spiced applesauce cake

If there is anything as magnificent as October in New York City, well, I don’t believe you. The trees I didn’t know we had deposit rust-colored leaves all over the sidewalks, the sky is impossibly blue, the air drinkably crisp and suddenly, you can walk for miles and never feel overheated or spent. It leads to a lot of trips to the market. Even when we don’t need anything, we just make up excuses to go, like just to get a tiny apple for our 13 month-old anti-New Yorker who smiles at and chats (“Ga-ga! Gaga!”*) willingly with strangers who pass him on the sidewalk and if that hasn’t charmed you yet, imagine this same child clutching a handful of flowers the eggplant lady at the market gave him to give to his mama. Seriously, guys, New York City is sweet in the fall.

cake belly

And without fail, this is my favorite month to cook, the one in which every recipe that crosses my path delights me more than the one before. Remember last week, when I was all “these scones are October on a parchment-lined baking sheet”? I was lying. Turns out, this is. Well, in a buttered square cake pan. It’s one of these cakes you should make just because you can. Just because there’s nothing not to love about a kitchen filled with the scent of freshly baked spiced cake. Or because you’re probably drowning in apples and applesauce from your apple-picking excursions and are out of ideas for them. Or because you’ve never met an application for cream cheese frosting that you couldn’t love.


applesauce spice cake

I don’t spend a lot of time talking about ingredients on this site because I like to focus on the kind of recipes that work with whatever you can get, whether it’s big chain store brand or ground from organic free range fairy wings. But. Two weeks ago, I stopped by the Penzey’s spice stand in Grand Central Terminal Market just to look which as we all know is shorthand for, “Time to break out the granny cart!” I had a list of things I’ve been curious about — What does good white pepper taste like? Why does Mexican vanilla extract smell so much more heavenly? Tell me about Aleppo pepper! — but the one that took this cake from “perfect” to “transcendent” was Vietnamese cinnamon, which managed to be stronger, clearer and richer than any cinnamon I had used before. I can’t think of a better thing to treat yourself to in this cinnamon-dusted season, or a more welcome addition to the recipe below.

cinnamon cream cheese frosting
to share with the baby

* He thinks his name is Gaga. We keep trying to tell him that name is taken, and that he’ll have to be called “Little Lord Gaga” instead.

One year ago: Cauliflower with Raisins, Almonds and Capers
Two years ago: Deep Dark Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Three years ago: Pumpkin Butter and Pepita Granola
Four years ago: Wild Mushroom and Stilton Galette

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted, barely, from

This cake is extremely moist, which means it’s a rare cake that tastes almost as good on day three as it did on day one, if you can get it to last that long. It’s the kind of cake that quickly slips into your repertoire; make it on a Monday, I guarantee you’ll find another event that wouldn’t be complete without it by Friday. And then again on Sunday.

If you’re using a stronger cinnamon, such as the aformentioned Vietnamese cinnamon, you can use 2/3 of the suggested amount for a similar impact, or full amount for an extra cinnamon pop.

Drowning in apples from an orchard excursion and haven’t made applesauce yet? Here’s my favorite, easy as can be, recipe for it, subtle and unsweetened. Want another fun fall riff on this? Try pear sauce, with or without the vanilla bean, instead or a mixture of the two.

Update 11/4/11: Just made these as cupcakes and it yielded 18. They bake for 15 minutes, same temperature. Mine didn’t dome terribly much, so you can safely fill them 7/8 of the way. I would suggest doubling the frosting (I 1.6x-ed it and came up a little short), especially if you frost cupcakes in the bakery style, as in, generously. Happy baking!

For cake
2 cups (8 3/4 ounces or 250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 7/8 ounces or 195 grams) packed light brown sugar (updated weight)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 13 ounces or 365 grams) unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces or 50 grams) walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

For frosting
5 ounces (142 grams) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces or 120 grams) confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. I had no trouble getting my cake out of a nonstick pan by just buttering it, but if you don’t have a nonstick cake pan or are a little nervous, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that too.

Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). The batter will look a little curdly and uneven but don’t worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. You can speed this up, as I always do, in the fridge.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Do ahead: We were impressed with how well this cake kept for three days but were unable to “research” if it lasted longer. Keep frosted cake in the fridge. If you’d like to bake the cake further in advance, I’d wrap it well and freeze it until the day you need it. Leave it out on the counter to defrost and frost it up to a day in advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

578 comments on spiced applesauce cake

    1. Jessie

      Hi Deb,
      I love this cake but I just can’t bring myself to use the electric mixer. Could you suggest an easier way to mix it up?

  1. New York is just blissful right now! How fabulous to be able to walk for a solid 30 minutes without melting into the scorching sidewalk…amazing. This apple cake looks divine…and cream cheese frosting? On anything. Seriously, we will eat it on anything. Also must investigate this Vietnamese cinnamon…hmm…

  2. Donna Sue

    Oh man, this is one of my go-to recipes from Gourmet. I miss it so much. It’s delicious with just a simple glaze of powdered sugar and apple brandy, too (since cream cheese doesn’t last long in my house). :)

  3. Darcy

    What a great Fall recipe. Did I say Fall? Wait a minute, I live in an area of the country where the seasons are hot, hotter and hottest while air conditioners hum year round. Oh to experience going to the market without the need for massive doses of hydration to stave off a heat stroke. Thanks to you, not only will I have a wonderful new recipe, I can also vicariously experience an illusory season.

  4. last week i tried to make apple butter, but ended up with a very caramelized deeply spiced applesauce. i’ve spent a week thinking about what to use it for – i was leaning toward swirled scones, but i think this cake would be perfect. thank you!

  5. CJ

    Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon is also dynamite sprinkled on apple slices for a “cinnamon red hots” treat and swirled liberally into a dish of vanilla ice-cream. Really good.

    1. deb

      Joy — Apple butter is usually sweetened, yes? So it would make for a very very sweet cake. If you’ve got apples laying around, applesauce generally only needs to cook for 20 to 30 minutes…

  6. This cake is just too perfect for fall. In fact, I now have a case of major autumnal envy. Hearing about the weather turning crisp and the leaves changing colors just makes me sigh and gaze out the window at my still-green Houston trees, knowing that it’s still 80 degrees outside. I can’t wait for things to cool off! When it does and I dive into a marathon of fall baking, this cake will be first on my list. Looks gorgeous!!

  7. Joy in DC

    LOVE the cinnamon section at Penzeys (and well, all the other sections too).

    Shall I assume that you used your homemade applesauce when you made this (or did you sneak in store bought)?

    1. deb

      Rebecca — Yes! Meant to add that. I thought this cake would make SPLENDID cupcakes. You will be the hit of the pumpkin carving party. :)

      I also think this has excellent potential for a fall layer cake. Bake two layers round and at least double the frosting.

    1. Kimberly Dunn

      Can this be madebwith gluten free flour???? Have any attempts been made? Thank u so much 2 out of the 4 of us here have a wheat allergy. Thanks again

  8. Lora

    Thank you for mentioning Penzeys…they are from my hometown and I’m constantly singing their praises, hoping to convert more people to good spices. I will be adding this cake to the week’s plans – as soon as we finish up the pumpkin cake I made yesterday! I love fall!

  9. Oh, and New York + fall = perfect! My favorite place to be during my favorite time of the year. Each week, just when you think the leaves couldn’t get brighter and more colorful, you step outside and get your breath taken away again! I love walking through the ramble the morning after a rain…. I miss NYC.

  10. cb72

    Yum. This reminds me of a applesauce cocoa cake I’ve made a few times for Yom Kippur break-the-fast. We have all of these apples from apple-picking, gotta do something with ’em!

  11. if i happened to be drowning in sweetened applesauce thanks to a canning maniac, could i cut back the brown sugar and use the sweetened apple sauce? if so, where would you suggest starting?

  12. This looks really tasty, can’t wait to make it! I also love your Lime Yogurt Cake and it’s a staple in my repertoire! I live in one of the spice mecca’s of the world, East Africa, so I will see if we can compete with the Vietnamese Cinnamon! Ironically, I can get vanilla beans dirt cheap here, but I can’t get vanilla extract!

  13. Marbarre`

    I am so glad you have discovered Penzeys! Every single thing they have is special, and it is not hard to splurge on spices. Lucky you to have one within a subway ride. We need to order on line. By the way, I used pear in the cake as you suggested and it was amazing….can’t imagine how it can be topped by the apple. I will have to do a side by side comparison…in the interest of research, of course.

  14. Sharon

    How is the cake sans frosting? I’ve been looking for an applesauce snack cake for the kids lunches etc. Does this fit the bill? Or does the frosting “make” it?

  15. heatherkh

    CURSE YOU! I just made applesauce muffins last night, and I can guarantee you they are not as good as this would have been in muffin/cupcake form. They aren’t bad, but they’re definitely missing something (i.e. FROSTING).

    But thank you for another use for my applesauce which we rarely seem to use as actual applesauce. Go figure.

  16. I made this last fall and it came out dry (sad face). Maybe it is because I made my own applesauce, or, more likely, because I have a tendency to bake cakes to death. Yup, probably the latter.

  17. Nadia

    This looks beautiful, just the kind of cake I love. I wish you’d posted it in the summer when my mother’s English apple trees were drunk heavy with fruit, but I’d make a cake like this any time, any day. I’ll be back!

  18. Andrea

    I started my butter softening as soon as I saw this recipe. I made some dynamite applesauce this weekend, and I thought it would be perfect in this cake. It is slightly sweetened and has cinnamon and allspice in it already, but I just cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup and put in just the ginger and a little more cinnamon. (I left out the cloves–I wasn’t sure about cloves and allspice together.) The batter tasted great and it’s in the oven now! I didn’t have any cream cheese, so I’m making a powdered sugar glaze. Perfect for my day off!

  19. Deb, I just visited Penzey’s in Massachusetts when I was there a few weeks ago. I couldn’t leave without the wonderful cinnamon you mentioned. It makes such a difference – and I’ve found every excuse to use it as often as I can. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Fusilli Amy

    I stocked up on all my Fall baking ingredients (including more pounds of cream cheese than I care to admit) with the hopes of recipes like this one. And I’m excited to invest in the Vietnamese cinnamon.

    I love my W-S Gold Touch pans. How great are they?! *said in my best Ina Garten “How easy is that?” impression* I’m looking forward to her new release tomorrow!

  21. Susan

    April and October are the months I tell everyone to visit the east coast. The weather is perfect for site seeing and the colors of the trees are magnificent. It’s the onlly time I like to go visit my home town in MD and neaby DC.
    This cake looks so homey and cozy! It just doesn’t take anytime at all to cook down some apples for this or for any meal as a side dish. The pectin in the apples gives baked goods such a nice springy/sturdy texture and enough moisture that you don’t need as much fat to get the same moistening power and/but without the richness.
    I keep trying to see you in Jacob..but I keep seeing more of Alex in his looks. Maybe next time?

  22. Ashley

    I have lot of homemade applesauce at home and can’t wait to use it for this recipe!

    Little question: I’ve heard it is possible to substitute applesauce for the fat requirement (oil or butter) in a cake recipe in efforts to make it healthier. Since this recipe already calls for applesauce and butter, would it be possible to substitute more applesauce for the butter or would that mess too much with the crumb?

  23. Jen

    I just made these as cupcakes + frosting (obviously a slight variation) for my one year old’s birthday this weekend. Devoured by all!

  24. I have to agree with you on the Vietnamese cinnamon. I was given a jar of amazing cinnamon from a family friend and it makes a significant difference in recipes.

    Btw, congratulations on your InStyle mention.

  25. Rory K.

    So, I normally hate when people make posts like this (“I made your recipe, but I changed…”) but hopefully someone will find this helpful. I was short on a couple ingredients, so I made the following changes:

    Applesauce: I didn’t have any, but I did have a few old-ish Granny Smiths laying around. Peeled, cored, and chopped 3 1/4. Set the 1/4 aside. With the remaining: boiled in a bath of 6 cups water, 2 tsp sugar until soft. Cooled under cold water. Used the cooked apples and the 1/4 uncooked.

    Butter: I was short 1/4 of a stick, so I added 2 tsp vegetable oil for fat and made sure to fold the egg whites in at the end for lift.

    I also added a drop of almond extract and a dash of nutmeg to the cake.

    Anyway, the whole thing came out wonderfully. I was a little afraid of the Granny Smiths not being a sweeter apple like a Fuji, but it turned out fine to my tastes.

  26. Yum yum yum. My husband brought home half a peck of apples last week and I’ve been wondering what to do with them – this will be perfect! Especially since I’ve gotten the applesauce thing down pat with baby J. My only quibble is with the frosting – my go-to recipe is:
    one block of cream cheese
    one stick butter
    one cup confectioner’s sugar
    one teaspoon vanilla.

    So much easier to measure, and perfectly creamy. I will try with the cinnamon, though.

  27. Madeline

    Penzey’s originated Wauwatosa, near Milwaukee, WI, where I’m from. The original store is a small, almost shed that looks unassuming. Entering it, you’re overwhelmed with a spicy aroma and it’s almost headache inducing. On the shelves stacked 5 or 6 high on the walls, are giant glass jars of spices and herbs. You grab one, take it to Mrs. Penzey in the front, and she fills a small glass jar for you. If you’re younger, she shakes vanilla sugar (try it, honestly, it’s addictive) into your hand and asks you to try to figure out what it is. My mom’s had Saigon cinnamon (I think it’s the same that you found) for the last 10 or more years. I don’t even think about other cinnamon as legitimate anymore.

  28. If I didn’t have half a sheet cake of birthday cake and an entire apple pie sitting on my kitchen table, I would totally make this. Your son is absolutely adorable. It’s ridiculous. SO CUTE.

  29. Angelica

    Apple cake!? I just might have to make this for my daughter as her one year old cake – I was looking for something yummy, but not TOO yummy. ha ha!

  30. Saidah

    I just bought some applesauce. Really it is supposed to be for a healthy snack but a spiced applesauce cake sounds a tad bit better!!

    I’m moving to New York in August and your description of fall literally made me squeal! Thank you!!

  31. I love Penzeys and just put in an order. Not cinnamon, because I’m not out of the store stuff yet to justify buying the good stuff, but all of the other things I live on (cumin, I’m looking at you).

  32. Oh this looks wonderful! I recently made an apple cider muffin recipe that used grated apples and really liked the texture it gave. I wonder if that would work in this recipe – maybe with a little buttermilk or apple cider to add moisture?

