This super moist spice cake is baked with apple butter, fresh apples, and topped with whipped cream cheese frosting. It’s filled with warm spices, making it the perfect cake to make this fall!
What makes this apple butter spice cake SO good
This is my new favorite cake of the season! It just has everything going for it – it’s moist, flavorful, warm, cozy, and topped with whipped cream cheese frosting. What more could you ask for?? If you need any more convincing outside of my favorite adjectives, here’s what makes this apple butter spice cake so special:
- Apple Butter – It’s has all the warm flavors of traditional spice AND ALSO apple butter! It’s baked right into the cake, and adds so much richness to both the flavor and texture. I’ve also mixed in some shredded apple to enhance that delicious apple flavor even more.
- Spices – Of course, a spice cake isn’t a spice cake without its spices. This recipe is filled with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and even cardamom. They play so well with the apple butter to create a SUPER flavorful spice sheet cake.
- Ease – Since this is a sheet cake recipe, this entire cake is so quick and easy to make. The batter is mixed by hand and baked to perfection.
- Consistency – Between the added apples, apple butter, and oil, this spice cake is SUPER moist but still remains soft and fluffy.
Tips for making apple butter spice cake
While this is an easy recipe, there are a few things to look out for while making the batter:
- Properly measure the dry ingredients – I say this in every post, and for good reason. It’s the number one reason why most recipes fail. If there’s too much flour, the cake will turn out dry and crumbly. If you can, measure the flour with a food scale. Otherwise, to ensure you use the exact amount needed, gently spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level if off with a flat edge. If you scoop directly into the flour container, this packs it down into the cup which could leave you with 1/4 cup or more of added dry ingredients.
- Use a mild oil – This recipe calls for vegetable oil, but you can also use any mild-flavored oil like canola or even refined coconut oil. Stay away from olive oil, peanut oil, or any other oil with a deeper flavor.
- Don’t over mix – The batter is mixed by hand, so it’s hard to over mix it. But just so we’re on the same page, you can mix vigorously when it’s only the wet ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are added, mix just until they’re fully blended into the batter. If the batter is over mixed, it will have trouble rising and could cave in the center.
- Toothpick test – When it’s fully baked, it should have a golden and glossy surface that’s slightly puffed in the center. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. If it comes out clean with a few moist crumbs, it’s perfectly baked.
What is the best apple butter to use?
I use store bought apple butter in this recipe, simply because I didn’t want to mess with making it from scratch! But you have a recipe you love, go ahead and use the from-scratch version. Otherwise, any store bought apple butter will do. Just try and find one that has a deep and rich amber color as those are the most flavorful.
How to make whipped cream cheese frosting
I don’t know which I love more, the cake or the whipped cream cheese frosting with swirls of apple butter. Let’s call it a tie because of how well they work together!
The frosting is unique, because typical cream cheese frosting is made with softened cream cheese. This ensures that the frosting turns out smooth and silky. But for whipped cream cheese frosting, it’s important to use CHILLED cream cheese.
Why? Because there isn’t tons and tons of powdered sugar in the frosting. In fact, there’s just 1/2 cup granulated sugar. In frosting, powdered sugar is used to thicken and stabilize it. For this, half of the frosting is made with whipped cream which could very easily turn it into cream cheese soup.
But with chilled cream cheese, the cool temperature not only helps WHIP the whipped cream but it also ensures a thick frosting. In order to ensure it’s lump-free, the cream cheese is mixed with just the sugar at the beginning. The granules help smooth out the cream cheese, leaving you with a silky frosting that spreads beautifully.
Can this recipe be made gluten free?
Although I haven’t tested it, I would assume that a good quality gluten free baking flour could be used in place of the all purpose flour. Just make sure to weigh the flour instead of measuring as it’s very easy to use way too much gluten free flour due to its density. I always bake with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour. And since it’s a sheet cake, this recipe can be pretty forgiving because all you have to do is bake and slice!
Can this recipe be made dairy free?
Yes, the only ingredient in the cake that contains dairy is the milk which can easily be swapped with any milk alternative like almond or oat.
As for the frosting, I would suggest using a store bought vegan frosting like Simple Mills vanilla frosting. I have doubts that vegan cream cheese and vegan heavy cream could whip into the consistency that it needs to be.
How to store apple butter spice cake
There are two routes you can take. First, you can bake the cake the day before and frost it the next day. Just cover the sheet pan with a lid or plastic wrap and chill.
To store the cake after it’s frosted, also ensure that it’s covered and keep it in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week as the oil helps keep it moist.
For more fall cake recipes, check out my:
- Spice Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- Apple Cider Cake
- Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Walnut Apple Crumble Cake
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and leave a review below if you make this apple butter spice cake. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print