Apple Spice Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

This Fresh Apple Spice Cake needs to be on your holiday dessert table! There’s no layering involved, and the cream cheese frosting takes just minutes to whip up!

Super moist Maple Apple Spice Cake infused with sweet maple syrup, bursting with Fall spices, walnuts (optional) and smothered in silky cream cheese frosting.  Everyone loves this cake! 

Maple Apple Spice Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting being cut into with a fork.

Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

With Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to give you one more AH-mazing option to bring.  As if you needed any more options!

This super moist Maple Apple Spice Cake is a favorite at our house.  In fact, I told Patrick he could have a “little” because I hadn’t taken pictures yet, and I came back to the whole right side of the cake devoured — you can kind of see the jagged edge on the picture below.  I totally understand, Patrick.  I totally understand.

This cake is irresistible warm, right out of the oven, frosting-less (seriously, grab your fork!) and irresistible dressed up with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting and a sprinkling of walnuts.

What makes this cake so extra special is that I replaced half of the sugar with pure maple syrup and a couple splashes of molasses, so along with the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, this cake is oozing with flavor (just try to resist the batter!).  Add in the sweeetly tart Granny Smith apples and the crunchy walnuts, smother with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting also infused with maple syrup, and you have an unbelievably moist, Fall apple cake lover’s dream OR any dessert lover’s dream.

Super moist Maple Apple Spice Cake.  Another reason to give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Top view of Maple Apple Spice Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting with walnuts on top.

Apple Spice Cake Ingredients

The ingredients list for this apple walnut cake looks lengthy, but that’s because I packed it with loads of fall spices! Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy apple cake:

  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves and salt deliver sensational flavorful.
  • All-purpose flour: I have not experimented with gluten free flour, but I assume gluten-free 1 to 1 flour like Bob’s Red Mill would work great I do not recommend cake flour or self-rising flour or you will need to change the baking powder/baking soda, etc.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: Take care that both are fresh, (throw out after 6-12 months) so it works!
  • Granulated sugar: Sweetens the cake but doesn’t add flavor like the maple syrup does.
  • Butter: You need 1 stick of butter for this recipe. Make sure it’s been softened to room temperature before starting the recipe.
  • Maple syrup: Use pure maple syrup and not imitation maple syrup (like what you pour on pancakes).
  • Molasses: Use a mild molasses, not blackstrap molasses.
  • Vanilla extract: Use quality vanilla for best results.
  • Eggs: You will need 2 large eggs and 3 egg yolks at room temperature.  They provide structure and binding properties. 
  • Sour cream: Full-fat sour cream will deliver the best results.
  • Apples: I used Granny Smith apples, but any tart baking apple will work.
  • Walnuts: Optional, but highly recommended!
  • Cream cheese: Use brick-style cream cheese that’s been softened to room temperature.
  • Powdered sugar: Sift the powdered sugar before adding it to the cream cheese frosting to avoid lumps.
Showing how to make Maple Apple Spice Cake by adding Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

How to Make Apple Spice Cake

The fresh apple cake and spice cake frosting are both incredibly easy to make. Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. To the butter mixture, beat in the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla until well combined, followed by eggs, then egg yolks.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture in thirds, alternately with sour cream in between each third, beating until just combined after each addition.
  5. Fold in the apples and walnuts.
  6. Turn the batter into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake until done.
  7. Let the cake cool completely, then top with maple cream cheese frosting.

Tips for Making Fresh Apple Cake

  • Use correct pan size. It is important that you use the correct pan size or the cake will not bake properly.   
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray: I always use nonstick cooking spray with flour and have never had a problem with any of my cakes sticking – super quick, easy and effective!
  • Parchment Paper:  Lining the cake pans with parchment paper ensures no sticking!
  • Don’t pack flour: Whenever you measure flour, don’t scoop the flour directly from the container or else the flour will compress – and packed flour = more flour, which = denser, drier cakes.  Instead, scoop flour into measuring cup and then level, without packing or tapping
  • Room temperature ingredients: It is essential to use room temperature sour cream, butter, cream cheese, and eggs. Room temperature ingredients whisk together more easily and are hard to over mix, resulting in a softer, fluffier, more tender cake. Cold eggs result in a dry, denser cake.

Recipe Variations to Try

  • Use different nuts: I love making this as an apple walnut cake, but pecans would also be delicious here.
  • Enjoy unfrosted: I LOVE the maple cream cheese frosting, but you could also enjoy this fresh apple spice cake sans frosting. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy like you would a coffee cake!
  • Experiment with maple extract: This easy apple cake is plenty maple-y enough for me, but if you have maple extract on hand you could add a small splash to the batter and / or frosting to take things up a notch.
Side view of a slice of fresh apple cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Can I Prep This Apple Spice Cake in Advance?

Absolutely! This fresh apple cake tastes exponentially better after a few hours of assembling, so I highly recommend making ahead of time and covering with a cake cover.  If the cake has been refrigerated, let it come to room temperature (about 1-2 hours) before serving. 

You can also bake the cake the day before you plan on frosting it. Let cake layers cool completely, then tightly wrap the layers individually in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

How to Store Fresh Apple Cake

This apple spice cake with cream cheese frosting should be stored in an airtight container or well-covered with plastic wrap to protect it from drying out.  It can be stored at room temperature (if less than 70 degrees F) for two days, or will last in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

Let cake (slices) come to room temperature before serving, or I like to microwave mine for 10-15 seconds.