  33. linda

    very excited about the versatility of this cake…as i was reading your post i was thinking cupcakes & layers…

    little lord gaga…just adorable…what’s his halloween costume?

  34. CM

    A friend got me a Penzey’s baking kit with cinnamon, nutmeg, two kinds of vanilla extract, and a tube of vanilla beans (and it came with a bunch of bay leaves in the package too). It turned me into a convert. You have to try the vanilla, it’s amazing.

  35. Thumper

    Question: Can anyone offer an alternative to the cream cheese frosting? I do not care for it but love cake and would like a special frosting of some other type. Thanks!

  36. Hooray! I was looking for the perfect fall-ish cake-y / cupcake treat to bring to my nephews + niece on halloween! I can’t wait to make these this weekend. THANK YOU!

  37. Maria Myers

    Yes, Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon is incredible. I take my litle jar with me when I go to Ted’s diner to sprinkle on my thick french toast! (The white pepper is fab too, and I put it in just about close to everything…..) The Penzeys live a couple blocks away from me. Just nice folk. My son is a special education student and Penzey’s allows the school district to conduct a job training program at their big warehouse here in Wauwatosa. I always know when my son has been working there – he smells wonderful when he comes home!

  38. Rhonda

    I am still waiting on fall but I will bake applesauce cake soon, after we finish the gingerbread. Love the Penzey’s spices, have been ordering the addicting cinnamon for years and then they opened a store in Dallas – I love that place. Your Jacob is such a happiness child.

  39. meg

    This is one of my favorite simple cakes! I was just thinking about this recipe earlier today and how I ought to make it in the next week or two. I use homemade cinnamon applesauce.

    Also I always called my grandfather Gaga. I couldn’t pronounce grandpa as a kid. Very cute.

  40. Kim

    Oh HELLS to the yeah, Vietnamese cinnamon. I brought back so much of it last time I went to Vietnam. Powdered and curls (for pho-making, natch). I am SO EXCITED to try this recipe with it now!

    1. deb

      SaraQ — I don’t see why you can’t use chunky sauce. If it is all chunks, of course, I might puree it a little.

      cutiefoodie — You could make this cake into a layer cake!

      Monica — You can use an 8-inch round but a 9-inch round is actually closer in volume.

  41. kathy in st louis

    I’d think that apple butter would be a fine substitute for applesauce here, if one cuts back accordingly on the sugar and adds a small amount of water. Spice futzing optional.

    We are die-hard fans of Penzeys because of their quality and price – not to mention that we have lived close to their stores for several years. In fact, I made a special cinnamon sugar for Christmas gifts a few years ago with Penzeys’ goods: vanilla and two kinds of cinnamon mixed into brown and white sugars (with a pinch of salt to balance). Friends and family raved about it.

    Our latest habit has been their Arizona Dreaming, a salt-free seasoning that we use quite frequently.

  42. I had all the ingredients in and a day off, so I made this tonight! It’s amazing! This is the first recipe I’ve tried from your site though I’ve been reading it for a while.

    My guy: “This cake is GREAT!”

    And there you go.

  43. Nicole

    I’m only home in New York for a week in November and I’m completely overloaded with recipes from this site I need to attempt (full disclosure: I’m an amateur college student cook but hey – it’s fun trying). This is definitely in the top tier of the list!

  44. Thank you not only for the recipe, but for the link to Penzeys! I just ordered $50 of spices. I’m so excited! I live in a small town in Oklahoma, so you can imagine my choices are limited to say the least. A small jar of cardamom is $11 at Wal-mart! Your suggested cinnamon was on my list, as well as cardamom (ground and pods), brown mustard seeds, garam masala, star anise, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, whole coriander, whole cloves, smoked paprika, sweet paprika – I’m in heaven!!

  45. I love the smell of Penzey’s! There are a couple of stores in the Minneapolis area, but since we only get there two to three times a year perhaps the aroma of this cake baking would do for now.


  46. first time commenter, long-time reader! first and foremost deb, you have possibly the cutest baby known to mankind. thank goodness i don’t own anything that cute, because i’d never get any work accomplished, due to all of the cheek-squishing i’d be doing. secondly, and more food-related, i wondered if you had any suggestions for another cake that would go well with this delectable cinnamon-cream cheese frosting? i’d eat it by the spoonful, for sure, but i’d like to make myself a birthday cake next week, and just thought i’d ask for your pairing ideas. thanks for all the recipes, hilarious posts, and adorable pics of your baby!

  47. megk

    I will definitely try this cake next week. I make a similar frosting, but add a tablespoon of local honey to it and a bit more cinnamon. Delicious enough to eat on its own.

  48. NYC is simply one of my favorite cities anytime of year. I always feel like I am standing in the middle of the world! Autumn is a beautiful time of year, to open the windows, let the cool air in and cook like you never cooked before :-)

  49. Although I am a passionate baker,but coming from Europe, I have never heard about this cake until now. But what a coincident ! My son brought today the same recipe from school,with the exception of Vietnamese cinnamon,of course. I guess I have no choice,but try it soon.

  50. KitchenMama

    I just finished making applesauce with Johnagolds when I saw your recipe. Needless to say, I made the cake immediately and sent it with the rest of the family to Monday Night Football at a friend’s house. What better pairing in the fall? Football and applesauce cake. Yum!

    BTW, your Mom’s Apple Cake is terrific, too. Both cakes will have top billing around here this fall.

  51. Looks delicious! We just made chevre at home I think I’ll combine it in the frosting.
    Question- you wrote for the frosting: 1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon, did you mean 1/2 tsp if Vietnamese and a full tsp if regular cinnamon? I saw the recipe’s head note suggesting to to use 2/3 of the cinnamon amount if using Vietnamese but this is 1/2. I’m a little confused.

    1. deb

      from the cookery — I mean to use less than what is listed if you’re using a specialized cinnamon. (I assume people use ordinary ingredients.)

  52. Oh dear. I’ve almost always been intimidated by baking, but this is one where I really want to just jump in and start baking! That simple block of moist cake, that droopy swirl of cheese frosting that’s holding it together so regally … gobsmacking.

  53. Morgan

    The recipe looks awesome. But really? The killer was that smile, with the dimples showing through. What an awesome picture of your little guy.

  54. ho HO!! we just so happen to have 400 gallons (kidding. sort of) of homemade apple sauce in the deep freeze, AND a trip to Penzey’s on the week’s agenda.

    That cinnamon is the bomb, isn’t it? Yeah, no idea why, but theirs is not to question why, just, you know, inhale.

    oh, yum.

  55. Jo

    Being an avid reader of both yours and certain other Parisian-dwelling writer’s blogs, I read your entry whilst thinking about who ele had mentioned Vietnamese Cinnamon lately….Not meaning to appear rude of course, it just made me smile …

  56. Marcia

    ..and if you liked the Penzey’s cinnamon, you will LOVE the “baking spice”.. a blend of 2 kinds of cinnamon, aniseed, allspice, mace and cardamom..all those sweet spice overtones , I use it sometimes instead of cinnamon..(especially in streusel toppings) and people go crazy not knowing exactly what the taste is, but loving it. The store in Grand Central is nice to have, but as others have said.. you really need to go to Wisconsin and sail the mother ship… every time I visit, I come back suitcase full..try the double strength vanilla.

  57. Oh, this both looks and sounds fantastic! Hands down, fall is _the_ season for spice cake, which is only one of its many charms. Thank you, as always, for sharing! :)

  58. This looks so dreamy and delicious. My boyfriend LOVES anything with apples/apple sauce so I have a couple questions – If I want to make this in a round pan, what size would you suggest? And do you think a spring form or bundt pan would work?

  59. I am at my first year at college right now and missing New York so much. Your post had me missing everything I love about my home–the leaf-carpeted sidewalks slick with recent rain, the crispness of the air, the sight of small children in bulky backpacks filled with freshly sharpened crayola colored pencils. Also my oven, and my spice cupboard, and the Union Square farmers market, and everything else necessary to truly make this cake.
    Nevertheless, we’ll find out this weekend whether my dorm kitchen is up to the challenge, because this applesauce cake is most definitely getting made!

  60. Gabby

    Oh mY GOODNESS!! Al these deliciously applely things have got me SO inspired!! If i didnt have to go to school tomorrow I would stay up all night baking them but unfortunately education calls.):
    oh and speaking of inspiration the fabulous monkey cake has inspired me to make a chocolate monster cake (modled off of it) for my little brothers 4th b-day next week! I can’t wait!!

  61. It’s like you read my mind!

    I was looking around for apple cake recipes but am not a fan of the chunky ones. This is perfect, with cream cheese frosting to top it all off. Am going to bake two round layers with more frosting in between. *grins*

  62. anaheeta

    Hi Deb, I’ve got to be your biggest fan from India! The minute your latest post pops up, I am in the kitchen trying it out! Getting all the ingredients here is always a challenge….but i love to experiment! That brings me to Cream Cheese – what can i use to substitute it – yoghurt? Cottage cheese? Please throw up some ideas!

  63. Living in the northern hemisphere for the first time and think I’m finally getting what REAL apples are all about… this cake looks amazing. And seriously, how much personality is squeezed into that little man? Makes my ovaries go pitty-pat.

  64. I wish I could be there! In Rome, fall=rain. So does winter and spring for that matter. And I wouldn’t know where to apple pick around here! I’ll have to check out Penzey’s next time we’re home!

  65. Lorraine need to make this before berry season arrives. Sending this from Sydney Australia where the weather today was 26 deg (76) Get.a.move.on Lorraine!

  66. Well you said you wouldn’t believe me, but October in the mountains of North Carolina has got to be better! All you described, plus towering blankets of fiery color everywhere you turn! ;) Maybe you need to come visit Asheville to see!

    The apple cake looks outstanding–so moist and I love that thick layer of cream cheese frosting! Gorgeous!

  67. Travels4Food

    I ADORE Penzeys and am so glad you gave it a plug here. Their smoky salt is spectacular on popcorn (and even on watermelon for a really cool contrast), their Greek seasoning makes turkey burgers into something worth eating, and their Chili 9000 is possibly the best chili powder mix I’ve ever tried. Thanks, Deb.

  68. jojo

    OK, as I was reading the post approaching the cinnamon rave, I was hoping you were going to introduce the gorgeous Vietnamese spice!
    Have you tried a sprinkle onto your palm just to taste it on the tip of your tongue? It possesses a sharp yet delightful sweetness.
    Want even more fun for your taste buds? Go ahead and get the Indonesian cinnamon as well, and have a taste comparison…figure out where you would add each one…ahhh…
    the subtle pleasures of flavors…
    And, yeah, that Mexican vanilla is absolutely divine!
    Thanks for offering foodie indulgence – I love this stuff!

  69. Christine

    Yummm!! DH’s birthday is coming up and he loves spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Not sure I can wait almost 2 weeks to make it!!

  70. Ellen

    Oh man, I have a Penzey’s spices where I live. I should bike over there and grab some of the vietnamese cinnamon (and also replace some other things in the kitchen). This looks so delicious, and between that and the apples the fruit stand next door has, it’s going to happen soon.

  71. Kelly

    I’m pretty excited to make this today. Even though I can’t frost half of it because the boyfriend refuses to eat ANYTHING with cream cheese in it… Grumble.

  72. Thank you so much for the Do Ahead little section at the end. It is so nice to know how to store and how long the things will last. This cake looks lovely. I just made your mom’s apple cake, but in muffin form…. kind of hard to get out of the muffin pans, but the cake is super moist and the addtion of the orange juice was lovely. I will have to try this apple cake out as well…loving the fall as well.

  73. Callie

    I am making these tonight!
    I grew up on an apple orchard in VA and 2 weekends ago my sister got married. My mom and granny made apple sauce for the reception and I have quarts of delicious homemade applesauce in my freezer. It is so good, but I’ve been thinking about whether I could make some of it into cupcakes to bring into the office and share. (I’ve found that cupcakes seem to be easier to share with people than cakes in my office at least) Deb, it’s like you read my mind with this recipe!

  74. I have very fond memories of an applesauce cake my grandmother used to make, but it didn’t have frosting. I never made hers, but this sounds like the same spices. Speaking of spices, I just made a trip to Penzey’s here in Santa Monica and spent 15 minutes smelling the cinnamons. Ended up with the Penzey’s mixture. I couldn’t decide! Last time I bought the Chinese, I think. The black pepper I bought is so strong, you have to be careful. But the best thing I’ve gotten there (other than cinnamon) is their cumin and cumin seeds. Much fresher and stronger than an Indian market!

  75. Kaitlin

    So, of course as soon as this was posted I ran right out to the grocery store to grab the ingredients. I have a quick question….is Saigon Cinnamon the same as Vietnamese Cinnamon? My store had Saigon (which is what I purchased), but not the other.

  76. Judy

    I just finished making and freezing about 15 cups of apple pie filling which is already sweetened. Could I use that in place of the applesauce and cut back on the brown sugar? The filling is made with brown sugar. I can’t wait to try this as cupcakes. You’re recipes are always wonderful.

  77. Ginger

    It must be serendipity I was just looking through my Penzeys catalog and getting ready to place an online order and decided to check my email first. I have been using their China Cinnamon and will now try the Vietnamese. Penzeys has been my primary source for spices for years I highly recommend.

  78. Jen

    I was just thinking about making an apple dessert and this looks perfect! I have a bunch of apples left over from orchard picking. This looks so good with the cream cheese frosting. Can I use diced apples or should I make applesauce for the recipe?

  79. I made the applesauce from the Smitten Baby site and will make the cake today. Good thing the recipe doesn’t call for more applesauce, because I can’t keep my spoon out of it! I will never understand why anyone would want to add sugar to applesauce, using a good apple delivers such naturally sweet results. I used half honey crisp and half pink lady. AMAZING!!! Even warm, it was delicious, like apple pie without the crust.

  80. Krista G

    Hi Deb –

    I am a big fan of Penzey’s and agree that their Vietnamese cinnamon is worth the trouble of ordering online! I can definitely taste a difference…

    Now did you actually ask the experts at Penzey’s about Aleppo pepper? Because I’ve that that stuff in my cabinet for a while and am dying to use it!

  81. Beth

    Hi Deb

    How many cups of applesauce does your First Applesauce recipe yield? Eyeballing how many apples are rolling around in the fridge and trying to figure out how many cakes I can make….hmmm…Thanks!

    1. deb

      Beth — I completely messed up when I was measuring it but tells me it will yield about 4 cups. Which, obviously, means you’ll have to make this cake at least twice.

