Apple spice cake is a layered cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. The fresh apples and cinnamon in the cake make every bite flavorful!

layer apple spice cake on cake plate next to two cake slices on white plates

When it comes to fall baking, I will pick apple over pumpkin any day. I love the crisp texture and flavor apples give to baked goods and this apple spice cake is no exception. Each layer of this cake is coated with rich cinnamon cream cheese frosting and the cake itself is loaded with apples and fall spices. Each slice is moist and flavorful!

Why this recipe works: The cake batter has not only fresh apples, but also applesauce, which helps with the flavor and moisture in the cake. Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg provide plenty of spice while the cinnamon cream cheese frosting adds a rich element to every bite.

apple spice cake ingredients in bowls labeled with text
cinnamon cream cheese frosting ingredients in bowls labeled with text

How to make apple spice cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 6-inch round cake pans.
  2. Make cake batter: Whisk dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients until well combined. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until combined. Stir in chopped apples.
  3. Bake cakes: Divide cake batter among prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Make the frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and mix until smooth.
  5. Frost cakes: Place one cake on a cake pan, top with frosting. Repeat with remaining layers, then frost the outside of the cakes. Garnish with pecans and apple slices.
photo collage demonstrating how to make apple spice cake batter in a mixing bowl
photo collage demonstrating how to make apple spice cake batter in a mixing bowl and 6-inch round cake pans
photo collage demonstrating how to make cinnamon cream cheese frosting in a mixing bowl and frost an apple layer cake

Helpful tips

Apple spice cake turns out best when all the cake ingredients are room temperature as this will help the ingredients blend together better. It’s also helpful to weigh ingredients with a kitchen scale for the most accurate measuring. Try my magic cake pan release to prevent cakes from sticking to the pan.

For the cream cheese frosting, make sure the cream cheese and butter are softened, but still cool. If cream cheese is too warm, the frosting will be goopy. Before frosting the cake, make sure the cake is completely cooled and level off the cakes with a serrated knife to prevent a lopsided cake.

layer apple spice cake with cream cheese frosting garnished with chopped pecans, cinnamon sticks and apple slices on a white cake plate

Frequently Asked Questions

What apples are best for cake?

Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples are best for baking. Braeburn and Northern Spy are good options too.

How long does apple cake last?

Apple cake is best when it is served within in a day or two of baking, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for three days or in the refrigerator for five days.

Can you freeze apple cake?

Yes. Let the cakes cool completely, then double wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before bringing to room temperature and frosting. Freeze the frosting separately, defrost in the refrigerator and rewhip at room temperature before frosting.

Why is my cream cheese frosting goopy?

It’s likely the cream cheese and butter were too warm. You want them softened, but still cool to the touch. The other issue may be that the frosting was over mixed. To fix this, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, then remix the frosting for 5 to 10 seconds.

slice of triple layer apple spice cake on white gold-rimmed plate next to cinnamon sticks and pecans

If you liked this apple layer, then you will love my apple bundt cake recipe with caramel glaze. It has all the flavor of this apple cake, but made in a bundt cake pan! You can also throw diced apples into apple cider bread, which has cinnamon icing, or apple crumble muffins. Other popular apple recipes include apple crumble pie with an oat topping as well as decadent apple cheesecake bars.

slice of triple layer apple spice cake on white gold-rimmed plate with two forks

Apple spice cake has so much flavor and pairs perfectly with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I think it is the perfect fall cake! Make it after apple picking or for a friend who has a fall birthday. Whatever the occasion is, surely you will enjoy this cake. If you tried the recipe, leave a review in the comments below and tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media.

layer apple spice cake with cream cheese frosting garnished with chopped pecans and apple slices

Apple Layer Cake

Apple spice cake is a layered cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. The fresh apples and cinnamon make every bite flavorful!

Ingredients

Apple Spice Cake

  • 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (52 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup (60 g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples, about 2-3 large apples (I used Honeycrisp)

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups (450 g or 16 oz) cream cheese, softened, but still cool
  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, but still cool
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups (480 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions 

Apple Spice Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease three 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray or my magic cake pan release and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce, sour cream, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in three parts, mixing just until combined after each addition. Stir in apples with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, then mix just until combined, scraping down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as necessary.

Assembly

  • If the cakes domed while baking, use a serrated knife to level them until flat. Place the first cake on a plate, then top with a scoop of frosting and spread evenly. Top with the second layer and frost again. Top with third layer and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and outside of the cake. Garnish with chopped pecans, cinnamon sticks and/or apple slices.

Notes

Apples: The best apples for baking are Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Braeburn. They keep a crisp texture and flavor.
Cream cheese frosting: Make sure cream cheese and butter are softened, but still cool to the touch. If the frosting is too thin, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Mix again for 5 to 10 seconds, then frost the cake.
Store apple spice cake covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Freeze apple spice cake (unfrosted) for up to 1 month. Double wrap cake layers individually in plastic wrap. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before bringing to room temperature and frosting.
High altitude adjustments: This recipe was written for sea level. For high altitude adjustments (Denver, CO, alt. 5,280 ft), use a high-protein flour such as King Arthur All Purpose Flour. Decrease baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon and baking soda to 1/4 teaspoon. Decrease granulated sugar to 3/4 cup. Baking times may vary.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 590kcal, Carbohydrates: 72g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 105mg, Sodium: 289mg, Potassium: 175mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 54g, Vitamin A: 848IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 83mg, Iron: 2mg

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