This homemade spice cake is packed with warm spices and covered in a sweet maple icing. The perfect combination of spices, moist texture, and flavorful icing make this the best spice cake ever! And, it’s super easy- no mixer needed.
A spice cake is similar to carrot cake or pumpkin cake but it contains no carrots or pumpkin and it is heavier on the spices. It is the perfect cake for fall and winter because the flavors are warm and cozy.
Why you’ll love this spice cake
Warm and cozy flavor: Spices, brown sugar, and maple are the primary flavors.
Soft texture: This cake bakes up soft and moist from the combination of oil, applesauce, and sour cream. It stays moist for days!
Ease: This cake recipe is super easy and requires very little hands on time.
Make ahead: The flavors of this cake actually get better on day two and three, making this a great make ahead dessert.
Minimal equipment needed: No mixer? No problem! This cake comes together with bowls and a whisk.
The perfect spice mix
I tested this recipe with many different combinations and quantities of spices. Here is what makes the perfect mix for this cake:
- Cinnamon: This is the primary spice with just over a tablespoon in the cake.
- Nutmeg: This nutty warm and familiar flavor pairs well with the other spices.
- Ginger: Just enough to add a touch of ginger flavor but not enough to make it taste like gingerbread.
- Clove: This intense spice can be overpowering, so a little goes a long way.
- Star anise and/or allspice: I personally love the flavor of star anise (think black licorice), but it can be polarizing, If you’d prefer to skip the star anise use allspice instead. If you have both on hand, I recommend using ¼ teaspoon of each.
Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your taste. You can also use a spice mix such as pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice.
Be sure your spices are fresh, especially the ones that don’t get used frequently.
*Full recipe below in recipe card*
- Combine dry ingredients
- Whisk oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and applesauce
- Add dry ingredient to the wet ingredients, alternating with sour cream
- Pour into greased pan and bake
Once the cake has cooled, prepared the icing on the stovetop. Drizzle, pour, or spoon the icing over the cake.
Bundt pan tips (no sticking!)
The last thing you want after spending time and ingredients baking a cake is to have the cake stick to the pan or fall apart. Here are my three tips for getting your cake out of the pan easily:
- Use a good quality nonstick bundt pan. This is my favorite. I’ve made dozens of cakes in it and they come out beautifully every time.
- Wait to grease the pan until right before you add the batter. Use a non-stick baking spray with flour in it for the best result.
- Let the cake cool down a bit before removing it from the pan. The cake will firm up and be more stable than if you invert it right out of the oven.
Serving and storage
Serve this cake at room temperature or heated slightly. I heat individual slices in the microwave for about 8 seconds. This cake is extra delicious served with coffee or tea.
Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Leftovers may be frozen for up to 3 months. The frosting texture can be affected by freezing and thawing.
Spice Cake with Maple Icing
- 2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- scant ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice and/or ground star anise, I use ¼t each
- ⅔ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperture
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon maple extract (or sub ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
- scant ⅔ cup powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans or candied pecans, optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Wait to grease the pan until the batter is prepared.
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk oil, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, and applesauce until well combined. Whisk in half of the flour mixture followed by the sour cream, then the remaining flour.
- Thoroughly grease a 10-cup bundt pan (I use nonstick spray with flour in it). Pour the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 33-38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pan and place it directly on the rack to cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute or two, whisking frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in maple extract and powdered sugar. The icing will thicken as it cools; I let it cool for just a few minutes. It should be thin enough to pour but thick enough that it coats the cake. The icing will firm up fairly quickly so don't wait too long. Pour/spoon/drizzle the icing on the cake. If garnishing with chopped pecans add them immediately, before the frosting sets.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.