  82. nan

    It’s always a toss-up as to what is more beautiful…your desserts or Little Lord Gaga…but he wins every time! Seriously adorable!! We’re planning on coming to NYC in Dec – would love to meet the little Lord in person!? And you’re definitely right about Vietnamese cinnamon – Bern brought me back a vat of it from Vietnam on his last trip – it was almost worth the price of his ticket! This is going into my “to make” pile – gosh, I hope I live long enough to make everything in there! xo, Nan

  83. Elizabeth

    Just made this!! Its super yummy although I did not have any cloves so I added a little pumpkin spice and i only had a cup of apple sauce so I added some oil. I think for me I’d like a little more spice but the cloves may have taken care of that and homemade applesauce would have been lovely but jarred is what I had in the house. I got really worried about the curdled look but when I read on was reassured!!
    Thanks deb here in Chicago today with 50 mile an hour winds we didn’t have much to do so my little helper and I have a yummy post nap treat!

  84. laurie

    Took the suggestion from Dale (#118) and used canned pumpkin since that’s all I had in the house. I substituted two tbs. olive oil/two tbs. canola oil for half the butter. With your mom’s apple cake in mind, which only uses oil, next time I’ll try it without butter. I thought it might not be sweet enough so I added an extra 1/4 cup sugar. No other substitutions. It’s moist and delicious with a strong pumpkin flavor. I’m going to give it a powdered sugar glaze since it could use some more sweetness (and to keep my promise to my doctor to cut back on the butter and cream cheese.) The house smells sooo good!

  85. Deb! You are feeding my Penzey’s obessesion! Not good! Well, ok, very good – fantastic, actually. But as it is I have more Penzey’s jars than I know what to do with and I keep ordering more. But I’m going to stop whining now because we all know I’m going right home to order Vietnamese cinnamon! And when it arrives I will make applesauce cake.

    Oh, and by the way – the Penzey’s Aleppo pepper? Awesome! Perfect for yogurt-marinated chicken kebabs. I even like it for roasted carrots – sounds weird, tastes great!

  86. Shari

    I have been looking for THE applesauce spice cake. This just may be it. I’ve also been meaning to purchase some Vietnamese cinnamon, since it’s what everyone seems to be going “gaga” over recently. I am curious as to why it also seems that everyone takes their cake out of the pan? I have always left mine right in the pan it was baked in. I must’ve learned to bake the hillbilly way. : ) I mean, it probably does cool faster out of the pan (and now that I think about it, I always take breads out of the loaf pans for this reason), but how do you store the cake once removed from it’s pan?

  87. What a great looking dessert. What are your thoughts on a layer of sliced apples in this cake? It looks so light and moist! Will it hold up to this addition?

  88. Having just foolishly purchased pounds and pounds of gorgeous CT farmer’s market apples with absolutely no idea what I would do with them or when on earth I would find the time (second week back to work after maternity leave), I now have a solution.

    I. Must. Make. This. Cake.

    With homemade applesauce.


    Time/sleep be damned! This cake sounds SO yummy and simple…

  89. jojo

    Thanks for your stroke of genius, France! (#174)

    How about baking some apple slices (just like the ones in the apple cheddar scones!), and spiraling them over the cream cheese icing?!?

    It’s gotta be gorgeously delicious!!!!

    Everyone rocks on this site!

  90. Laura

    I knew I had to make this immediately after seeing the recipe. I made them as cupcakes last night and they were a HUGE hit at the office today! Definitely a go-to recipe for fall!

  91. BarbaraFL

    This takes me back as this was one of the first cakes I ever made and I can almost taste it from your great picture. Yumm. One of those comforting desserts. I’m going to make this later in the week. Thanks!

  92. Kat

    Quick question for you: your baked goods always seem to appear evenly cooked and legitimately golden brown like they should be. Our oven has gone to oven heaven and we’re looking into a new one. Would mind sharing what kind of oven you have and/or any recommendations? Ours is a oven with gas range on top. I know this is probably an odd question, but any recommendation would be great.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. deb

      Kat — Haaa. I have probably the cheapest G&E oven on earth. I live in a rental. I don’t choose these things. Also, it’s 2/3 the size of a standard oven. That said, some ovens seem to top-brown better than others. When I had one that did not, my trick to make sure the “tops” got cooked were to put it on the very top rack towards the end; the heat that bounced off the roof of the oven seemed to help. Other trick: Keeping it on a lower or middle rack and putting an empty baking sheet over it. It seems to have a similar heat-bouncing effect.

      Sabrina — No reason you cannot bake it in other pans. It will work just fine.

  93. Kelsey

    Okay, so I’m a few minutes away from turning this into a coffee cake with that sort of yummy cinnamon sugar layer in the middle. Possibly including toasted hazelnuts chopped up in there as well instead of the walnuts. I’ll let you know how it goes! :) And I’ve also been thinking about how to incorporate chocolate into this. No need, I’m just an addict.

  94. cupcakes

    Dear Deb,
    I am feeling especially smitten this week. I made Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic the other night and it was heavenly. I don’t think I’ve ever had chicken so juicy and flavorful… I’m salivating as I type about it. I also made Winter Squash Soup, and it was a perfect complement to the start of 6 straight months of rain that the PacNW will be dumping on me. (6 months is me being optimistic). Then yesterday, I saw this recipe while I was at work, and I couldn’t go home and NOT make it. My boyfriend ate it for dessert and then again for breakfast. Even my roommate, who has a phobia of cooked fruit, was in love. Tonight after work, I’m going to carve a pumpkin and try not to polish off the rest of the cake in one sitting. Thanks for reminding me why I still love fall (despite all that rain!)

  95. DanielleS

    This cake came together like a dream and was utterly blissful smelling while in the oven! I can’t wait to dig into our dessert tonight! Thanks for the post, Deb!

  96. One of the grocery stores I go to has a really great bulk spice section. I’ve noticed Vietnamese cinnamon there before, and will have to try it now! Definitely wouldn’t mind trying it with this cake…looks and sounds divine!

  97. Anna

    Just curious–my hubby is not a fan of cream cheese frosting but LOOOOOOVES applesauce. Do you have any suggestions for a substitute frosting that might be yummy??

  98. Praj

    I made this cake today (without the icing) and its vanished already! Over the past few months I’ve made quite a few recipes from your blog and absolutely love each one of them. Thank you so much! :-)



  99. fabulous!! and funny to see your 1 and 2 years ago posts… i’ve made the cauliflower dish (loved) and just posted a version of the salted caramel sauce (amazing)!!

  100. G

    Made this last night and liked it very much. I found all the flavors not intense enough though, so will increase them all next time. And is there any way of making the cream cheese frosting a little thicker and not so sweet?
    I’m also unbelievably grateful that you put the weights in: thanks so much.

  101. Kathie

    Made this with your applesauce yesterday.

    Both proved to be a HUGE success in the house with the kiddos. We’re eating it sans frosting – this way we can pretend it’s a bread and have it for breakfast. ;)

  102. Kelsey

    Coffeecake was a success. And it’s even better this morning :)
    Everything on here is fantastic; keep up the good work!
    Thank you!

  103. Lisa

    This is just what I needed. I will also second the Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon. It is unbelievable, as is the dutch cocoa. I love that store. I spend way too much money every time I visit.

    By the way, your baby makes me want another one. Just a little. I’m sure it will pass!

  104. Oh fantastic! I am making this one!And thank you for the Vietnamese cinammon tip. How exciting. I grew up in Greece where cinnamon is often used in meat dishes. I wonder what Vietnamese cinammon would do to my pasta sause!:)

  105. KatieFace

    You know, in my 7-ish years of living in NYC, I think I have enjoyed this October the most. The weather has been absolutely delicious.

    This recipe looks divine. Now, I just have to decide whether to make it or pumpkin bread pudding or pumpkin cupcakes for my pot luck tomorrow night! Which do you think is most likely to be a crowd-pleaser?

  106. Jen

    I was in New York last week and I totally agree. Especially loved the fall market at Madison Square. Also, thanks for mentioning Kalustyans way back when (chana masala post?)–their spice collection was amazing and I finally found amchoor powder!

  107. oh geez. now i have to decide between the pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting and these for my Scary Movie Party on Friday. any votes are wecome! thanks deb.

  108. Jennifer

    I read this recipe Monday, and just had to bake it. My husband’s birthday was Tuesday, and he gave me a half-hearted “okay… applesauce cake sounds kind of weird, but go ahead if you want” to make it as his birthday cake. My cooked fruit-phobia husband adored it. Thanks for a great fall cake that I think has just become his new go-to birthday cake. :)

  109. Crystal

    Wow! I made this cake last night and wasn’t particularly fond of it. Cut it into squares, packed it up in Tupperware and brought six pieces to work…I ate one at work and the flavor was not only better but the spices had intensified. My husband is going to be thrilled when he comes home tonight to find this. Spice cake is his favorite. It’s also extremely easy to make and I will definitely add this to my repertoire.

  110. Ingrid klein

    I iwll try to make this…sound really good!!
    Do you think I can use the same recipe with pumpkin sauce intead of applesauce?? Just asking :)

  111. Kaija

    I had been wanting to make this, and I also needed a creative cupcake idea for a friend’s birthday tomorrow, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and made spiced applesauce cupcakes… I baked them at 375 for 15 minutes(ish) and they turned out really well! Great recipe- super moist, and I love the spices! Yet another Smitten Kitchen recipe I will most certaintly come back to.

  112. annie

    I love this recipe & plan on making it soon. I’m curious as to how you adapted the original recipe from the Gourmet site. I’ve made that cake before & after just glancing at your recipe it doesn’t seem different at all. Can you explain the adaptation(s)?


  113. deb

    Hi Annie — I noted that the recipe is “barely” adapted from Gourmet. Their recipe works almost perfectly as originally written. That said, I tweaked a bunch of things. I noted how curdly the batter will look, because it freaked me out. I suggested a parchment paper lining because I used a nonstick pan and it almost stuck. I reduced the baking time because both times I made this, it was done at 35 minutes, not the 40 to 45 that were suggested. I also converted the measurements to grams and ounces, and added a bunch of headnotes like how long the cake should keep, how you can make your own applesauce or pear sauce and how to use a more intense cinnamon. Hope that helps.

  114. annie

    Yes, that does help. I did notice the “barely” after I left my comment. Sorry! I will definitely make the changes you suggest & look forward to making this delicious cake for my family. Thank you.

    1. deb

      No problem. I never know how much detail to go into about changes, without sounding excessively OCD. More or less, I’m adjusting recipes to what I experienced, giving you heads-up where I wished I had them. On a good recipe. On a bad one, I nearly throw it out before writing you a better one. :)

  115. Missy

    I made this cake yesterday . . . it is simply divine! Believe it or not, it’s even better the next day . . .can’t wait until tomorrow! I didn’t have unsweetened applesauce on hand but had regular cinnamon applesauce. Amazingly enough, the cake didn’t turn out too sweet. Hubby loves cinnamon so I figured the extra cinnamon wouldn’t be a bad thing. Thanks Deb for a keeper . . . also I really enjoy seeing your curly haired, dark eyed, totally ADORABLE Smitten Kitchen Manager!

  116. Pam

    Ah-mazing. You were right, I’m already scheming for “excuses” to make this cake ASAP. I made your applesauce for the first time as well and fell in love with my first taste of homemade sauce. I didn’t have ground ginger on hand (but I do now for my next batch) so I subbed in nutmeg and it was wonderful. I also cooked it in a well greased 8X8 glass pan and served it in the pan to no ill-affect since the family practically devoured it in one sitting.
    G- If you don’t want the frosting as sweet, I made it with 8oz of cream cheese because I love the tang. I always add the sugar gradually and sample while I whip so it doesn’t get too sweet, but I found 1 cup to be perfect for this recipe. To put a little more volume into it, just leave it in the fridge for a bit and give it another whip before you frost.

  117. First of all…a Penzey’s STORE? I get the mail-order catalog…but a store! That sounds dreamy!

    I made a cake almost exactly like this last night – Instead of the applesauce it had pumpkin, though. The rest of the recipe was very similar and looks the same when done (with that lovely pillowy “duvet” of cream cheese on top!). I would think a person could swap applesauce for pumpkin in this recipe come Halloween night for a nice baked treat!

  118. Natalie

    I made this cake last night in a loaf pan and it sank in the middle after taking it out of the oven. Any suggestions to prevent this from happening again? I haven’t tasted it yet because I made it for friend, but it sure smelled good in the oven.

  119. JoanV

    I made this cake yesterday for my birthday. My husband offered to make it himself, but since the only dishes in his culinary repertoire are boxed macaroni and cheese and an interesting dish called”boy scout stew”, I lovingly nixed the idea.
    Anyway, the cake was utterly delicious. Deb, thanks for this recipe that made a perfect birthday even more perfect(er).

  120. Thanks for this recipe Deb! My 4 yr old son announced the other night that today was party day at his preschool and could I please make something yummy to eat for it. So I whipped this up – making it gluten free – added in 1 c brown rice flour and 1 c bob’s mill gluten free flour mix, doubled the baking powder and soda and added 1 tsp xanthan gum – oh and used pear sauce in place of the apple sauce (filled my slow cooker with pears and a titch of water and cooked for a day – yum) and this cake was amazing (I picked crumbs out to taste). The cinnamon in the frosting is genius. I’m hoping there will be some left when I pick up my shark this afternoon but I think that might not happen – may have to make one just for us at home.

  121. I made it. I replaced the cream cheese with mascarpone, and i’m not 100 happy about how the frosting came out (it did not have the spreadable, creamy consistency that you would expect), but it tasted great. The cake is to die for. We won’t be able to research if it keeps well.

  122. Killian

    Deb, thank you for this! I needed cupcakes, but I am not usually a frosting fan. They’re all cloyingly sweet such that I scrape 95% off and then eat the cupcake. I added some allspice and nutmeg to the cake batter, and jacked the Vietnamese cinnamon a smidge. In the frosting, I also jacked the vanilla and the cinnamon such that my frosting was tinged/no longer white. The flavor was sublime. Not overly sweet, perfectly creamy and light, and it pairs perfectly with the apple-spice flavors in the cake.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  123. Mindy

    I made this today with some applesauce I made earlier in the week. I added a little maple syrup to the frosting in place of some of the sugar. It was fabulous!! I was taking dinner to a friend and shared half with her. I’m guessing the rest will be gone tomorrow. A big hit with grown-ups and little people, alike. Thanks for another great recipe.

