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Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

I am a healthy eater most of the time, but this apple spice cake is worth the splurge! Every year, I treasure the opportunity to make my own birthday cake, and I choose this. You can add a cup of raisins to the batter before baking if you'd like. —Jennifer Owen, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 35 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 4 medium Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 2 greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease paper.
  • Place apples in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, pie spice, baking powder and salt; gradually beat into sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in apples and walnuts.
  • Transfer to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, sugars, vanilla and pie spice until smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Gently press walnuts into frosting on top of cake. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 574 calories, 33g fat (9g saturated fat), 53mg cholesterol, 326mg sodium, 67g carbohydrate (51g sugars, 2g fiber), 7g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • Kelly
    Oct 6, 2020

    I was a little concerned as I read the not so good reviews after I started baking. This cake is awesome!! Homemade texture for sure! Taste is spot on! The recipe is so exact that I didn't even have left over frosting to discard. The true test will be my sweet connoisseur hubby but I'm thinking he will not be sharing with the neighbors lol.

  • Therese
    Sep 20, 2020

    I really liked the flavor of the cake, but the frosting was too surgery. (And yes I used powdered sugar and brown sugar.) If I made this again I would probably bake in a 9x13 cake pan and make a different frosting.

  • Jane
    Sep 15, 2020

    I made this cake yesterday. I can't call it a spice cake as it was really a nut cake. 3 cups total, really? I cut it down to 2 cups total, so still one and a half cups were too much in the cake, reserved half cup on the frosting. Was a little dense, but happy I cut the sugar to one and a half cups! By the way, by the time I got the frosting creamy without the sugary grit, my mixer burnt out! Frosting delicious though.

  • JEAN
    Sep 15, 2020

    I made this recipe exactly as instructed. Taste was ok, but the texture was like a soggy brick. Somewhat labor intensive with the apples and all but would have been worth it if it turned out like the picture. Expensive with all the ingredients but it looked and sounded so good I couldn't resist. Couldn't eat it and threw it out. Been cooking many years and can't remember flops like this. Too sad.

  • Florence
    Sep 13, 2020

    Just made this recipe. It’s DELICIOUS!??!!! I did use Macintosh apples since I already had them. Then I made 12 cupcakes & a 7x9 cake to freeze for another time. A perfect fall treat. Thanks Taste if Home! ??

  • Nonnok
    Sep 12, 2020

    I made this incredible cake exactly as written and it was amazing. Regarding the frosting, I did need to add an additional cup of powdered sugar to spread it without it sliding off the cake. After refrigerating, the texture was perfect. And it was so pretty!

  • Kevin
    Sep 11, 2020

    I am so sorry to say this but need to give you my rating. I am a life long baker and spent much careful time with this recipe. In the photo, it looks really great. However the cafe turned out like a heavy soggy brick. Frosting was good. I just was disappointed since I spent so much time in baking it.

  • Mary
    Sep 10, 2020

    I made this recipe into cupcakes. It worked well. I will say that they are not light and fluffy cake in texture. However they are a combination of muffin and pie in texture. The flavor is spot on and I enjoyed the unusual but delicious texture. The frosting was excellent. The cream cheese gave a nice balance to the sweetness of the sugars. I will serve them to my family this weekend as we have an outside and masked safe distancing get together. Stay safe all!

  • Su
    Sep 9, 2020

    Honeycrisp is not a cooking apple so the texture is mush...2 cups of sugar in the cake and 2 more cups sugar in the frosting....thats crazy! NOT a real spice apple cake...yuck!!

  • Adele
    Sep 9, 2020

    I think for the icing, I would be inclined to melt down butter and brown sugar in a pot until it boils. Then, cool to room temperature and proceed as indicated.