Can I Freeze Apple Cake?

To freeze FROSTED Apple Spice Cake:

  1. If you are planning on freezing, then prep/frost your cake on a freezer safe plate/platter.
  2. Place frosted cake in the freezer until it is firm to the touch.
  3. Once firm, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then repeat with a second layer of plastic wrap. Next wrap tightly in 1-2 layers of foil until completely sealed.
  4. If you are freezing individual slices, then place these plastic/foil wrapped slices in a freezer bag. If you are freezing your entire apple cake for an extended period of time, then secure the aluminum foil with freezer tape to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Frozen cake can be stored for up to 4 months.

To freeze UNFROSTED Apple Spice Cake:

  1. Let the cake cool completely.
  2. Double wrap in plastic wrap, then in 1-2 layers of foil until completely sealed. 
  3. Freeze cake for up to 3 months.   
  4. Allow the cake to thaw overnight in the refrigerator then unwrap and come to room temperature on the counter before frosting.
Close up of Maple Apple Spice Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting with a bit on a fork.

Looking for More Apple Desserts?

Super moist Maple Apple Spice Cake infused with sweet maple, bursting with Fall spices, walnuts (optional) and smothered in silky cream cheese frosting. Everyone loves this cake!

Maple Apple Spice Cake

Servings: 16 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Maple Apple Spice Cake

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground cloves, ground ginger, ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, and diced into 1/4” - 1/2” pieces
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon reserved Spices (in directions)
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper that extends beyond the pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Mix cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Remove ½ teaspoon for the frosting. To the large bowl, mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar over medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. With mixer running on medium speed, beat in maple syrup, molasses and vanilla until well combined followed by eggs, then egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each egg.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture in thirds, alternately with sour cream in between each third, beating until just combined after each addition. Stir in apples and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F until a wood pick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean, 34 - 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours before frosting OR serve warm directly right out of the oven without frosting.
  • Maple Frosting: Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and reserved ½ teaspoon spices at medium high speed until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar ½ cup at a time then beat until very fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add either more maple syrup if frosting is too thick or more sugar if too thin to reach desired consistency. Evenly spread frosting over cake and sprinkle with chopped walnuts (optional).
  • Refrigerate cake for up to 5 days and bring to room temperature before serving.

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14 Comments

  1. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! OMG this is y my kind of cake – rich and dense! And the cream cheese frosting takes it over the top! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Patrick – holidays are always my “excuse” to eat until I think I’m going to explode! But I always save room for dessert! 🙂

    • Jen says

      I hope you had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving Dorothy and didn’t explode :)! I am sure your Thanksgiving guests loved all your food! xo

  2. Teri Giese says

    Girlfriend,wish I would have had more time this week to scam on my fave blogs!! This cake looks so yummy, and I had a major dessert fail last night! Turkey is dry brining,stuffing is ready to bake, green beans prepped, cranberries chopped and ready to go into a fluff. Even made him made mac and cheese for a light lunch. Since Mr. Muffintop loved the sluttier brownies I made before, decided to make a slutty brownie pie. And make it sluttier (hope not offending you with all the slut talk), with a drizzle of your caramel topping/sauce.Well,all looked awesome with the pie. Decided to put it on a baking sheet(thank goodness), in case it dripped. Dripped? It plopped and bubbled and came to life!! uggh! Read fine print, place crust in a DEEPDISH pie plate. OOPS. So maybe I can make your cake in the a.m.Thanks,you and the fam, and Kiwi, (I want a dog like that oh so bad, my fave breed), be blessed tomorrow and always. Big Hugs

    • Jen says

      Hi Teri, Big hugs to you! It sounds like you had a super busy Thanksgiving prep day – and besides the major dessert fail – I hope it all turned out wonderful and delicious and that you had a very Happy Thanksgiving! Your slutty pie idea does sound delicious though – hopefully it will work for you in a deep dish pie – I might have to play with that 🙂 If you decide to try this cake sometime – I don’t think you will be disappointed ! Best to you and yours and Kiwi sends you a hug! ps I totally get your love of Frenchies- I will never get another breed!

  3. Laura Dembowski says

    I swear I can taste this cake melting in my mouth with that luscious cream cheese frosting. The cake looks absolutely wonderful, the best I have seen in a long time!

    • Jen says

      You are too sweet Laura! You descriptive comment makes me want to eat this all over again – thank you!!!

  4. Mary says

    Can you do this without parchment paper?

    • Jen says

      Hi Mary! You certainly can make this without parchment paper – you will just need to grease and flour your pan well. Enjoy!

  5. lauren says

    Can the molasses be omitted or replaced with something else?

    • Jen says

      Hi Lauren, you could substitute more maple syrup in its place – won’t be quite the same but still good!

  6. Jane says

    Can this recipe be made into cupcakes? How long would they bake if it is possible? Thanks

    • Jen says

      Certainly! The best guess I have at baking the cupcakes is between 20-30 minutes as I haven’t done it before. Hope that helps!

  7. sara says

    Hi Does this cake freeze ok without the icing? I want to make mini cakes for gifts .

    • Jen says

      Hi Sara, I’m so sorry for my delayed response as I have been swamped for the holidays. Yes this cake freezes well. Merry Christmas!