  124. laurie

    After trying this with pumpkin two days ago, I decided to give it a go with bananas since we still don’t have applesauce in the house, and my bananas were beyond sad. Swapped butter for oil–1/4 cup olive and 1/4 cup canola. I left out the cloves and upped the cinnamon. It’s a winner! My only change if making it again with bananas would be to cut back on the sugar because I think it’s a little too sweet. Instead of cream cheese frosting, I plan to give it a glaze made with powdered sugar and milk. For the walnuts, which I love, but my husband dislikes because of their texture, I have a trick. After putting them in a baggie, I gently pound them with a mallet until they are well-flattened. Then I add them to the flour mixture and give it a whisk. Lots of flavor without the chunks. Next time, I’ll make it with applesauce–promise!

  125. Stephanie

    Thank you for adding the alternative weights to your recipes. I am an American living in Europe so although I do have my American measuring cups and spoons for my American recipes, I found using my kitchen digital scale for weighing ingredients more accurate (and also UK and European recipes are in ounces and grams).
    With that said, I made your cake this morning. The 2cups of flour that you have as 250gms, weighed in at 325gms on my scale, and at 11.5oz, not 8.75oz as in the recipe. Also, 1/2 tsp is closer to 2gms and 3.4tsp is 3 gms. The rest worked out fine. I hope this helps your other fans living outside the US.
    The applesauce was great – my first batch.
    Also, I replaced the butter with 1/2c of oil.
    The cakes is sitting on the table now, looking beautiful and I am expecting it to taste as good as it looks.
    Steph in London

  126. katie

    Oh for heaven’s sake, there were already 4 other apple recipes on this site I’ve been meaning to try. I’ll just add this to the list :)

  127. Diana

    So so good! I made it last night, and I think that this is something I’ll make again. Perhaps with the addition of shredded coconut next time…!

  128. Looks wonderful!! I’m going to try to double this recipe to make cupcakes today. It looks like one recipe fits easily into a 8 or 9 in. sq. pan, but I’m thinking that with 4 cups of flour it might make more than 24 cupcakes? I’m happy to report back if anyone is interested in the results!

  129. Lisa

    Made this last night and it’s fantastic. Can’t wait to try it today–from other comments, it sounds like it will be even better. I think this is one of those cakes you can modify endlessly without managing to destroy it. My applesauce has cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt, and I didn’t find the spice balance in the cake to be off at all. Next time I’ll try it with 1/2 whole wheat flour (or perhaps some oats!) and sub canola for the butter.

  130. Meg

    Hi Deb,

    This looks great! I was wondering if you could suggest how much to cut down the brown sugar in this recipe. I have a gorgeous homemade applesauce I purchased at a local orchard, but it is sweetened. I’d hate to ruin a good recipe by making it too sweet!

    I am curious to try this with vegan ingredients (shortening, egg replacer, soy cream cheese) for my son, who has severe dairy and egg allergies. I’ll let you know if it is edible — my last egg-free attempt went straight into the bin!

  131. Kristin

    I just made this and it is unbelievably delish! I couldn’t even wait to put the frosting on before I ate a piece! So good. Thank you for the wonderful recipes.

  132. SBR

    YAY! I’ve been wanting a recipe that will highlight that spicy Vietnamese cinnamon and I’m making this RIGHT NOW. Just got back with 5 lbs of apples from Union Sq and I’m so excited. ps: My other favorite thing from Penzey’s is their Mexican Vanilla. They say it’s best in cooking and chocolaty things, I think, but I like it in everything. Thanks for this Deb.

  133. Katie

    I’m so excited to make this, but I do have a question. The list of ingrediants for frosting reads “1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon”. I’m confused – is that a typo and the 1 teaspoon is supposed to be a weight? Or is it meant to say that it’s up to us how much cinnamon to put in the frosting? Thanks!

  134. I made this last night and it turned out spectacularly! My applesauce was pretty heavily spiced already (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, dash of cayenne), so I skipped all but a pinch of cloves. The applesauce had raisins, as well, which worked out well in the cake. I didn’t frost it – all the better to eat for breakfast this morning! Thanks!

  135. Randle

    Deb, This is the best website ever.

    This cake was absolutely delicious, as are all of your recipes, so far. And I sprinkled the cinnamon on top instead of mixing it in to the icing. It was cute! It tasted great with half wheat flour, too. And my boyfriend demands it in layer cake form next time for a better cake to icing ratio in each bite. :)

  136. Erin

    I made this for my 2 year old’s birthday cake. He is an applesauce loving fool. He’s still gobbling it up and making his yummy sounds. Thanks for the recipe!

  137. I literally had some people on the way over to help me make cheddar apple scones when you posted this new recipe (we had just gone apple picking the day before). So I threw on some apples for applesauce and when they got here I said, “Surprise! We’re making cake too!” It was great. I have to say that the scones were my favorite, but everyone else preferred the cake…it was gone in 24 hours.

  138. Jaclyn

    Amazing amazing amazing. One of the best things I have ever made. This coming from someone that believes all desserts should contain chocolate. I did not change a single thing – it was perfect. I even used your applesauce recipe (never made applesauce from scratch before), although it was really pear-applesauce since I didn’t have enough apples alone. I am still eating the leftover applesauce, which is also delicious. I had gone on vacation a week or so ago and had to freeze a bunch of apples and pears so they wouldn’t spoil while I was gone and they worked perfectly for the applesauce. I am already trying to come up with a reason to make it again, and I still have half the cake left.

    Oh – and I used a glass 8×8 dish which seemed to make a pretty deep cake, and it took about 45 minutes to cook all the way through. And I buttered it (with no parchment) and it didn’t stick at all!

  139. Alison

    Delicious!!! I made them into cupcakes and they are amazing. The only change I had to make was to use a gluten free flour mixture as I recently found out I have celiac disease. I have been playing around with different flour mixtures and as baking with celiac is a little scary (as is the whole disease to be honest), but this sounded so delicious I just had to try and it you couldn’t even tell it was made with a gluten free flour mixture. Thanks for the great, as always, recipe! Happy Halloween!

  140. Sally

    Made this today and LOVED the cake. The frosting was too sweet for me (and this is from someone who normally eats just frosting from a cake) so next time I’ll sift some powdered sugar on it and call it a day…

  141. Chiara

    This cake welcomes in fall! I made your homemade applesauce recipe for this cake and my girls polished off the remaining applesauce before the cake was even in the oven. Thanks, yet again, for sharing!!

  142. Kat

    So I love that Smitten Kitchen cooks seasonally – but when you live on the other side of the world it does make life interesting! Although, lets be honest, given my rather dismal baking attempts for date, I think I might need to start at the beginning! So my question Deb is what is the very easiest and most impossible to screw up cake on Smitten Kitchen?

  143. Ellen

    Made this cake for a Friday night get together and it was a major hit all around – kids, parents, grandparents! Thanks for another great recipe. Love your blog and can’t wait for the book!!!

  144. Applesauce: Jonagold and Braeburn. Mucked about with the recipe: 1/4 cup whole wheat, replaced some of the butter with 1 Tbs olive oil, only 1 1/4 cup applesauce as it was very wet. Added a quarter-cup chopped dried apples. Decided to sprinkle the walnuts over the top, to give a finished look, and realized halfway through that I was supposed to frost it! (I so seldom make an iced cake that I totally forgot, despite having the cream cheese softening.) The cake came out high, light, and nicely structured (a relief after several wet and sticky cakes), with a pleasant spice tinge, but not very apple-y. I am accustomed to apple cake & apple bread with chunks of apple, and I guess I missed this. Adding a tablespoon of apple brandy or cider, cooking the applesauce more so it’s drier and I can use more, adding more dried apples all might bring out the apple flavor. Right now maybe I’ll try whisking up a little bit of the cream cheese frosting with a touch of that brandy and see how that works on a slice or two.

  145. Thank you for this recipe! Going in the ‘keep forever’ file, as is the applesauce – both of which I made over the last few days. I made cake into cupcakes, which yielded 14 large cupcakes. Only thing I ‘changed’: I doubled the frosting because I’m a frosting person (when it comes to cupcakes). It was piled high, and I had some leftover. Thank you for a perfect halloween weekend treat for my family and me!

  146. Torie

    Yum yum! Made this cake for the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last. We loved everything about it. Adding it to my ever growing collection of smitten kitchen recipes that are always winners. Thanks Deb!

  147. Kristin T

    I believe the cinnamon typo corrected should be- 1/2 tsp (1 gram).
    @ Jenny, my frosting is the same way. I came here looking to see if any comments about that…

  148. Esther

    I made this yesterday and it was extremely well received (one of our guests even left with a big chunk of it in a tupperware). I had some for breakfast this morning and thought it tasted even better than yesterday. Am already thinking up excuses to make it again – thank you!

  149. Maria

    I made this cake on Saturday night and it is pretty mich gone already. My husband and his best friend loves it. The cream cheese flosting is fantastic and I will use it in place of all other cream cheese flosting recipes.

  150. Mike B

    Nice recipe – nice result! Made my own applesauce with Galas and very liberal splashes of black cherry bourbon and OJ. All in had in the larder was Australian candied ginger; a bit of knife work reduced it to very tiny flakes. Made it Halloween day and serving it to the work crew on Dia de los Muertos. Thanks for a good site.

  151. Paula

    Yum! First time visitor and was lured in by the spice cake recipe and all the pleased comments. My cake is baking away as I post, frosting ingredients await, but alas I will not be cutting into the cake until tomorrow evening. With all the comments about the flavors deepening over time I decided to make this a day ahead. Am looking forward to licking the beaters however when I put the frosting together. Have added this blog to my feed, here’s to future deliciousness, thank you!

  152. Kelly


    I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on my making cupcakes out of this? Any reason why it wouldn’t work?



  153. Cheryl

    Deb, I made two of these cakes, one for family and one for my son’s middle school teachers catered lunch. My house smelled heavenly and the cake is so crazy good I am making another one tonight. Thank you for a wonderful site!

  154. Piapie

    I made the cake last night and am hoping that it will last in our house for 3 days! I’d love to hear your thoughts on Kelly’s comment regarding making cupcakes out of these.

  155. Susan

    Hi Deb – I have been enjoying recipes from your site for almost a year, so first of all, thanks for such an entertaining, user-friendly and cook-friendly website. Like many others, I first look for Jacob’s latest photo; he is so adorable!
    I have used “Saigon” cinnamon for the last 3 years in all my baking and cooking. It makes cinnamon bread that is outstanding; so rich, sweet and cinnnamon-y! I first found it at Costco (now I see it in many stores) but it is very reasonably priced at the big box places compared to the site you referenced. Just an FYI for the more budget-minded consumer…

  156. Chiara

    You were right! I made this on Saturday and found an excuse to make it again today. I added the walnuts this time but didn’t get to taste since it was the perfect welcome to the neighborhood cake for new family just moved in.

  157. deb

    Making this cake into cupcakes — I mention in comment #27 that I think these would make excellent cupcakes. That you’ll be the hit of the party. But don’t take it from me, looks like a few commenters (179, 190, 211, 229, 249, 257, wow) already tried it!

  158. Amy

    This cake is really easy and really awesome. A new fall staple to be sure. 8×8 glass pan worked perfectly. Trying it in layer cake form next time. More to love. Fanned 5 or 6 thin slices of apple on the top for aesthetics.

  159. Christyna

    Deb!! This was awesome, awesome yuminess! My husband pretty much ate the whole cake by himself. I even made homemade applesauce, using your recipe, with my farmers’ market apples. A perfect fall recipe! Next time, I’m making this recipe as cupcakes and taking it to my kid’s classroom.

  160. Paula

    Made this on Monday to take to a friend’s house for dessert on Tuesday. Followed directions except that I did not have any cloves on hand, subbed nutmeg. Cake baked just fine at thirty five minutes and easily came out of pan. Oh, and I did add a chopped Granny Smith apple to the mix. made a cream cheese frosting that another post had included, adding in the cinnamon (to die for). The cake had a lovely crumb but I found it a little lacking in flavor and thought it was slightly dry. Definitely thought it needed more apples. Will try again. (Kept in fridge, frosted, overnight.)

  161. Becky

    Made this gluten and egg free. Used a combination of brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch, along with adding 1 tsp of xanthan gum. I did not adjust the baking powder and soda like a previous commenter did – I didn’t find it necessary. In place of the 2 eggs, I used 1 egg equivalent of flaxseed sub and 1 egg equivalent of Ener G Egg replacer.
    The cake needed to bake slightly longer than in the recipe, but it rose well and had a great crumb and texture. It stayed good for 3-4 days.
    Overall, a GREAT cake for being gluten and egg free – the applesauce helps it maintain great texture.

  162. Kelley

    I made this cake tonight… ate while it was cool enough to frost, but still slightly warm. Heavenly! It was an easy cake that turned out perfectly!

  163. Rene Taylor

    OMG I just made this cake today and it was Da Bomb! My family loved it. I have been feeding my family your recipes for a little over a year now and you are a goddess of real good and often fancy food (that I can make). I Use the cream biscuit recipe to make pizza every friday ( it might sound thick but we are Chicagoans that is how we like it). Just want to say thank you for making me look like I was born to cook good food.

  164. Kristin G

    I made this cake twice this past week… once with the frosting and once without. Both amazing, tons of compliments. I used homemade applesauce (for those of you who haven’t yet, please make homemade applesauce, you will never go back!!) My favorite was eating this cake for breakfast with my coffee! Thanks so much for posting, this will become a fall in NYC staple for me.

  165. Elise

    Awesome recipe, thank you so much for sharing this with us! :)

    I do have a question though—is it possible to substitute the butter with more applesauce or will that compromise the cake entirely?

  166. John

    I made this cake last weekend and it was delicious; I kept slicing little pieces with the thought that i wasn’t eating much of it. Did you know that six little pieces makes two big pieces? Yeah, me too.

  167. They sell the Vietnamese cinnamon a Kalustyan’s. We did a taste test and everyone agreed that the normal store-bought cinnamon tasted like dirt in comparison!!

  168. Stacey

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I am working on my Thanksgiving menu and was thinking about this cake as a side dish (sans frosting, of course). We’ll have 7 kids at dinner under the age of 9 and I thought this might be a nice treat for them. What do you think?

  169. Jess

    This cake was just okay for me. After reading your praise about it, I was so excited. You see, the baked apple and cheddar scones you posted were AMAZING – I’ve made them 3 times. I love the tartness of the apples and the subtle cheese flavor and texture. You made it seem like this would be even better. So, of course, I had to make it.

