ⅓ cup buttermilk, 3 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually pour milk mixture into flour mixture. Once combined, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl using a spatula. Stir once more until batter is uniform and smooth.
- Evenly divide cake batter into prepared pans and prepare cinnamon swirl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for cake swirl3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Sprinkle a heaping Tablespoon of cinnamon/sugar over each cake layer. Use a butter knife to swirl the mixture into the cake batter..
- Transfer cakes to center rack of 350F (175C) oven and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, and brown sugar and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and creamy.8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar
- Add ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt, stir until combined.1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon salt
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and creamy.3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar
- If cakes are domed or unlevel, level cakes before assembly. I do thin layers of frosting between cake layers, a semi-naked frosting around the cake, and then decorative swirls on top using an Ateco 846 or 848 tip.
All purpose flourYou may substitute 3 cups/375 grams of all purpose flour for the cake flour called for in the recipe.
Baking in different cake pans9” cake pans: bake for slightly less time, checking at 22-23 minutes.
Using only two 8” or 9” pans: Cakes will need approximately 30-35 minutes in 8” pans or approximately 25 minutes in 9” pans. (Note that pans must be deep enough – about 2”, do not fill pans more than ¾ full).
13×9 pan: Approximate bake time will be 30 minutes.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.