My super simple Spice Cake Recipe is full of fall spices and covered with a silky cream cheese frosting. It comes together in just one hour in ONE BOWL! Recipe includes a how-to video!
A New and Improved Spice Cake Recipe
My super moist and incredibly flavorful spice cake recipe is a favorite around here. It’s rich with all the cozy flavors of the season, and it’s also super easy to make! I love the simplicity of tossing everything in a 9×13 pan and frosting it right in the pan once it’s baked and cooled. Easy and delicious!
I think what differentiates this cake from other spiced cakes like my pumpkin cake is (besides the lack of pumpkin) cloves; this spice provides a more cozy flavor than your traditional pumpkin spice. It’s an autumn dessert with a subtle reminder that Winter’s right around the corner!
Some of you may recognize this cake, and that’s because it’s not totally new to the blog. I personally loved the original version of this recipe, but a number of commenters had issues with the cake sinking in on itself. I want everyone to have success, so I went back to the drawing board and modified the recipe to be essentially foolproof and sink-proof (in fact, if you make this as a layer cake you will have to level the top as it domes!). This version maintains all the flavors and texture of the original, but without sinking (and I like this one even more than the original!).
What You Need
While many versions of this cake include apple sauce, this is a spice cake recipe without applesauce. Instead, you’ll need:
- Dark brown sugar. The strong molasses flavor in dark brown sugar really amps up the flavor of this cake and makes it taste a bit festive.
- Spices. You can’t have spice cake without spices! I use cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, and nutmeg.
- Melted butter. Just like in my yellow cake recipe, we’ll be using melted butter today. This method of adding melted butter to the dry ingredients and sugar (rather than beating softened butter and sugar together first, which would be traditional creaming) is essentially the reverse creaming method, and makes mixing super easy (and the cake very buttery!). You’ll want to let your butter cool until it’s no longer warm to the touch.
- Oil. We’ll also be using oil in addition to butter to make sure the spice cake is nice and moist.
- Sour cream. I’ve been loving this powerhouse ingredient in my cake recipes recently, it makes the cake tender, moist, and so flavorful (without imparting any sour flavor!). You could substitute this with plain, full-fat Greek yogurt.
What we’re not using: As mentioned, my spice cake recipe doesn’t use applesauce. While we do benefit from the molasses flavor of the dark brown sugar, we also don’t use straight molasses. Doing so would make this cake less of a spice one and more of a gingerbread, which misses the mark on the complex flavors I was aiming for here.
SAM’S TIP: This spice cake recipe can be made in a 13×9 pan OR as a layer cake. In fact, there’s enough batter you could even make this a three layer cake; just reduce the baking time!
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 Spice Cake
- Combine your sugars and your dry ingredients in a large bowl, then stir in the melted butter and oil. The mixture will seem a bit stiff and dry, but try to make sure all of the dry ingredients have been moistened — coating the flour with butter and oil here is important for a moist cake!
- Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Add the sour cream and milk and mix until combined.
- Pour the batter into greased and floured pan(s) and bake according to your pan size/type. To ensure the spice cake doesn’t stick, I like to line the bottom with a round of parchment paper before adding the batter, too.
- Let the cakes cool in their pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely (if making a sheet cake, just let it cool in the pan).
- Frost and enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: I use the reverse creaming technique (or a method that’s akin to it, anyway) for my spice cake recipe, which ultimately makes this a one bowl recipe. This method results in a tighter, plush crumb that’s still super soft and melt-in-your mouth with buttery undertones.
Frequently Asked Questions
They are really similar but not exactly the same. This cake has more spices than my carrot cake and carrot cake cupcakes (naturally!) and includes a few other ingredients to make up for the moisture carrots would normally provide. Chances are, if you like that cake, you’ll like this one too!
Yes! This recipe will make about 30 cupcakes. You will want to bake them for 17-18 minutes.
I personally recommend my cream cheese frosting, though I use a scoop less of powdered sugar in order to make the frosting slightly more silky and spreadable. Brown butter frosting or even my whipped cream frosting would be other great choices (and I’ve been itching to try my new caramel frosting on it, too!)
If you were a big fan of my original spice cake recipe–don’t fret! I linked the original in the recipe card below.