    The cake is good, don’t get me wrong, I just expected….more. it’s very cinnamon-flavored and I found the cinnamon overpowering the apple. Also, I found the icing a little too sweet. Maybe next time I’ll skip the icing all together and add even more nuts (I’m a firm believer in nuts in baked goods).

  170. Julie

    I made this Friday, and we loved it all weekend (breakfast, tea & dessert after dinner)! While the icing was too strong on day 1, by day 4 (I had my last little square after lunch today), it was perfect – adding a bit of extra moisture and sweetness… Next time, I’ll leave off the icing and only ice it on day 2 or 3 (if I haven’t already gobbled it all up).

  171. This was delicious! So moist and forgiving! Thanks so much for sharing it. I made the applesauce from a mix of Fujis and Granny Smiths, and that’s amazing, too — I’m actually eating it as I type.

  172. Jennifer

    can’t wait to make it – thanks for the recipe and the inspiring fotos! and damned if i didn’t just stock up on bulk cinnamon yesterday, and was scratching my head again as to what the difference is between the 4 different choices of cinnamon are… oh well, i’ll try vietnamese next time…

  173. WatermelonGypsy

    Made this tonight. It was the perfect treat on a cold, rainy, fall evening. I’m new to your blog but do believe I will be a regular reader! Thanks for the recipe.

  174. Elizabeth E.

    I made this as cupcakes for Halloween and dyed the frosting orange. The kids at our Halloween party loved them!

    Last night I was looking to do some baking and I decided to make this again, but this time convert it into a “bread”. I changed the flour to Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and used 1/2 cup light muscovado sugar and 1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar instead of traditional brown sugar. Then, I baked it in a loaf pan for an hour.

    It is a bit more crumbly than the original version, but it was still delicious and I felt good enough about it to serve it to my kids for breakfast this morning. Yum!

  175. sarah

    On account of peoples’ “dry” comments, I added about 2 tablespoons of oil. I made it into cupcakes. They were PERFECT, moist, flavorful, delicious.

  176. JFH Wyoming

    This cake was amazing. I didn’t even adjust the recipie for altitude and it was tasty right out of the oven with no frosting. Then my husband made the frosting the next day and it was even better (or as he said: “this changes everything…” read: “now this is good and not some weird hippy/healthy baked thing”). It was still delicious on the third day too! Thanks.

  177. Jennifer

    I cannot bake. The last time I attempted a “from scratch” cake it tasted like day old bread and to make things worse, it was for someone’s birthday at work! Thankfully I am hard headed and don’t give up on things easily. I read this recipe and thought “Ok, maybe I can do this one”. Well, I did it and it was DELICIOUS!! Am serving it at Thanksgiving this year (hopefully my success was not freakish luck the first time) and you have restored my reputation in the office from “remember when she made that bread cake” to “oh my gosh, will you please make this cake again!!??” Thank you!

  178. LC

    I made this as cupcakes- making the applesauce with whatever type of apple I had from the farmer’s market (Nittany, probably). The apple sauce was great. I will be making that again, for sure. The cake though, I would recommending upping the spices quite a bit if you’re just using regular old grocery store variety spices. I found the frosting more than overwhelmed the flavor of the cupcake, though the cake was moist and decent on its own. But I think this was a good base recipe and I hope to try variations on it in the future!

  179. elisabethd

    Finally had time to make this cake! It was perfectly sweet, moist and spiced. My 8 yr old won’t eat nuts so I sprinkled some on top of the frosting, leaving a small area nut free for him. Can’t wait to have dessert tonight! Or perhaps I’ll enjoy some as an afternoon snack….
    Also, with all this talk of spices I looked at the Penzey’s website and was surprised to learn there is a store about 10 minutes away! Who knew? My holiday baking will never be the same.

  180. catherine

    OK. This is what did it. A three-year smitten lurker, follower, fanatic, secret publicist, and THIS is what finally got me to post: the Best Everyday Cake of All Time. I have made this cake 3 times in the past 2 weeks and can’t get enough. Cut some of the sugar and added a splash of maple syrup, doubled the vanilla and cinnamon, and served it warm with the frosting deliciously gooey. I love, love, love your recipes, writing, and general outlook on life, and I finally had to add my voice to the chorus. Thank you for everything!

  181. T.

    Oh my. I have to add the 300+ comments to say that this cake is insanely delicious, moist, and easy to make. I used homemade sweetened applesauce in the cake so I cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup instead of a full cup. I also halved the cinnamon since my applesauce already had cinnamon. I was concerned that my cake would be too sweet so I decided not to make the frosting. For anyone wondering if the cake is any good without the frosting, it is! I am glad I didn’t frost the cake (and this says a lot because I usually love cream cheese frosting). The subtle sweetness and spice of the cake is perfect on its own. One of my favorite cake recipes on this site!

  182. Jessica

    OK, I seem to be one of the few people (if any?) for whom this did not work out so well. I think, after looking at my mom’s applesauce cake recipe, that this one isn’t as forgiving (less sugar, more eggs) in terms of bake time, and I wasn’t super vigilant, so what I got was dry. I also wonder whether the applesauce I used made a difference– it wasn’t homemade, just store brand unsweetened. So maybe, if you’re using that kind, be sure to use plenty of applesauce and add a little extra sugar. And don’t bake it a second too long.
    The spice taste is great, though, and I used coriander instead of cloves.

  183. ANNE

    I made this Friday for my “I’m not cooking thanksgiving dinner” dinner. It was a piece of you know what to make. I think many applesauce cake recipes tend to be rather heavy and oily, but not this one. It strikes a nice balance between refined cake and spicy-cozy fall dessert. I think I will try this again using almonds and cardamom….maybe for my “I’m not cooking Christmas dinner” dinner!

  184. Steve

    What would you think about penuche frosting? I’ve never known how to pronounce it, but I love it on spice/applesauce/nut cakes in the fall.

  185. ADTirey66

    I am currently making this again for my early Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, and I just want to say how impressed I am with this recipe. The first time I used the recipe, I made a bundt (it’s got a hole in it!) and the ratio of cream cheese icing to cake was PERFECT. My applesauce, however, was so bland that it almost tasted like pumpkin bread, so I made my own for this go around. I have high hopes (and a tasty breakfast from the 1/2 c. of leftover applesauce!). I would like to add my thanks for the gram equivalences since I am ALSO an American living abroad and doing the conversions myself stinks (and I didn’t have any problems with them).

  186. Kate

    This cake is awesome!! I just made it, I added some fresh ground nutmeg because I love nutmeg but no other changes and it came out perfect!!

  187. Martha Hollis

    I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow! I just discovered your site a few days ago, and I love your writing and your recipes. I’m probably the only person I know who doesn’t swoon over cream cheese frosting (or cream cheese in general), but a long-time favorite of mine is spice cake with a quick caramel frosting. I think I’ll double the recipe and make TWO cakes–one with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting (which everyone I know will adore) and one with the quick caramel frosting (for me!). Thanks so much!

  188. I’ve made this twice now – first as directed, in the 8×8 pan; today, in mini-bundt cake forms for Thanksgiving guests (I don’t make pie, I leave that to my mother-in-law). Both times, it has turned out absolutely delicious and perfect. I *know* I need to make homemade applesauce, just one of those things I haven’t made because no one in the house except for me likes applesauce so it’s an effort vs. enjoyment thing, but the organic applesauce I used added a nice flavor. The cinnamon is straight from Savory Spice Shop in Denver, though, so it’s definitely the real thing. My husband, who does not eat cake, keeps sneaking pieces of this one, so I know this is a keeper! I’ve been following your blog for a long time, and I love your explanations and your photos!

  189. Jennifer

    @ Jenny #278, did you use “light” cream cheese? That’s actually a different kind of cheese that may have behaved differently.

  190. I’ve made this cake twice and it has proved a huge hit both times. I don’t have an 8×8 pan, so I have made it in a round 9-inch pan, which has worked out just fine. It has the perfect texture and perfect combination of flavors. And it’s so easy! I’ve been wishing for a one-bowl cake that makes this kind of impact.

  191. Juliet

    This cake is moist (hate that word) and delicious! The frosting is definitely something I’ll use on other spice cakes. I had to use allspice instead of cloves and it was awesome. I will definitely will make it again.

  192. Deb, thank you so much for giving the ingredients in weight as well as volume – it saves so much time for us non-US cooks in checking what volume of which ingredient is what weight. I really appreciate it. Will make this delicious-looking cake with my son tonight!

  193. so I’ve made this cake three times (twice in the past week, for office parties). it is absolutely delicious, and its one of the quickest cakes to throw together. Another great one deb!

  194. A friend recently sent me this recipe from gourmet and I made it one weekend. It is definitely the perfect spice cake for a cool autumn day. I made some slight changes too, but it was only to add more spices (why not?). And the frosting, don’t even get me started on the frosting!

  195. Deb, I made this with a mixture of white & muscovado sugar as it was all I had, & it added a real toffee edge to it. I made it without the frosting & it was still heavenly. I’ve been asked to bring it to a family gathering as an alternative Christmas cake for those who don’t like dried fruit & I think that’s a great idea!

  196. Amanda

    First recipe to make from your website. I could wax rhapsodic about it for quite some time, but I’ll just make this simple and say that it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS and oh-so-moist. Thank you!

  197. Nicole

    This cake was so good on Thanksgiving it deserves a round two. Baking it (again) as soon as my mother’s out of the kitchen from cooking Christmas breakfast.

  198. Liz @ kittenwarfare.blogspot

    De-lurking to say that if your intention is to get other people to pick up a pan and cook, you have succeeded. The applesauce cake is now out of the oven and cooling on the stovetop (to spec, 8×8 pan, 48 mins baking time), and my husband is now pacing the kitchen and hovering like an expectant father.

  199. Liz @ kittenwarfare.blogspot

    The cake turned out wonderfully, and was as moist and flavorful on day 3 as on day 1. The cake will certainly satisfy any sweet tooth as-is, but the cream cheese frosting is delicious and takes the recipe over the top. This is a really gratifying find. Thank you!!

  200. Bianca

    I Love this cake. I think I have made it about 20 times since it was posted. This might sound strange, but it is really good if you use whiskey instead of vanilla in the cake and the frosting.

  201. Well the kitchen has been smelling yummy as the cake has been baking. It is now cooling down on the side and the frosting is made. Here in Turkey we have a Kreme Peyniri, which is a light cream cheese with a yogurty texture and taste, so I have used this along with 5 x 5g sachets of sugar powder, (icing sugar), and the cinnamon. Cannot wait to sit down later this afternoon, with my cup of tea and piece of cake. I would definately like to add this to my blog and will be sure to mention you site. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  202. Lillian

    This cake was absolutely wonderful!! My daughter said it looked like oatmeal before it baked (which she is not a fan of) but in the end she ate all the cake she could stomach. I will be using this recipe again in the near future!!! Thanks for the great recipe.

  203. I made this for a last minute event last week. It is a great cake that can be made without a trip to the store, love the convenience and the flavor! It was definitely a success.

  204. Suzy

    Hey Deb! So fun fact, if you dial the butter and sugar way down, increase the applesauce, and swap 3/4 of the white flour for whole-wheat flour, these make pretty delicious muffins. I didn’t frost them, just sprinkled a little extra cinnamon and sugar on top before popping them in the oven. Perfect mid-afternoon snack. Thanks!

  205. Deidre

    I made this last night after whipping up some homemade applesauce from some apples that had been in the fridge for a while. It is quite tasty! The icing is amazing as it is, but next time, I might increase the amount of spice in the cake to give it a bit more oomph. I will definitely be making your applesauce recipe again too!

  206. The Mrs

    Made this for mother’s day (we celebrated today instead of tomorrow) The icing is divine! It’s exactly like Cinna-bon frosting! The cake was quite fabulous!! This recipe is also nice and simple

  207. I found this recipe and it looks delicious. Last year I made lots of apple butter from the Anna apples on my neighbor’s tree. I still have two jars of it left over. Now that the apples are ripe and falling off the tree this month, I wondered if I could use some of last year’s apple butter instead of applesauce to make your cake, leaving out the spices, of course. The idea intrigues me- what do you think?

  208. Mandy

    Also made this tonight. YUM!! Made it with some homemade applesauce we had leftover. I used Ceylon cinnamon, so I used the whole teaspoon in the frosting… Made a lovely brown colored frosting, but delish!

  209. Kathy in St. Louis

    This adapted well to all white whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose, and to freshly-made (from local Golden Delicious and MacIntosh) applesauce. I used Vietnamese cinnamon in both cake and frosting. If I hadn’t left the butter out too long in a warm kitchen before whipping it, the cake would’ve turned out nearly perfect. Ah, well. It was densely delicious and satisfying.

  210. Kate

    I failed at making red velvet cake and had a bowl of cream cheese icing sitting in my fridge for a week before I came across this recipe. I looooooved this cake! It was very easy to make. It’s so moist and dense that it takes along time to eat, but that’s not really a complaint. Next time I want to try cooking up chunks of apple or pear (or both!) to see how that goes.

  211. Kim Irene

    Was looking for a cake for a workmate’s birthday today so I made this and read am very delighted with the outcome. Perfect cake in my estimation….don’t care for frosting so when I pulled it out of the oven (35 minutes for me), I poured maple syrup over the top and spread with an offset spatula. Love it and I’m looking forward to your cookbook….don’t buy many but will be adding yours to my small collection, for sure ! thanks Deb…

  212. Gina

    Operation Applesauce Cake was a hit. Made this today for my friend’s dad’s birthday and the whole crowd was pleased. I used fresh ginger and decorated the top with candied walnut. Thanks Deb for a new fall edition, this one might also make it to the Thanksgiving table

  213. Meg

    I made this last year and loved it then. I’ve been meaning to make it for the last two weeks, and finally gave in tonight. A warning in case anyone else tries this (I did skim the comments, but didn’t see it mentioned): if you double it and try to bake it in a 9×13 pan, it may overflow. Mine didn’t, barely. This could have in part been due to using one of my wet strips (which keep the outside of the pan cooler to allow the cake to bake more level), but when I checked on it at 20min, the batter was at the top of the sides. It did stop there, thankfully, but next time if I double it I’ll take a bit out and make a few cupcakes with it. As it is, I have a very level box shaped cake! Also, I found the frosting a little thin (like some of the other commenters), but what I did was turn the mixer up to high and let it whip for a few minutes. That made it a bit thicker/fluffier, and easier to spread.

  214. Brianne

    Love your site. Just made this cake with homemade NH apple applesauce, and it is delicious – exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!

