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Homemade Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 12-16     adjust servings

The BEST homemade spice cake is bright with autumn flavor! And it is super moist. This recipe has sour cream, oil, and buttermilk. Say no to dry cake! To bring out the flavor of those beautiful spices, toast them on the stove before adding to the batter. Layer the cake with cream cheese frosting for the best combo ever!


For the cake

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or light flavored olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

For the frosting

  • a double batch of this Cream Cheese Frosting


  1. Start by toasting your spices. Heat a small pan over medium heat and add 1/2 cup neutral oil. In a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ginger, 3/4 teaspoon cloves, 3/4 teaspoon cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. When the oil is hot, add the spices all at once and toast for about 1 minute. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. It will bubble a little bit. Take it off heat after about a minute, when it smells very fragrant. Let cool completely. I stuck mine in a bowl in the freezer.
  2. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Trace the outline of 3 9-inch cake pans on parchment paper. Cut out the circles and place in the bottom of each cake pan. See photos. With the paper in the bottom of the pan, use nonstick spray to grease each cake pan very well, including up the sides.
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat 1 cup softened butter until is is smooth. (You can actually start with cold butter if you have a stand mixer. Just beat a couple minutes, scraping sides, until it's smooth.)
  4. Add 2 cups packed brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes, stopping once to scrape sides and bottom.
  5. When the spiced oil is cool, add it to the butter mixture and beat well.
  6. In a medium bowl with a spout (or in one of those giant 8 cup glass measuring cups), add 5 large eggs. Beat with a whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup buttermilk*, 2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla, 1 teaspoon almond extract,** 2 tablespoons molasses, and 1/2 cup full fat sour cream. Whisk it all together until smooth.
  7. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Spoon and level 3 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour into the strainer. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon baking powder. Stir until it has all gone through the strainer and is sifted well.
  8. Alternate adding the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating every time. I added half the liquid, stirred, half the flour, stirred, then repeated.
  9. Mix ONLY until just combined. Scrape the bottom and sides to make sure it's all incorporated.
  10. Divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans.
  11. Bake the cakes at 325 for about 27-30 minutes.
  12. Notes on baking: I like to bake my cakes one at a time because my oven is not exactly amazing. I've also done 2 cakes at a time though. I wouldn't do all 3 cakes at once, unless you have a pretty stellar oven that you trust.
  13. However you choose to bake, make sure you rotate them 2/3 of the way through the bake time. This means turn the pan 180 degrees if there is one cake, or if there are two cakes, switch their places. The cake pans should NOT touch the edge of the oven.
  14. Do NOT open the oven door at all, except for when you need to rotate the pans. Rotate the pans at about the 22 minute mark. If the whole top looks completely liquidy, do not rotate yet. You don't want to deflate your cake by moving it. Again, the total bake time for each cake is about 27-30 minutes.
  15. Remove the cake/s from the oven. Let cool on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edge of the cake from the pan. Use your hand to invert the cake onto the cooling rack and continue cooling. At this point I often put them in the freezer for 20 minutes or so to speed up the cool time.
  16. When the cakes are cool or partially frozen (I find it easier to frost frozen cakes), frost with a DOUBLE batch of this Cream Cheese Frosting. You will need 2 sticks of butter, 2 packs of cream cheese, and 5-8 cups of powdered sugar, depending on how thick you want your frosting. For the cake in these photos, I used 5 cups of powdered sugar in a double batch. Click the link for recipe instructions.