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
- 2 ⅔ cups (335 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) dark brown sugar firmly packed
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon allspice
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 12 Tablespoons (177 g) unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup (118 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 g) sour cream (8 oz)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
Cream Cheese Icing
- 8 oz (225 g) cream cheese softened (use brick-style, not the kind sold in tubs)
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter softened
- 3 ½ cups (440 g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and grease a baking pan with baking spray (you may use a 13×9 pan or two 9” round or 8” round pans, if using round cake pans it’s best to line the bottoms with parchment paper, too). Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, & nutmeg) until well-combined.2 ⅔ cups (335 g) all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups (300 g) dark brown sugar, ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ¾ teaspoon allspice, ¾ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Add melted butter and oil and stir well until combined.12 Tablespoons (177 g) unsalted butter, ½ cup (118 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- Using an electric mixer, add eggs and vanilla and stir until completely combined.3 large eggs, 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- Stir in sour cream and then milk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure batter is smooth and uniform.1 cup (240 g) sour cream, ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
- Pour batter into prepared pan (or evenly divide into round cake pans). Transfer to center rack of 350F (175C) oven and bake for the following amount of time:If using a metal 13×9" pan or two 9" round pans: 30-35 minutes (a glass or ceramic pan will take longer to bake). When finished baking, the cake should spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.If using two 8" round pans: 35 minutes. When finished baking, the cake should spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- If using a 13×9 pan: Let cake cool completely before icing directly in the pan.
- If using round cake pans/making a layer cake: Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes then carefully invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Cakes will likely be domed and, if so, should be leveled before assembly. Cake must be cooled completely before icing.
- Combine cream cheese and butter in large bowl and use an electric mixer (or stand mixer) to beat until creamy and smooth.8 oz (225 g) cream cheese, ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.3 ½ cups (440 g) powdered sugar
- Stir in vanilla extract and salt.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Spread evenly over cooled cake.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cake may also be tightly wrapped and frozen for several months.
CupcakesThis recipe can be made as cupcakes, fill liners ⅔ of the way full and bake for approximately 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Will make approximately 30 cupcakes.
Original RecipeI first published this recipe in 2019 but a number of commenters noted that they had problems with the cake sinking. I want everyone to have success, so I went back to the drawing board and in 2022 modified this recipe to make it sturdier (while still being incredibly flavorful, moist, and easy to make!). If you were a fan of the original, you can find my original recipe here.
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.
This cake redeemed my confidence in my baking abilities! I had been feeling down because I could not get any peanut butter blossom recipes to work in my favor. The cookies kept coming out flat and crispy instead of soft and chewy. Sooooo, I stopped baking for like a week. I was partly upset because I have never had many issues with baking up until this point, and several online bakers kept harping on weighing certain ingredients, like flour. When you have a limited income like I do, a kitchen scale just isn’t a necessity, so I have always always made sure to measure my flour correctly with measuring cups (I.e. spooning and leveling). But, after several failed bakes back to back, I purchased a kitchen scale as a Christmas gift to myself.
While I don’t know if the scale is exactly what made all the difference (because this cake is just delicious), everything I baked for Christmas was from Sugar Spun Run and they all turned out fantastic.
For this cake, I was in the middle of preparing it for the oven when my nephew was having a cranky fit due to being sleepy. So, I had to instruct my 13 year of sister from the living room to finish the last couple of steps for the batter, and it still turned out beautifully.
While I still believe that baking can be enjoyed and successful without the use of a kitchen scale, if it is a luxury you can afford, it may give you some extra security in ensuring that a baked good turns out in away that you desire.
Thank you so much for this comment, Lex! I’m so glad you had success with this recipe!
I use the internet to find recipes all the time, but this is the first time I’ve ever commented or left a rating. I’m a good cook, but I’m not a baker. Especially with cakes. I made this cake today. After eating a piece, I proclaimed, “I am a baker”. This was so simple that it doesn’t prepare you for how delicious this cake is. I’m absolutely saving this recipe and checking out the rest on your site. Thank you for this recipe.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Suzanne! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! 🙂
Delicious! I’ll be making this again soon!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
So glad you enjoyed, Dani! Thanks for the review ❤️
I’ve made the cake and it’s delish! I’ve followed the recipe exactly and the result was moist and silky. Thanks!
Just took it out of the oven. Smells lovely and did not sink. Will frost after Cowboy game. Taking to a friends for dinner tonight
Thank you, made it as written. It was a big hit today! Delicious.
This recipe is delicious! My family loved it, thank you for sharing your recipes.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy it was a hit, Sandra! Thanks for the review ❤️
This cake was wonderful! I made it for a friend’s birthday and it was loved by each person! Thank you for all your great recipes and tips!
Flavor is great however, cake sank and I watched video and followed directions?
If I don’t have unsalted butter can I substitute salted butter?
Hi Karen! That will work just fine. You’ll want to reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon. 🙂
Although the flavor was good this cake was almost too dry, very dense (probably due to the sinking) and full of sugar crystals. I suspect that the problem so many of us experienced with this cake is due to the method of mixing. Next time I will use slightly less sugar and mix the oil, butter and sugar first, then add the eggs one at a time, then add the rest of the blended dry ingredients and buttermilk (might increase this slightly).
I haven’t made this yet, but can’t find the buttermilk in the ingredients. What am I seeing wrong. I only see whole milk. Thank you.
Hi Eileen! The recipe has been updated since this comment and there is no buttermilk in the cake. 🙂