Apple Spice Cake With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

by Kaylene
16 servings
1 hr

This apple spice cake is the perfect dessert to enjoy during the beautiful fall months. It uses fresh apples, fall spices with sweet vanilla buttercream frosting.

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Fall is my favorite season for many reasons. The crisp weather, the colorful scenery but most of all the food! I have so much fun creating fall moments with food, like enjoying a piece of apple maple galette next to the fireplace or enjoying an apple cider bourbon smash while on a fall walk. Fall is all about slowing down and enjoying the moments…every moment of me stuffing my face full of fall treats.

Among all the fall flavors out there, apple has to be one of my favorites. We have a few apple trees on the property, and we just planted 10 more this past spring. It is now a tradition to pick apples every year early in the season and use the apples as many ways as we can. We preserve them by making homemade apple butter or making delicious desserts to enjoy, like this apple spice cake.

When I started planning this cake, I knew I wanted it to be packed full of classic fall spices. I’ve got to say guys, I am pretty proud of this cake. The spices are so on point, the fall flavors are in every bite and the apples are subtle but a sweet addition.

I’ll be honest, a tiered cake isn’t something I make often, but it is so much fun to create. Baking cake can be intimidating, especially the decorating part. Coming from someone who is not a cake expert, it doesn’t have to be difficult! Plus, so worth it, I mean who doesn’t love a big slice of cake?

To make the decorating easy, but still create a beautiful cake I chose to frost my cake with the naked look. I think it is so fitting for a fall cake, very rustic and colorful. By frosting the cake with this look, it makes it much easier and you don’t have to worry about mistakes. As I said, I am no expert and was able to create a beautiful naked cake. Check out this tutorial from Chelsweets on cake frosting. She lays it out so simply and makes frosting a cake so easy.

Tips to Baking (and decorating!) the Perfect Cake

  • Use parchment paper. When preparing your cake pans, always grease the pan and then add a parchment paper round. Place the parchement paper round in the greased pan and grease or use cooking spray over it. It seems like a lot, but it is important so that your cake comes out clean.

  • Room tempurature ingredients. Using room temperature ingredients is important to keep the delicate balance of baking science well, balanced. Most recipes will note if the ingredient should be room tempurature and if it is noted, follow it. For most cake recipes, the ingredients that should be room temurature are eggs, sour cream, butter, and buttermilk/milk.

    Room tempurature ingredients bond together better and with some ingredients, like butter allows it to trap air better which is what makes the cake fluffy. Also, think about it like this. If you are beating ingredients that are room temp. and then you add cold ingredients, it can, in simple terms shock the whole process. Put your ingredients out about 1-2 hours before you plan to use it.

  • Don’t over mix. When mixing your batter together, make sure to mix just until the ingredients are combined. Over-mixing can lead to a dense and tough cake. Over-mixing causes the air (which makes the cake fluffy) to escape and the gluten to be over-developed. Gluten in flour will “develop” the more you mix or knead it (think of how tough bread is, that is because the gluten has been developed from kneading). Since cake should be fluffy you don’t want the gluten to be over developed, so only mix until there are no more flour lumps.

  • Allow the cake to completely cool in the pan. This is another important one to ensure your cake comes out clean. Also, trying to frost a cake that isn’t completely cooled is a recipe for disaster. Allowing it to cool completely in the pan gives the cake time to settle and shrink up so it is easier to remove. If you greased the pan and used parchment paper as descibed above, the cake should fall right out.
  • Crumb coat. A crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting applied to “glue” the crumbs down and seal in the cake’s moisture. Once your cake is cooled, add a thin first layer of frosting on the cake and then allow to cool in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. It’s basically like a primer for your cake. Once the crumb coat is dry, you can add your final layer of frosting. This will ensure that the frosting looks smooth and perfect with no small crumbs showing through.

  • Simple decorating. Frosting and decorating a cake can sometimes be the hardest part. How often have you had a picture perfect cake idea in your head only to have it turn out not so perfect? Practice makes perfect when it comes to cake decorating. If you are making the cake for you, take it as an opportunity to practice and don’t worry about it looking perfect. If you are making the cake for others and you aren’t confident in your decorating skills, try a naked cake. Frosting a naked cake makes room for error. Also, choose simple decor for the top like fresh flowers or sprinkles.

Favorite Cake Tools

8″ Cake Pans

Fat Daddio

Icing Angled Spatulas

Fun Young

Wood Cake Stand

Hearth & Hand

Dough Scraper


Apple Spice Cake With Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Recipe details
  • 16  servings
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 1 hr
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  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk - room temperature
  • 3 egg whites - room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk - room temperature
  • 2 apples peeled and shredded
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4-5 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
Apple Spice Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with butter, shortening, or spray. Line with parchment paper, then grease or spray with cooking spray.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt into a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the oil, buttermilk until smooth. Add the egg whites and yolk and, shredded apples and beat until smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients just until combined and there are no lumps, do not overmix. The batter should be thick but pourable.
Pour the batter evenly among the 3 cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove and let cool almost completely in the pan. Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Allow the cakes cool completely before frosting.
Once the cake is completely cooled, place one layer on a plate, cake stand, or rotating stand. Spread frosting until half-inch thick, using a dough scraper or flat knife smooth the frosting until level. Repeat for second layer.
Place the third cake layer by flipping it and placing it top down. This gives you sharp edges for the top of your cake. Frost the cake sides and top using an icing spatula or flat knife and a dough scraper to smooth and level.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy.
Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Add the vanilla extract and add the cream until the frosting is smooth but still holds it's shape.
  • If you want thick layers of frosting, double the frosting recipe
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