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.
You’ve done it again! Made me the star baker at work! I followed your cake/frosting recipe to the tee. My cake did sink in the center, I was nervous about frosting it and serving it at work but it came out fantastic! Moist without being too dense and the frosting is to die for! I’ve made your chocolate cake and carrot cake with amazing results. Thanks again for adding another winner to my recipe box.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy you loved it, Jess! So sorry to hear it sunk though–it might have needed just a few more minutes in the oven. Sounds like it still tasted great though! 😊
I made this recipe and followed every direction exactly and it turned out awful. The outside was hard and the middle wasn’t done so I had to let it cook for another 5 minutes. Then when I was finally able to take it out of the oven and decided to try and let it cool and see if maybe it would be somewhat ok to eat and not let it all go to waste and the outside edges became hard as a rock and I basically had to saw through with a sharp knife to cut it so I ended up throwing it out. I check my oven temperature regularly because I am always baking and cooking things and I have never had an issue with my oven or anything so I know that it wasn’t something wrong with anything on my end. I really don’t have a clue what happened because in my entire life I have never had anything I baked not turn out. I have won several contests with cakes from scratch also ever since I was 8 years old until last year. So I really don’t have a clue what went wrong. I wish it turned out because it smelled amazing it was just hard as a rock. I wish I could say it turned out and was good but I can’t.
I’m so sorry this happened, Mandi! That is so odd especially if your oven is baking properly. Is it possible something was mis-measured somewhere? I’ve made this cake several times and haven’t had this experience so I’m really bummed to hear it. 🙁
I triple check all of my measurements everything I make anything. I pre measure and have everything sitting lined up and ready to go when I need it and I go back down the line and make sure everything is correct at least 3 times. I have ocd so I have to check bc it drives me crazy if I don’t lol. I’m not sure what happened. I don’t know if my weather had anything to do with it but I wouldn’t think it would affect it. I live in Florida and it was raining pretty hard. But I haven’t ever had an issue with any other cake or anything I have made so I’m not thinking it was because of that. I will give it another try tomorrow when it is sunny and see what happens and then I’ll leave a note on how it turns out. Hopefully it won’t go bad again because it’s a waste of ingredients but I hate failing and if you make it a ton then I’ll try again. 😃
That’s really odd. I have made it many times and never come across this issue. I hope it goes better tomorrow. 🙂
I tried it again and it didn’t work again. Not sure what is going on. I gave it a shot though
I love the flavor profile of this cake. I however had the same issue you have had each time I made it. Crunch in the outside Ans moist almost undone in the middle. I cut the oil to 1/2 cup and have since had an even bake each time I have made it with no crunchy outside. The flavor is amazing and it is moist.
I’ll have to give it another try then. It really sounded delicious so hopefully this will work. Thank you for the info!
Made this cake and followed the recipe to a tee. Baked it for even under 40 mins.. but the outside was over baked and inside underbaked. What a waste. Ended up throwing it all out. And it have caved in.cake was dense and heavy.
Hi Cassandra! I’m so sorry to hear this. Is your oven temperature accurate and were you baking it on the center rack? It sounds like your oven may be running hot causing the outsides to cook too fast. The cake caved because it sounds like it wasn’t fully cooked all the way through, this would also make it dense.
Something seems off… very dry on the outside and too much ginger… the taste is more like gingerbread not a well balanced spice cake.
I’m hoping to make this as a Bundt cake this weekend. Do you think that will work? Suggestions on baking time?
Hi Leah! It should work as a bundt cake, but I’m not sure on bake time.
It turned out great!! I baked it fir 50 minutes and it came out moist inside with a nice crunchy caramelized crust outside. My dark brown sugar was a brick when I went to use it so instead I used 1 1/3 C light brown sugar and about 2 T molasses…it was absolutely delicious!!!
Thanks for the feedback! I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much. 🙂
Would love to make this but I need half as much do you have the measurements for 1/2 cake? Thanks
Hi Robin! I don’t have it written out, just divide all of the ingredients in half. 🙂
Does it need to be refrigeratorated after you ice it?
Hi Megan! It can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container. 🙂
This batter smells delicious. I tried to bake cupcakes with it and they sunk in the middle. Almost as if I forgot an ingredient. I double checked and did not forget anything. Do you know any reasons why the cupcakes wouldnt rise??
Hi Justine! This cake has a tendency to sink when made as cupcakes. Unfortunately it’s just the nature of this cake. I have been working on a cupcake version though, but I don’t quite have it perfected.
I love this recipe! It is not too sweet like some cakes. I made them into cupcakes and left some unfrosted. I love them with and without!
I’m so happy you enjoyed, Stephanie! Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know how they turned out for you 🙂
I’d like to do this as a two layer 8” round cake. What adjustments would I need to make to the recipe for this?
Hi Melissa! Only the baking time would need to be adjusted, I would suspect it would probably need about 30-35 minutes, but having not tried it myself in these pans I’m not certain exactly how long it will take.
This is wood good! I made this for thanksgiving for my family and it was gone in a flash! I love all you recipes!
I am so glad everyone enjoyed it so much, Mary! 🙂
havent tried it yet but ittl be amazing. I’m planning on making this recipe in a sheet pan for my local hospital. I’m gonna double the recipe, but how long should I bake it for approximately? also love the blog, the channel, everything, you are amazing and so positive. <3<3<3<3<3
Thank you so much, Ariel! Unfortunately I don’t know how long it would need to bake in the bigger pan. I would just keep an eye on it. 🙂
Tried this cake for the first time. Taste was good. But only thing i is it was not very moist. I followed the recipe . Any suggestions.
Btw I enjoy all your recipes.
O no! I’m so sorry this happened! Is there any chance it was slightly over-baked? I’m glad you enjoy everything and hope this one will turn out better for you next time. 🙂
My store has been out of ginger every time I look for it. I do have two big jars of pumpkin spice in my cabinet that contains most of these spices, can I substitute pumpkin spice and what ratio should I use?
So it would definitely change the taste some, but i’m sure it would still be good. I would probably use the cinnamon as listed and then maybe substitute all of the other spices 1:1
Used mayo as a substitute for eggs, it’s also a good trick if you are finding that the cake isn’t moist enough! So far, I’m loving this recipe!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Hannah! 🙂
How much Mayo did you use?
The flavor of this cake was amazing. My issue is that the cake was dry and the crumb was tough. I made sure to not over mix it and I baked it 5 minutes less than instructed because it was done. Do you have any suggestions to try next time? I really want to love this cake.
Hi Jennifer! So if it was already done 5 minutes before the indicated time I think it was just over-baked overall. Is it possible that your oven is running hotter than it lets on? This is a common problem with ovens unfortunately, I would recommend getting an oven thermometer and placing it near the center of your oven. Also make sure to bake on the center rack. Another possibility is that too much flour was accidentally used, that can dry out a cake, too. I hope this helps and I hope you’ll give it another shot! From what you’ve said I think it just needs less time in the oven, even a minute or two too long can dry out a cake and make it tough, and if your oven is running hot it may have just baked too long.