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three layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting

three layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting


Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is one of the most classic fall desserts. The cake is made with a blend of warming spices and balanced with a tangy cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients for Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Flour – Use cake flour for a cake that is lighter and fluffier, and all-purpose flour for a cake that is a little denser.

Spices – You can substitute your favorite baking spice blend for the total amount of spices in the recipe.

Sugar – I used dark brown sugar in this cake to add moisture and flavor and to darken the color. You can also use light brown sugar, or a combination of white and brown sugars.

Oil – I like to use oil in cakes that will be stored in the refrigerator, because it will not harden as much at low temperatures as butter does. I also think it makes a fluffier cake. If you’d like to use butter, you can substitute 3/4 cup softened butter, and cream it with the sugar first before adding the eggs.


three layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting

three layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting


Notes on Technique

  • Use nonstick spray on the cake pans or grease and flour them to ensure you can get the cakes out. The best spray to use is baking spray that contains flour. If you are greasing and flouring, grease the interiors of all the pans, then stick circles of parchments into the bottoms. Grease the parchment, then pour a couple tablespoons of flour into the first pan and rotate until the interior is coated with flour. Tap the excess flour into the next greased cake pan.
  • To ensure you get a very fluffy cake, you can sift the flour before using, and then again as you add it to the batter.
  • You can tell when the cakes are done if you touch the tops lightly with a finger. If the top springs back to the touch, it is done; if your fingerprint remains sunken in, it still needs more time. Make sure to allow the cakes enough time to cool completely – about 30-45 minutes – before frosting.
  • Make sure your cream cheese and butter are well softened before mixing the frosting. This will help prevent lumps.
  • To get even cake layers, saw off the rounded tops. You can also use cake strips on the outsides of your pans to get flat tops.
  • To prevent crumbs from showing in the frosting, first assemble your cake, using a spatula or piping bag to add a thick layer of frosting in between the layers. Once the cake has been layered, apply a thin coating of frosting all over the outside of the cake. Chill the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or in the refrigerator for about 30. This will trap all of the crumbs, so they will not be visible in the final coating of frosting.


three layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting

three layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting

Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Cooling Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 20 Slices


For the Cake:

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (415 g)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace, white pepper, or black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (350 g)
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (355 ml)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make the Spice Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C.) Grease 3 9-inch cake pans and line them with parchment circles, then grease the parchment as well and coat the insides of the pans with flour. You can also use a nonstick baking spray with flour.
  • In a large bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, and mace or pepper. Continue stirring until well combined.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and oil until fully combined. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until each one is fully incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla.
  • Add about 1 cup of flour, whisking until it is only just incorporated, then whisk in about 1/2 cup of milk. Continue whisking in the flour and milk alternately until the batter is fully combined, being careful not to overmix.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the 3 prepared pans and bake at 350° F (180° C) for about 24-27 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes spring back when touched. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for at least 45 minutes before frosting.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium high until fluffy. Add the butter and continue mixing, starting on low and increasing to medium high, until the butter and cream cheese are fully combined and there are no lumps. Next, add about 1 cup of the powdered sugar, along with the salt, and mix until fully incorporated. Continue mixing in about 1 cup of the powdered sugar at a time, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy. Finally, mix in the vanilla until it is fully incorporated.
  • Trim the tops of the cakes so that they are flat. Place the first cake layer on your serving plate, then spread or pipe an even layer of frosting on top. Repeat with the second layer. After placing the third layer, apply a thin layer of crumb coating all over the cake, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes or freeze for about 10. Next, add the rest of the frosting to the top and sides of the cake, using a spatula to create swirl patterns. Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Keyword cake, cream cheese frosting, fall, winter