  215. Ashley T.

    This has become my “go-to” cake because it’s so easy and it’s always a hit. It makes a GREAT bundt cake, that looks and tastes delicious with a thick vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

  216. noell

    Ashley, Did you have to double the recipe to be the correct volume for a bundt pan? Did you cook it for one hour?

    I made these as cupcakes and everyone sighed with satisfaction with each bite… hoping to make a bundt version tomorrow for a 10 year old’s birthday. Also I sub goat cheese for cream cheese because we don’t do cow’s milk here. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

  217. cristina

    I modified the frosting by using just 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar and it was just the right amount of sweetness for me. My cake cracked/split on top (which is typical for me) but I used the frosting to cover the imperfections.

  218. Katie

    made this last night and it was delicious.. you know when you taste the batter and cannot wait to try the finished product?? i licked the bowl clean and could hardly wait the 35 minutes for it to be done! just perfectly simple and cozy for a sunday night.

  219. Jordan Riley

    I made this as a birthday coffee cake last night and topped it with cream cheese frosting (store-bought, unfortunately, since I don’t have a mixer and didn’t want to do it all by hand) and the sauteed apples from your lemon-ricotta pancakes. It was absolutely delicious. (And I have realized that coffee cake makes an awesome breakfast!)

  220. annemarie

    hello, would you consider making it with oil instead so it is more like a banana bread? I know it is a bit sinful to not use butter, but I don’t have enough in my house right now. thanks

  221. Hi Deb,
    I just recently made this cake for the third time, this time using a scale. Just out of curiosity I measured my ingredients in cups (which I know is extra work).
    There is no way 1 cup light brown sugar could possible weigh 218 grams – in your latest post for gingersnaps the light brown sugar (1/2 cup) weighs in at 92grams which is the accurate amount.

    This cake has tasted great all three times I made it, but I did find it confusing and somehow misleading when I made it.

    1. deb

      Hi Annika — You’re so right. I realized at some point in the last few months that my weight (I’ve pre-weighed most ingredients, keep their weights on file) for brown sugar sounded off. When I reweighed it recently, I got closer to 196 for a cup. I’ll edit this now.

        1. deb

          These days, I default to 190 grams per cup of brown sugar. White sugar is 200 grams. Brown sugar, strangely enough, is lighter but it’s more that it doesn’t flow freely so there’s always more air in a cup, even packed. It’s just a small difference.

  222. Courtney

    I made this for Thanksgiving dinner & it was so good! I am eating my third piece today…at least I’m counting it as lunch? I am slightly ashamed.

  223. wjbk

    Also served this for Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful. In a nod to moderation, I made the frosting with reduced fat cream cheese (not no fat, but lower fat) and it came out great.

  224. akmissie

    i tried your recipe and loved it. and it almost is as good a one my great grandmother makes but puts sour cream in it. i was just wondering if you knew what i can subsitute sliced apples for applesauce. i have a recipe i want to try but do not have apples avaliable to me. okay at 4 dollars a pound. i do. that is why i was asking to see if you knew this could be done or whati might can do. it takes 4 Apples and that is 8 dollars. for those and they lack that wonderful fresh taste. yes these are cold storage apples. and i live in alaska where fresh ones have come and gone,

  225. Nicole

    Love having a bottle of applesauce in the fridge – gives me a perfect (*cough* i mean, sporadic) excuse to make this cake. In the oven now – can’t wait!

  226. Subbed a couple allergy friendly ingredients to make this gluten, soy and dairy free. We loved it! Delicious.

    Also, I ended up making a sort of glazed with some Earth Balance soy free, So Delicious Kefir, powdered sugar and cinnamon. YUM!

  227. Nancy

    I’ve made this recipe as muffins/cupcakes twice now with excellent results — but wait: I made changes to accommodate my ridiculous dietary restrictions. So here’s what worked: I substituted 2 T canola oil for all of the butter and increased the applesauce to 1 3/4 cups and no frosting. This makes them ultra low in fat (you could reduce it even further by substituting 4 egg whites for the 2 eggs); the texture is a bit spongy (which is typical for ultra low fat baked goods) but the taste is wonderful. Everyone in my family loved them — they didn’t even want me to try making it again with all of the butter. So for anyone out there who can’t digest much fat, this worked deliciously!

  228. Kate

    I’ve just frosted and tasted a piece of this cake, and it’s delicious. Mellow flavours, but delicious. I’m moving to another country in two weeks and currently trying to bake my way through all the ingredients in my cupboard – this made a good dent! Between this and your strawberry summer cake (which I made a few days ago – it barely lasted a day), I’m very popular at the moment ;)

  229. Good grief, apologies. Two delurkings in one day_ Madness I say. You ‘random’ button eats my free time and I love it!
    What to do if this cake is all I have ever wanted from cake (and therefore possibly all food and maybe, just maybe, life) but I have an irritating live’with boyfriend who hates cinnamon, can taste even the smallest amounts and goes around with a homemade t-shirt toxic exposure mask around his face if I cook with it. What to do- I need this cake! xx

  230. JoyLynn

    Couldn’t stop eating this. My family loved it.
    I put a dash of Cardamom in with the spices… and candied some walnuts to sprinkle on top. Found out I was sorta brilliant. Took it to a whole new level. Thanks for the amazing and yummy recipe. I give it 5 stars!

  231. August

    WOW! I made these and they are AMAZING. I brought them to work (to an office of 8, save 3 for me) and they were demolished before noon. The frosting is to die for, I couldn’t stop eating it out of the bowl! I’m going to make the pumpkin cupcakes next, but I’m going to use this frosting recipe and sub maple extract for vanilla.

  232. Cindy

    Just canned 110 pounds of apples this weekend. I have applesauce coming out of my ears. Literally: I found some in my ear. So glad to have an applesauce cake recipe from this site!

  233. Megan

    I’ve made this cake several times in both cake and cupcake forms, and it was always demolished very quickly. This weekend I’m going to try it as a 2 layer round as a birthday cake for my aunt. One question I had is in your frosting ingredients (I’ve always just used 1/2 tsp cinnamon, but looking at it again, I was wondering). It says: 1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon. Was that meant to be: 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) cinnamon?

  234. Eden

    Going to have to try this cake. Apple cakes are the best because they stay so moist.

    I love Penzey’s Tung Hing cinnamon, but I’m going to have to try the Vietnamese one too. Hard to use other cinnamons after you try Penzey’s!

  235. HPM

    Oh my word, is this cake ever delicious. It turned out of the pan beautifully which is no small feat in my kitchen. The flavors really speak to the season. My youngest son thinks that this cake should replace the pumpkin pie at our Thanksgiving table!

  236. Sarah

    Great recipe! Can’t wait to try it tonight. P.S. I noticed that you didn’t have this recipe under your ‘Apple’ category, just so you know :)

  237. Ro Van

    I made this cake yesterday and frosted it this morning. It is so declicious! I really appreciate that you showed photos of it with just the frosting on the top. Loved the cinnamon in the frosting.

  238. Pratha

    LOVE this cake. Most of my family doesn’t eat eggs (though I love ’em to death) and so I tried making this eggless. I substituted about a cup of greek yogurt for the eggs and it’s turned out great every time I’ve made it! It’s a little more like a cake-y bread than a cake, and it doesn’t stay quite as fluffy for the whole 3 days, but with that delicious frosting it doesn’t usually last that long. Delicious.

  239. Brenna

    Made my first applesauce from this cake (so easy)!! Anyways, this cake is delicious, and I love the cream cheese icing. The first time, I baked in the 8×8 and subbed half of the flour for oat flour. Big hit. The second time, I used all purpose flour, but doubled it for 2 layer cake (9″ round). I doubled the frosting, and it wasn’t enough for the sides. It was well received as it should have been, but I think this cake is a little dense for a 2 layer cake. Next time, I’ll stick with the single 8X8 or maybe some cupcakes.

  240. Aaron

    Great recipe! I didn’t have enough applesauce so I added 1/2 cup of grated carrots and fresh ginger. I also added raisins and sunflower seeds. Delicious! I think I’ll try it with some grated beets next time.

  241. Sherry

    Instead of the frosting, I added chopped apples and a crumble mixture (butter, oatmeal, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar) on top before baking. Came out wonderfully. Although will try the cake as cupcakes with frosting for my daughter’s birthday. Thanks for the recipe.

  242. Diana

    My coworkers and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this cake! I used some whole wheat flour along w/ the white, and used coconut oil instead of butter. It is SO GOOD! Especially with the frosting.

  243. Melissa

    So if I also have deeply carmalized apple butter from a not-great attempt at making it, and the apple butter called for 1 cup of brown sugar, should I just skip the 1 cup brown sugar in the cake recipe?

  244. mom

    This cake is absolutely delicious, thanks so much for the recipe! I felt it was a little too sweet for my taste, so next time I’ll reduce the amout of sugar used, and I used a third egg as my eggs were very small.
    Perfection! :-)

  245. Marianne

    How do you think this would work as a wedding cake recipe? I’m looking for a good spice cake-ish recipe for a wedding cake for 115 people!

    1. deb

      Marianne — Oh, I think I’d like to be a guest at that wedding! For any wedding cake, definitely make a mini first so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. But I think this one is very moist and pretty sturdy (heavy for its size) — it could be great.

  246. Marianne

    Thanks, Deb! I was also thinking about your roasted apple spice sheet cake… do you have preference? Or is that sacrilegious? ;)

    1. deb

      Marianne — Whoops! I … I read comments from my site’s admin panel (not the individual posts) and actually thought that was the one we were discussing. That was the one I found to be sturdy, heavy for its size and definitely worth trying. This one is also wonderful, but maybe a touch softer.

  247. Karla

    This cake is amazing!! Even my “hates anything with fruit (including applesauce)” significant other LOVED it. I couldn’t resist tweaking the icing recipe – I browned the butter first, and cooled it in the fridge before beating it with the cream cheese etc. I also omitted the cinnamon in the icing because I didn’t want it to take away from the brown butter flavour. So. Good. Thanks Deb!

  248. M

    I just made this as cupcakes. I got 18 as well, but, in my oven, they took closer to 18 minutes to bake. I have Vietnamese cinnamon, so I used 1/2 teaspoon in the cake. I doubled the icing recipe, per Deb’s suggestion, and actually had almost a half cup leftover. I don’t love a huge hit of cinnamon, so I halved the amount needed in the frosting and thought it was just right. I made this using homemade applesauce, which is pink because I leave the skins on as I cook it. I was a little concerned that the color would be weird, but they ended up looking a lot like Deb’s photos. Great recipe!

  249. Laurie

    Since these will be breakfast muffins, I subbed white whole wheat flour, cut brown sugar to 4 oz, and used 1/2 cup (4 oz) oil instead of butter. If they aren’t sweet enough for the family, I’ll consider a glaze, but I think they are perfect. Thanks for the inspiration.

  250. Anna

    This is a DELICIOUS cake! Moist, spicy, wonderful fall flavors. Will definitely bake it again.

    I halved both the cake and frosting recipes. Baked the cake in a 8″x1.5″ round cake pan, and it was done in 23 minutes or so. I served it the day after I baked it and it was great. Keeps very well.

    I used Vietnamese cinnamon in the full amounts the recipe calls for. It was really yummy but I couldn’t taste the applesauce much as the spice flavors dominated the cake. I think next time I’ll experiment and try making just the cake, without frosting, and adding walnuts and maybe some apple slices on top.

  251. Have just made 12 muffins and a small square cake using the above quantities.
    They turned out beautifully well – and I am no great shakes at baking, believe me!
    Tank you for this wonderful recipe.

  252. stacey

    1. homemade applesauce recipe was delish. Stayman apples (slightly tart) with 2 fujis thrown in for sugar. Love the delicate lemon peel flavor.
    2. this applesauce cake from said applesauce was delish. Colleagues are convinced there are illicit, highly addictive additives in the frosting. =) I didn’t have ground ginger at home, so I put some fresh grated ginger in the icing instead. And some ground clove. It was so amazing!!
    3. While making a spice run for Thanksgivukkah rye crust pumpkin pie this week, I saw McCormick Saigon Cinnamon in the standard Safeway spice aisle!!! And there was a spice sale!! Win! You are SO right! it was wonderful. Looking forward to baking more of your recipes with the “Let me upgrade ya” cinnamon! Thanks for the ongoing food inspiration and great tips and tricks!!

  253. i’ve been making this cake with the pureed spiced stewed fruit mixture (prunes, apples, peaches, pears and apricots, with cinnamon and other spices) that are left over from our christmas compote every year. i puree the fruit, freeze them in 3c bags and then defrost and use in this recipe. it’s fabulous! you’re always my go-to.

  254. Ana

    Mine took substantially longer to bake than the recipe says for some reason. I skipped the walnuts and, while the cake was not extremely apple-y in flavor, it was very easy to make and absolutely delicious. I fell in love with it and so did my family. Thanks so much for the fantastic recipe.

  255. Lisa

    I made the recipe exactly as written and used an 8×8 glass dish. The comments I received most often were on how moist the cake was, and I agreed! Even after being worried that I baked it for too long, it still came out moist and delicious. Thanks for this fantastic and easy-to-make recipe!

  256. Rose

    I have made this twice already. It’s absolutely divine, super fast and easy.
    I have made some substitutions;
    -used gluten free all purpose flour plus 1/4 cup of hazelnut meal
    -coconut sugar
    -first time, I used half butter/half coconut oil, second time-used only coconut oil
    -added some garam masala and pumpkin pie spice on top of cinnamon and cardamom
    Great recipe. Thank you very much.

  257. Leslie

    I just baked this tonight, and for some reason, it did NOT bake in 40 minutes. It was nice and golden on top, and couldn’t tell by the toothpick test..I took it out at 45, but it totally sunk in the middle and was NOT done. I threw it in the oven for 15 more minutes. My son and I ate a corner of it while it was will cooling, so we’ll see. Next time I’ll make this as muffins :). I did brown my butter, as forgot to take it out and let it soften..not sure that would make a difference at all.

  258. Tricia

    I adapted this recipe into strawberry cupcakes by swapping the spices for milled freeze-dried strawberries (0.75 oz – I would maybe do a full ounce next time) and adding 3 tbsp strawberry jam to the cream cheese frosting (doubled as encouraged – I did have some left over which was not a bad thing! On toast, for dipping the first of the fresh stone fruits into, mmm…) They felt a little between a cupcake and a muffin, slightly dense (in a good way). They were perfect for a family birthday party for my one year old.

