This spice cake is a mouthful of warm, comforting spiced cake layers and rich and smooth cream cheese frosting. These fall flavors will fill your kitchen and your mouth with the warmth and aroma of the season!

If you are looking for more delicious recipes that will fill your house and your tastebuds with the delicious spices of fall, be sure to try my apple cinnamon scones, my pumpkin coffee cake and my caramel apple dip.

A three layer spice cake topped with a white frosting.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Packed with all your favorite spices. This spice cake has such a lovely warm flavor thanks to all the spices in it.
  • Moist cake layers. This layered spice cake is not just delicious, it is moist, too! There is nothing better than a nice, moist cake. Thanks to the buttermilk, we get a perfectly moist cake.
  • Easy cake from scratch. Making a cake from scratch doesn’t have to be super complex with tons of different elements. This cake is easy and simple to make, but it tastes super fancy and delicious!

Ingredients

Spice Cake ingredients on a gray background.
  • Buttermilk: Using buttermilk will keep the cake layers moist and will help them rise thanks to the acid reacting with the baking soda.
  • Spices: By using cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, we get such a depth of flavor that makes this spice cake punchy and delicious.
  • Brown Sugar: Using brown sugar in addition to granulated sugar gives us a richer, caramel-like flavor and a bit of a denser texture in the cake layers.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

Spice Cake frosting ingredients on a gray background.
  • Cream Cheese: I’m not a huge cream cheese frosting fan, but this recipe is good! The ratios are so yummy.
  • Butter: Using a butter base gives us a nice balance of the cream cheese and the buttercream.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Add the butter and sugars to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix until combined.
  1. Add the eggs to the shortening and sugar mixture and mix again.
  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. This includes the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all of the spice cake spices. Whisk the ingredients so everything is evenly incorporated.
  2. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk into the stand mixer, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix until everything is combined. Do not over mix!
  1. Divide the batter evenly amongst the 3 cake pans. (To make sure I had equal amounts of batter in each cake pan, I used a kitchen scale.)
Three round cake pans with spice cake batter in each.
  1. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  2. Remove the cake pans from the oven and let them cool IN the pan for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, revert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool until just *slightly* warm.
A baked Spice Cake in a round cake pan.

Make the Spice Cake Frosting

  1. Add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Mixing well between each addition.
  3. Add milk until you reach desired consistency. 
Cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl.
  1. Assemble the cake by placing frosting between each layer. I’ve done this as a naked cake, however, you can frost it fully.
Three layers of baked spice cake with cream cheese frosting between each layer.

Recipe Tips

I used three 6-inch cake rounds (3 inches high – but using them in 2-inch high pans would work too), but you can use two 8-inch cake rounds if you’d like. The bake time will be a little different so keep an eye on the oven if you choose to go with a cake pan size larger than 6 inches. I would one-and-a-half the recipe if you decide to do three 8-inch round pans. And you’d probably want to do the same for the frosting.

Lightly spray a cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray prior to inverting your cake onto it. This prevents the cake from sticking to the wire rack. Genius, really.

I don’t let my cakes cool completely. I want them just *barely* warm. When they cool completely the cakes tend to dry out. Nobody wants a dry cake!

I used very generous amount of frosting between each cake layer and did a crumb coat around the cake to give it the naked cake effect. You can add a thicker coating of frosting on the outside if you want.

To bake this in a 9×13-inch pan, check the cake about halfway through as the cooking time will vary. You could also 1/2 the frosting, since you just need one layer on top (unless you like LOTS of frosting on your cake… then keep it as written!)

To make these into cupcakes, I recommend baking them at 325 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. However, I haven’t made them into cupcakes before, so this is an estimate based on my cupcake making experience. Be sure to keep an eye on them so you don’t over bake them.

A frosted Spice Cake on a white plate.

Storing and Freezing Cake

Storing: If you don’t finish the whole cake in one sitting, store this cake in the fridge for a few days due to the cream cheese frosting. The cake can remain on the counter at room temperature for a few hours before needing to move it to the fridge.

Freezing: If you want to save the cakes to frost on a different day, then double wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for 2 days, or in the freezer. If you plan on storing the cakes in the freezer for longer than 3 days, I would double wrap them with plastic wrap and then cover them with tin foil. This frosting makes enough for a fully frosted 3-layer cake.

To freeze a fully frosted cake, place the frosted cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until the frosting is completely set/frozen on the outside. Double wrap the cake in plastic wrap and then again in tin foil. The fully frosted cake can freeze for up to 2 weeks. Take the cake out of the freezer and place in the fridge the night before serving. The morning of serving, remove the tin foil layer and let stand at room temperature.

FAQs

What is spice cake made of?

Spice cake is typically made with an array of spices — which is where it gets its name. It does not mean that the cake is spicy.

What is the difference between spice cake and carrot cake?

A lot of the elements will be similar since carrot cake also has some of the same spices. However, the biggest difference is in the name. Carrot cake is made with grated carrots.

What are the spices used in Duncan Hines spice cake mix?

Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. We use the additional spice of cloves to bring home the spice flavor!

A slice of Spice Cake on a tan plate.

More Delicious Cake Recipes

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Print Review
5 from 13 votes

Spice Cake

This spice cake has the best blend of spices AND it’s topped with an irresistibly smooth cream cheese frosting. A perfect cake for parties or every day enjoyment. 
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter - softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar - packed
  • 3 large eggs - room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk

Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese - softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup butter - softened but still slightly cold, can use salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk - *might need more to achieve desired consistency

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3-6 inch round cake pans. Set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • Add the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs. Mix until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. 
  • Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. 
  • Once all of the dry ingredients have been added, mix on low speed until JUST combined! 
  • Divide the batter evenly amongst the 3 cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. (Mine baked for 27 minutes). 
  • Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. 
  • After 10 minutes, turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool until a bit warmer than room temperature. *
  • Frost the cake. Enjoy!

Frosting

  • Add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. 
  • Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Mixing well between each addition.
  • Add milk until you reach desired consistency. 

Notes

Lightly spray a cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray prior to inverting your cake onto it. This prevents the cake from sticking to the wire rack.
Storing: If you plan on storing the cake layers for longer than 2 days, double wrap them with plastic wrap and then cover with tin foil and store in the freezer. If you don’t finish the whole cake in one sitting,
To freeze a fully frosted cake, place the frosted cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until the frosting is completely set/frozen on the outside. Double wrap the cake in plastic wrap and then again in tin foil. The fully frosted cake can freeze for up to 2 weeks. Take the cake out of the freezer and place in the fridge the night before serving. The morning of serving, remove the tin foil layer and let stand at room temperature.
Store the completed cake in the fridge for a few days due to the cream cheese frosting. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 828kcal (41%)Carbohydrates: 135g (45%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 30g (46%)Saturated Fat: 13g (65%)Cholesterol: 102mg (34%)Sodium: 558mg (23%)Potassium: 194mg (6%)Sugar: 109g (121%)Vitamin A: 720IU (14%)Calcium: 111mg (11%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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This recipe was originally published on Dec. 6, 2018. It was republished on Sept. 21, 2019 to include additional information and photos.