Fluffy and moist, this Apple Sauce Spice Cake is an old fashioned cake recipe that is extremely easy to make. Topped with a cinnamon cream cheese icing, this from-scratch recipe is packed with Autumn spices that makes a perfect Fall desert.
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Apple Spice Cake- A Family Recipe
In many ways my site is becoming a love letter to my mom and I love it! It has been awhile since her passing and I am finally getting around to more consistently sharing my parents treasure trove of family recipes.
In complete honesty, there are stacks and stacks of recipes to filter through because my Mom loved to cook.
With some of them I have literally screamed with delight when I found recipes like Mom’s Old Fashioned Swedish Apple Cake, Mom’s Walnut Balls and Mom’s Family Style Sweet and Sour Chicken. I was just so happy that I didn’t loose them.
However, a few of her recipes I have had no memory of or very limited memories (not surprising because there are so many of them). The good news though, they have been out of this world amazing like my Mom’s Witches Brew, Broonie and this Apple Sauce Spice Cake.
I am so excited to continue sharing these recipes with you also. These beautiful family treasures make life just a little brighter.
Baking With Apple Sauce
Often apple sauce will be seen as a replacement for butter or oil in baking and in some recipes it can be used as a replacement for eggs. However, in recipes like this Apple Sauce Cake it is the star of the show. Use a high quality organic applesauce to ensure the most flavorful results.
One of the more frustrating experiences in baking is only needing a 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Most containers in grocery store are 1 quart in size. Unless you are planning on making Buttermilk Chicken with the leftover buttermilk, most of it will go to waste.
An easy alternative is to make homemade buttermilk. For this cake recipe pour a heaping teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar in the bottom of a glass measuring cup and add regular milk measuring to 1/4 cup. Stir and let sit for about 10 mins before adding to the cake mixture.
Softening Butter and Cream Cheese Quickly
When making any baked goods that require softened butter and/or cream cheese, I will usually place them on the counter early in the day to soften to room temperature. However, for the times that I forget to leave butter and cream cheese out, this is how I softened them quickly. Remove them from their wrappers and place on a small microwave safe plate with room between the two. Heat for 20-30 seconds on power level 2. Often I will have to repeat this step 2-3 times to achieve the softened texture needed.
Pro Tip: Using a lower power level multiple times helps to not melt both the butter and cream cheese. This has been the closest method to softening on the counter I have found.
- All-Purpose Flour– Gives the cake structure while providing a soft but sturdy crumb.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda– Leaveners that cause the cake to rise when mixed with the liquid ingredients.
- Spices– Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger adds warmth and amazing flavor.
- Butter– Adds a rich and creamy flavor that adds depth to cakes. Also is used in the cream cheese icing.
- Apple Sauce– The star of this recipe, helping the cake to remain moist and gives it a delicious apple flavor.
- Buttermilk– Helps to make a tender crumb in this Apple Sauce Cake. (See Homemade Buttermilk section above for details in making your own.)
- Vanilla Extract– Provides a pleasant depth of flavor. Make sure to use pure vanilla extract rather than imitation vanilla extract for the best final product.
- Eggs– Binds the cake batter together.
- Cream Cheese– Makes for a luxurious and creamy frosting.
- Powdered Sugar– Thickens and sweetens the frosting.
- Half and Half (or whole milk)- Gives the frosting a spreadable consistency.
How To Make Apple Sauce Spice Cake
- Preheat oven 350°F. Grease 9×12 pan.
- Sift dry ingredients (flour through ginger) in large bowl.
- Cream butter & sugar. Beat in apple sauce, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs.
- Add flour mixture in 2 parts, mixing just until incorporated.
- Pour into pan. Bake 30-35 mins until tester comes out clean.
- Beat butter, cream cheese.
- Add powdered sugar in parts, beating until smooth.
- Halfway through, add vanilla & cinnamon.
- Thin with half & half 1 tbsp at a time if needed.
- Beat 2 mins high speed. Frost cake. Refrigerate leftovers.
- Make sure to soften both the butter and cream cheese to room temperature.
- If needed, make your own buttermilk easily with milk and lemon juice. (See Homemade Buttermilk section above.)
- To measure flour correctly, scoop it lightly into a dry cup and level it off with a knife. This will ensure that the cake does not become too dense.
- Only add just enough half & half to create a smooth and luxurious textured frosting.
- Once all the ingredients are mixed when making the frosting, blend on high speed for a full two minutes. Doing this creates a silky smooth fluffy texture.
- Wait to make the frosting until the cake as cooled completely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use chunky apple sauce instead of smooth?
Smooth apple sauce works best so the texture is consistent. Chunky can make the crumb uneven.
How long does the cake need to cool before frosting?
Let the cake cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.
What’s the best way to test if the cake is done baking?
Test with a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake. It should come out clean when done.
How do I make this cake gluten-free?
Your best bet for creating a luxurious gluten-free cake is to use a flour such as this.
More Family Favorite Desserts
Apple Sauce Spice Cake
Apple Sauce Spice Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter *softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 lg eggs
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 tbsp butter *softened to room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese *softened to room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tbsp half & half *or whole milk
Apple Sauce Spice Cake
- Preheat oven to 350℉ and lightly grease a 9 1/2 x 12 rectangle pan.
- In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients (first seven ingredients). Stir well making sure all spices are incorporated. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electic mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in apple sauce and then add buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. Beat for 2 mins.
- To the wet ingredients add half of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and repeat with second half of flour mixture making sure to not over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan and and bake in center of oven for 30-35 mins or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean and cake bounces back when lightly touched. Let cool completely before making frosting.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a stand mixer or large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese.
- Add powder sugar 1 cup at a time and beat on slow speed until incorporated.
- At the halfway point add vanilla and cinnamon. If frosting becomes too thick, add in half & half 1 tbsp at a time until correct consistency is achieved.
- Beat for 2 full mins on high speed and then frost cake. Store leftover cake covered in refrigerator.