  259. Jeanne


    I am planning to double this to make a layer cake for a baby shower I’m hosting this weekend. I was planning to make the pear sauce version, but I’m wondering if I need to double the recipe for the pear sauce to get enough for the cake. I have looked through the comments on this page and the page for the pear sauce and I didn’t seem to find anything about how much it makes.

    Also, I followed the link to the original recipe from your post about pumpkin cupcakes and found a recipe for ginger cupcakes (!!!) and I’ll also be converting those into a layer cake for the shower. The mom-to-be LOVES ginger so that one will be in honor of her!

    Anyway, thanks for the cake ideas and wonderful recipes! I may just have to do a large batch of that pear sauce and just enjoy the leftovers! ;)

  260. Hustannah

    I’ve made this four times now (just maybe twice in one week) and happened upon a delicious substitute when I only had a cup of applesauce once. It’s nothing revolutionary but I subbed a half a cup of sour cream for that missing half cup of applesauce. It was definitely the best version of the four cakes! Such a simple and delicious cake!

  261. Laurie

    Apples are on the stove simmering in anticipation of next week’s latkes. I thank you each year for the linked applesauce recipe. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Chanukah!

  262. Vanessa

    For those who are gluten-free, I recently did a VERY successful GF adaptation of this cake. It already has the high-moisture-without-tons-of-fat composition that lends itself to a good GF result. Sub the wheat flour with 250g of Carol Fenster’s sorghum blend (35% sorghum, 35% potato starch, 30% tapioca starch). Then when you measure the applesauce, add an additional tiny bit of water to take the total measure to 1 and 2/3 of a cup. I also threw in a bit of nutmeg. The final product was super moist and delicious.

  263. Susan

    It’s May, spring, not autumn, and my family has been grousing that I never make spice cake. I could not stand spice cake, that’s why! Well, I finally relented and used this recipe as a guide (because you have never failed me). I used a reduced amount of buttermilk instead of the applesauce and added a few other spices. It was very good and am now a spice cake convert. Next time I will use applesauce just to check that out. FWIW, My main reason for response is because I used a penuche frosting (Marion Cunningham from Fanny Farmer cookbook) and it was so very good paired with the spices in the cake. I’m sure the frosting was what converted me! The frosting is pretty sweet so be advised. In retrospect, I think your butterscotch sauce would be very good, too, if you’re even a little curious to try, Deb.

  264. CAT

    Just infused some of my dad’s pears into bourbon as a birthday present for my brother. My dad died last year and we sold his house about two weeks ago, and with it went the pears. In short: the pear carcasses are not to be composted. Going to go for a boozy take on this cake: a sentimental-pear booze-cake mod on your applesauce cake; I will let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the recipe, looks fantastic, saved my pears from oblivion.

    1. deb

      Sara — It’s hard to say because I wouldn’t know how much sugar is in the applesauce. Can you guess from the label on the jar or estimate if it was homemade?

  265. Tracy

    Made this last night with half chunky homemade applesauce and half TJ’s organic (unsweetened), baked in a round nonstick cake pan – turned out delicious. We had it as a special treat Sunday morning breakfast with the frosting to spread on your slice. Thanks for reminding me how great this simple recipe is!

  266. Shante

    This was delicious and super moist. My frosting came out much browner than yours- maybe I didn’t fluff the cream cheese and butter enough? Or perhaps you used less of your fancy cinnamon, so it didn’t color it as much. It made me want to save some of the un-cimmamoned frosting out and then write on the cake with it!

  267. Emily

    Made this last night and just finished eating two pieces of it for breakfast! It’s fantastic. It didn’t quite bake through in the middle, though. I left it in for 40 minutes and the edges were nice and brown and the toothpick test seemed ok, but when I returned to the kitchen after 15 minutes of cooling the middle had sunk in. After cutting it, the middle definitely wasn’t quite done. But most of the cake is perfectly good, and next time I’ll probably just add an additional few minutes bake time. My frosting was also brown…not sure how Deb’s turned out so white with the cinnamon and vanilla, but maybe they both come in various shades. But I liked the way mine looked. :)

  268. Made these as cupcakes yesterday. So yummy!
    Brought them in to the office to share since they pair very well with a hot cup of coffee! Thanks smitten kitchen! ;)

  269. Thanks for this recipe! My mom used to make an applesauce cake when I was a kid but I lost the recipe. A great lunchbox tip from her – she would pull the piece of cake in half and re-stick it together with the icing in the middle for wrapping up, so the icing wasn’t all stuck to the paper :)

  270. Barbara M.

    I made this recipe yesterday. I did not have ground cloves so used mace and although the applesauce I had was not unsweetened, I didn’t decrease the brown sugar. The cake took longer than 40 minutes to bake in an 8 X 8 pan. I was eager to try it. It was dense and moist but very bland. The frosting was easy to make but aside from some cinnamon, it’s a basic cream cheese frosting. I won’t make this again.

  271. I made this yesterday on whim because I had some homemade applesauce in the fridge. It was sweetened so I just cut the brown sugar in half. Yummo! So moist and delish! I love that it’s smaller because then it won’t go to waste. My husband, myself and my Mother in law all agreed that the recipe is a keeper. Thanks for sharing. We didn’t find it bland at all.

  272. Lisa Thomas

    Delicious! Recipe x 1.5 = perfect bundt cake size. A sprinkle of confectioners sugar & voila – the perfect way to use up that huge container of applesauce that was the perfect way to use up all those soft apples no one wanted. Yum :)

  273. Debra M

    I know this recipe was posted close to 6 years ago, but I just found it searching for a moist applesauce cake.

    Just made this, and WOW! Super moist and just what I was looking for.

    I wanted to make some little cakes to freeze and bring to my 2 year old granddaughter on my next visit. I made the recipe exactly as written, but used 4 mini spring form pans plus 2 mini bundt pans and baked for approx. 35 minutes. Oh, and I had a jar of organic french apple & pear sauce so used that for the applesauce. Two of the pans do not have walnuts (for the little one) and the others have toasted chopped walnuts.

    Thanks and this has been saved for future baking.
    Debra in Vermont

  274. Hello Deb, I am hesitating between this recipe, and your roasted apple spice sheet cake. Is there a significant difference in taste/texture, other than the roasted apple pieces in the sheet cake? Is one more moist, or more pronounced in terms of flavors? Thank you!

  275. catherine

    made as cupcakes and it made 12 large ones (should have made 16 probably) – wow what a great taste of fall. I used an unsweetened roasted apple sauce that was TART- and the cupcakes were sweet. might dial back sugar a little next time

  276. Malena

    Tomorrow I will bake this cake for the first time (as a snack cake, without the frosting) and I made your First Applesauce today. I couldn’t leave a comment under that post so I thought I would do so here. It is delicious and so simple. I had never tasted homemade applesauce before, just the stuff from the supermarket, so I thought I hated applesauce! Yeah, the commercial ones are so not for me LOL. This one I really liked. It’s very sweet and fresh-tasting, with that subtle scent of cinnamon and lemon. I made about half a recipe (a little bit over 2 pounds of apples, a mix of Rome and Fuji) and it rendered around 2 cups of applesauce.

    I can’t wait to make this cake tomorrow. I’ll report back soon :)

  277. CJ

    Made this without the frosting. It was fine on the day it was made, but significantly better on the second day, stored in the fridge. It’s evenly moist throughout and the spices are deliciously mellowed. A great cake to use up leftover Hanukah applesauce.

  278. Kimberly Dunn

    Hello Deb wanted to knie how this recipe would fare using gluten free flour….bobs red mill 1 to 1 is what I have on hand today….made this with regular flour and the hubby who has a wheat allergy ate some and loved it so I wanted him to have one he and my daughter would enjoy with no allergy issues….gonna try it we will see how it comes out….have asked this same question but have not gotten an answer…..thanks

    1. Dorothy Sood

      Hi! Not sure about Bob’s Red Mill but I made this with Cup4Cup flour, as I have a gluten intolerance. Turned out beautifully! Just swapped Cup4Cup w/ the all-purpose flour. I do think it takes longer to bake with GF flour and I ended up checking the cake at 5 minute intervals after the recommended bake time had passed. Overall, very pleased with the result and this recipe is a keeper!

  279. Sandra

    My niece loves this cake and wants it for her wedding. Any ideas about how much to make for 6″, 8″ and 10″ round cakes and how much frosting?

    1. deb

      I usually scale cakes based on their bottom area (not volume) because we usually want to keep the height the same as we scale. So, the 8-inch square pan you see here has a base area of 64. A 10-inch round has 77.5 (121%), an 8-inch round has 50.25 (79%), and a 6-inch round 28.25 (44%), which sounds very math-y but it basically would mean that you could use 244% (i.e. about 2 1/2 times) this cake recipe to make one layer of each size.

      Do you know how many layers you’d like each layer to have? You could split a layer of this cake into 3 thin ones but for a wedding cake it might be more traditional and towering to maybe make each layer a little taller (about 1.5x height) to make a three-layer tier in each size, i.e. meaning you’d want to make 366% (i.e. 3 2/3 times) of this recipe to fill them. Maybe first check with a test layer if each of your pans can hold a 1.5x amount of batter without overflowing. Wedding cake layer pans often have 3-inch sides instead of 2-inch for this reason.

      Hope that helps. And yes, I think this is my nerdiest comment response ever.

  280. Ellen N.

    Hi Deb,

    I’ve made this cake several times. It is delicious. Everyone I’ve made it for raves.

    However, every time I bake it; it comes out of the oven risen perfectly, but as it cools it slumps in the middle. As with your honey cake. it has quite a bit of leavener. Do you think that reducing the baking powder by half would cause any problems? Thank you very much.

    I can’t wait to get your new cookbook.

    1. deb

      It’s possible. I haven’t had the sinking problem here, so I cannot say for sure, but you could try knocking the baking soda back to 1/4 teaspoon and see what happens. It probably won’t harm it in any way.

  281. Ursula

    Hi Deb, just wanted to let you know this is my go-to cake! I’ve made it so many times now – absolutely love it. Thank you!!

  282. patricia

    I made the frosting for a different recipe. The frosting was amazing but i recommend doubling it because it was a small amount

  283. Jessica

    I was wavering between making this or a half recipe of the roasted apple sheet cake, so I decided to make this one with the addition of three diced and roasted apples. Really delicious! The spices don’t overwhelm the apple and it’s so moist and buttery. The apple chunks are well distributed and I didn’t even dust them with flour. It did take an extra five minutes or so to bake.

  284. Alexandra

    I made this this weekend and didn’t even think it needed frosting, it was so good! I also swapped out 1/2 cup of the flour with oat flour, which I’d definitely recommend.

  285. Grant

    I 1.5x’d this recipe and made it as a bundt. I also more or less doubled the spices, added a diced Honeycrisp apple tossed in a bit of flour, and (being out of cream cheese) made a caramel glaze to go on top. It came out excellent; people were raving. That being said, I think the incredibly moist texture of this cake makes it more suited to being a sheet cake, as Deb made it. I’ll do this next time, but keep the diced apple and caramel glaze.

  286. When I recently went to the store I accidentally bought a bunch of sweetened versus unsweetened applesauce. How can I use it in this recipe? I usually just reduce the called for amount of sugar, but wasn’t sure in this case since it is brown sugar. Thanks!!!

  287. Lauren K.

    In my arrogance, I tried to make this fit into 12 muffin cups. (I only have one pan.) Several of them overflowed. Let this be a lesson that Deb knows best! The muffins that did not overflow are delicious. I will make these again soon – the right way!

  288. Tia Malkin

    I made this recipe in 8 mini loaf pans. Somehow eating cake in loaf form makes it feel healthier! LOL. I also subbed in 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour. The loaves came out perfectly in about 22 minutes. I loved the cake with and without the frosting. I will definitely make this recipe again.

  289. aeamratlal

    this recipe came up on my Facebook feed recently, and the timing was perfect as I have a lot of apples on hand from a recent apple festival. I made the unsweetened applesauce from the recipe Deb linked to. I then made the cake using my GF flour blend from the book, Gluten-free Flour Power, as I have celiac. It was absolutely delicious and my husband said you couldn’t tell it was gluten free. Am making it again two weeks later.

  290. Erin

    Hi Deb,

    I’m in the process of making these cupcakes for my son’s first birthday! For the frosting, you call for 1 cup of confectioners sugar…is that before or after it is sifted? It seems to be multiplying as I’m sifting it!


  291. Anna Highsmith

    So delicious! A huge hit with the whole family. I didn’t have brown sugar, so used white plus a dollop of molasses, and it worked just fine.

  292. Scarlett

    Hi Deb, I use to make this cake when I was living in NYC, and it was my favorite fall cake. Unfortunately I have lost the original recipe from Gourmet during one of my moves, and epicurious no longer has it on their site. Would you happen to have the original saved anywhere?


  293. Tina

    I LOVED this cake. I would love to make it into a layer cake. Is it possible by making any changes so the cake can be stacked in layers?

      1. Anna

        I only have dark brown sugar instead of light brown. I know the extra molasses may affect the rise or flavor. Is it ok to use, or maybe some combo of dark brown sugar and granulated sugar? Thank you!

  294. Caroline

    Ermagerd…we’re having a work picnic out here in Santa Fe this weekend. I signed up to bring a dessert and this is a much more special and real food choice than the boxed brownie mixes I was planning on. It’s also a good fall choice and will make the house smell so good.😍

  295. Dora Dalton

    I think it could use double the amount of spices! Even so, really lovely flavor and texture; better than I expected. Thanks for another good one, Deb!

  296. tessajmccall

    Just made this and its lovely. I didn’t add walnuts and left the cake unfrosted. Its moist and delightful. It doesn’t really taste like apples but my picky kids ate it happily.

  297. Margaret

    Made this on a frigid day in NYC with some extra applesauce we had. Really delicious. I didn’t have cloves so I subbed allspice – Probably could have just left it out but I’m not sorry I used it. Next time I’ll add more cinnamon.

  298. Millie

    This fell in the middle, because it wasn’t all the way done after 40 minutes, even when it tested clean. The flavor is fine and it is very moist but I don’t know how I will know if it’s done the next time I make it. I think I have better ways to use up applesauce.

  299. Elysse

    For anyone wondering, this can easily be made vegan. I planned to make this as is but didn’t have any butter or eggs at home. I subbed coconut oil and two egg-sized pieces of banana. I also used whole wheat flour since I didn’t have any all-purpose. It cane out delicious. It has the slightest hint of banana flavor but if you weren’t looking for it you probably wouldn’t notice. Came out delicious and moist. I baked for 35 mins and used chopped candied ginger instead of walnuts.

  300. Lison

    I usually make a brown sugar cake for tea time but this recipe is my new go-to. It is very moist and “light” and a cream cheese frosting is always great.
    It bakes for around 35-40 minutes in my oven.

  301. jmecannon

    I’m sure someone has said this already but just in case. I hadn’t realized my applesauce was sweetened, so I made a somewhat arbitrary decision and reduced the brown sugar to 90g instead, and it was just great. I also wanted a few raisins so I measured out 50g of them and let soak in warm water while I prepped the rest of the recipe. More would have been good too (but I love them). I ended up skipping the frosting just for healthiness, that way I can have a big piece of cake :) I ate it with a tablespoon or so of cream cheese, straight up. Can’t wait to eat it with coffee tomorrow morning!

  302. Jewel Story

    i am making a wedding cake for a friend, could this be used as a layer cake? Also could i fancy it up with some preserves in between the layers? if so which would you choose? if no do you recommend any spice cake that would work as a layered cake?

    1. deb

      I think this works but definitely give it a spin first — it’s on the heavy side, not a bad thing if you like it. I’m not sure it needs preserves; what kinds of flavors did you have in mind for apple spice?

  303. Elisa

    Your make everything sound so cozy. I want to run to that market right now and pick up spices. Oh how I wish I lived in NYC…sigh . Anyway, I’ll be making this cake this weekend to bring to work Monday! Thanks!!

  304. Martin

    Ah, if only people would comment after having made this recipe and most recipes online – I want helpful, useful information, not “oh Deb, it looks so delicious.!” or “can I make this with fresh apples?” I say try it, then, if you want to make changes , JUST DO IT and let us know how it turned out.

  305. Sophia Weston

    I made this into cupcakes, mine really domed! Tasted beautifully. Moist, lots of spice. I replaced the sugar with honey. It worked well. Loved the frosting as well.

  306. What would you suggest by way of frosting for someone who impulsively mixed up the cake and threw it in the oven but then realized that she was, tragically, out of cream cheese, and she wouldn’t be able to get to the store for more because it’s in the middle of the toddler’s naptime?

  307. Breann

    Do you think this could be baked on a half cookie sheet to make them into bars? Would the recipe need to be doubled or x1.5? It seems to have similar proportions to a pumpkin bar recipe I use, so I alllllmost think I could just make as is and pour into a cookie sheet… Thoughts? Maybe double the frosting?

  308. Sam

    Have made this several times and it’s a smashing success each time! I’ve never made the frosting, just dusted the top of the cake with some icing sugar and decorated with fresh flowers.

    Will make it again this weekend and am debating browning the butter before beating with the sugar and vanilla – will it affect the texture of the cake?

  309. Marianne Porter

    I had apple sauce in the fridge and needed to do “something” with it. And this popped up. Really good cake! Lots of cinnamon! To be honest, I didn’t use the frosting recipe, but made a glaze of apple sauce, cinnamon, and powdered sugar.
    Shared with the neighbors while we all shelter in place and self-quarantine.

  310. I love this cake!! I’ve made it a handful of times now. Not too heavy or sweet but still indulgent…just perfect. I don’t have an electric mixer but beating it by hand seems to work just fine. Last time I was out of butter so I used vegetable oil, and didn’t have ingredients for the frosting so I just skipped it – still great!

  311. raphy

    I split the recipe exactly in 1/2 and did 1/2 GF, 1/2 regular flour to see if there’s a difference. Seriously cannot tell visually, by taste or by texture any difference! Awesome!

  312. Ali

    I love this recipe! Suggestions for adapting it to be a small cake smash cake for a one year old plus a small (not smashed) cake for the adults? Thanks!

      1. Ali

        I was thinking about a 4 inch round 2-layer cake for the baby? The adult cake doesn’t matter in terms of looks, it just needs to feed 5. I don’t make cakes that often so I’m open to suggestions!

        1. deb

          You could turn this cake into a 2-layer 6-inch cake of about the same height, i.e. tall and festive. For a 4-inch, you might not have enough leftover for a cake for 5 people, so I would just double or 1.5x this. You can make the adult cake in a 9-inch round if you want a more traditional shape.

  313. Vee

    I’m an absolute novice in the kitchen, but I made this cake last Christmas, and within 24 hours my family had devoured it and were asking me to make another! Since then it’s become a regular feature in our house. I sometimes up the cinnamon content in the cake because I’m a total cinnamon fiend, but it’s also delicious as written.

    Thank you for your foolproof recipes – when you’re unsure of yourself as a cook, it makes all the difference knowing you can trust a recipe writer.

  314. lillybones

    This was amazing, perfect for fall. I made it exactly how it was written, minus the walnuts. Came together quickly, only one bowl to clean and all ingredients were in my pantry.

  315. Suzanne Hindman

    Thanks to the recent Instagram post, I made this cake yesterday. Perfect for a cold fall day! I swapped half of the applesauce for thinly sliced apples (I was short on applesauce), and it all worked out. QUESTION: The amount of cinnamon call for “1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon.” I shot for the middle…tasted great. Wondering if it should read “1 gram” in the parentheses.


  316. Nadia

    I made this today and it was lovely! I didn’t have applesauce so I made some using the linked recipe and it was super easy. I ended up skipping the frosting to make it lighter although it sounded delicious. Can’t wait to have it for breakfast tomorrow morning!

  317. Cheri

    Just came across this recipe on Instagram and was instantly on board. It definitely tastes better the next day and while I am not a huge fan of cream cheese icing (but definitely not opposed to eating it) I am a fan of cinnamon and therefore the icing was a hit in my eyes. I can see even mixing pulverized, freeze-dried apples in the icing for more apple flavor, which for me is never a bad thing.

  318. Chris Janetti

    Our neighbor made this cake last night and it was awesome! What would you suggest to substitute for the eggs for our allergic grandsons, who would LOVE this cake. Bananas are usually good people, but not sure if it would alter the taste too much? Applesauce is good too, but that is already in the cake…

    Thank you!

  319. Natalie

    I wanted to test out this cake in loaf form without frosting because I’m hoping to mail mini loaves to family members. It definitely turned out a little short in a 9-inch loaf pan.

    I used sweetened applesauce because I already had a big jar of it. I calculated how much extra sugar that would add and decided to lose about 22 grams of brown sugar (or about 2 tablespoons).

    The final product is very moist, not too sweet, with a slightly crispy exterior. It has a nice spicy flavor, but the apple does not come through at all. It tastes very similar to a banana or zucchini bread. Yummy, but not the apple-forward treat I was looking for. Something with apple chunks might be better for what I’m looking for.

  320. Katherine Wendt

    Just making this cake now (January 2021) and I find an error in the cinnamon amount for the frosting. It’s just an editing error and pretty sure you mean for us to add 1/2 teaspoon.

  321. I made this for our special Oscar dinner dessert last night and it was spectacular. I didn’t have cream cheese for frosting on hand, so I improvised a quick buttercream and added a little bourbon to it for an interesting twist–divine! Warm, fresh cake for dessert is incomparable.

  322. Linda

    I have frozen carrot cakes with the same frosting on. Does great. I put a little chopped walnuts on top of the frosting, lightly cover with plastic wrap until frozen and the seal tightly with foil.

  323. Tonia S

    This cake came out excellent! Moist, fluffy and full of seasonal flavor. I browned the butter and let it cool to lukewarm (so it wouldn’t cook the eggs) before adding it to the rest of the wet ingredients instead of whipping it in with the sugar, because I love the taste and smell of browned butter, especially when paired with apple. The other bonus of doing it that way is I didn’t have to use my mixer…the batter cam together easily in a bowl. I wasn’t sure if the applesauce was just in the recipe to make the cake moist of if you’d actually taste it, but it turned out that the flavor really came through, which I was happy about! I’d love to try a variation where cardamom is swapped for the other spices. Thank you for this keeper of a recipe!

  324. CR Cone

    I made this for the first time tonight and it was so very delicious! I prepared the cake as written. I upped the cream cheese and added lemon juice to the frosting. I used the toasted walnuts as garnish, after frosting. The combined textures were very nice. A lovely cake anytime! Deb rarely fails, after all!

  325. Jessica

    Absolutely delicious and so easy. Both the cake and the frosting are unreal. Greatly appreciate the measurements and the weights of ingredients. Thank you!!

  326. Julie

    This cake was outstanding! I followed the recipe, and made the cream cheese frosting. I made one addition. Based on the ideas from a few fellow commenters, I wanted to add chopped apple. So I peeled and chopped an apple… but then I put it in the oven for about 6 minutes (on a some parchment) while I was making the batter. I got the idea from your roasted pear scone recipe. I was concerned that if I put it in raw, it might be uncooked in the final cake and/or release too much juice in the cake. I let the lightly baked apple bits cool a little and then folded them in to the batter. Fabulous! Everyone raved about it.

  327. Jackie

    Made this this afternoon as muffins / cupcakes-added a handful of crystallized small dice ginger and 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg, otherwise as written. Mine took 20 minutes to bake. Didn’t want leftover cream cheese so I used all 8 oz., 4 tbsp. of butter, no change to vanilla, cinnamon or sugar. Had more than enough to frost all 18 with leftover but I didn’t heap it on either. Very tasty-will definitely make again, thank you SK.

  328. Carolyn

    Love your recipes but this one missed the mark for me. Might try it again but not with cinnamon in the frosting. That being said, my 5 and 4 year old grandchildren asked for seconds.

  329. Susan

    I was trying to use up some homemade apple sauce we were given and not sure what to do with. Household of adults and apple sauce isn’t part of it :-)

    This recipe was perfect. I had read some of the comments so was a touch concerned about sugar and the risen cake falling. I made (mostly) as is and it was delicious. My only substitute was to make it in three mini loaf pans and I skipped the frosting. Sounds delicious but I didn’t want to buy cream cheese in my quest to use up apple sauce.

    The three pans are the equivalent of one standard loaf pan. The mini pans were done baking right around 35 minutes. I made this Sat evening, froze two on Sunday and am still enjoying the cake on Wednesday. It’s a nice little treat with my morning coffee. Thank you Deb for another great recipe.

  330. Sandra

    I doubled the cake recipe for two 9″ rounds and TRIPLED the frosting recipe to make dramatic swirls. In the refrigerator now for a birthday celebration tomorrow!

  331. Katie

    I made this with whole wheat and almond flours, because SOMEONE in this house made a lot of pancakes recently and there was no all-purpose flour left. I made a 1.5X recipe of the frosting but did not increase the powdered sugar, and split the layer and added a thin-ish layer of frosting in the middle. It was fantastic. We’ll definitely make this one again!

  332. Susan Foust

    I made this cake today for Thanksgiving dessert, and, of course, I had to try it to make sure it was okay. Lol. Well, it’s delicious! It’s moist, tasty, and has a warm holiday vibe. Fyi, I didn’t add the nuts. Hubby gave it two thumbs up!

  333. Victoria

    Hi Deb! For the frosting, the recipe says 1 cup (4 ounces or 120 grams) confectioners sugar. I’m confused, I thought 1 cup is 8 ounces. This is a huge difference so please let us know if it’s 4 oz or 8 oz.

      1. Victoria

        Maybe I am being a bit daft.
        It says one cup which as long as I’ve known it, is 8 oz. Then in parentheses it says 4 oz, so I am wondering if it is 4 oz or 8 oz. No one has seemed to ask this question in the comments history so maybe I don’t know what I’m doing!

        1. Vee

          Not daft at all! I’m always second guessing myself in the kitchen! If it helps, I’ve made this cake many times using the weights as listed and it has always been perfect. 4oz of powdered sugar is the way to go :)

        2. deb

          1 cup = 16 (liquid) ounces. Whether it’s 8 (weighed) ounces depends on what is being weighed, and so it varies. 1 cup of butter = 8 ounces. 1 cup powdered sugar is lighter. Hope that helps.

  334. Susan Foust

    Oh, my word! This cake is amazing! I made it for Thanksgiving, and everyone raved about it! So moist and delicious. I especially love the cloves. The frosting is dreamy. My husband agreed this should be our regular Thanksgiving dessert, and I agree. Thanks!

  335. Sarah

    I didn’t think this cake was that great. Definitely not worth buying the special cinnamon for. Way too tall for proper cake to frosting ratio.

    1. Victoria

      Now that I’ve made it I have to agree with you. I think I over-baked it but the wooden skewer never came out clean and I kept adding minutes until it did. It was tasty but dry. Frosting to cake ratio wasn’t enough, and I’m not a big frosting fan. My first disappointment with a SK recipe.

  336. Ashley

    I have made this cake several times. It is currently in my oven yet again so I can bring a piece of “birthday cake” to one of my VPs tomorrow. I love this cake because it is extremely forgiving, but if you, like me, do not love super sweet desserts, please follow my lead and add a little garam masala and Chinese 5 Spice to replace the cloves and ginger. Then sprinkle with powdered sugar instead of icing and you have a cake that you can DEFINITELY eat for breakfast! So good. Thanks, Deb.

  337. Catherine

    Delicious and so easy! I had some applesauce that I needed to use up and this was amazing. Perfect fall cake! I was worried there wouldn’t be enough frosting but it was just the right amount.

  338. Nancy in CA

    This popped up in my FB feed day before yesterday, and I immediately determined This Must Happen. Made it yesterday. We had store-bought applesauce that was seriously lacking in flavor, so I swapped in a tablespoon-ish of boiled spiced cider – every couple of years I boil down a jug of Trader Joe’s Spiced Cider to syrup and keep it in the fridge for pies and pancakes and whatever. This is lovely, and like most spiced things, the flavor and texture only improves overnight. I used dark brown sugar, as that’s all I keep in the house. Thanks, Deb!

  339. Barb

    Wasn’t up for chopping apples today, so made this instead. It is fall perfection. Doesn’t even need frosting. It’s delicious as is. Thank you.

  340. Morgan Prudden

    Easy to bake and delicious! Was able to whip it up on a Sunday afternoon while already having all of the ingredients in the panty. Will definitely make again!

  341. Catherine

    Delicious. Made as written, with an extra heavy dose of spices, and skipped the frosting. Heavenly straight out of the oven. The perfect dessert to follow Deb’s tomato soup and grilled cheese. Happy tummies here this fall evening.

    1. Vee

      I use an 8-inch cake tin whenever I make this and it always turns out great. But this cake doesn’t have a huge amount of rise to it, so it wouldn’t be too thick either way, imo.