Mini Applesauce Spice Cake

Super moist and packed with warm spices, this Mini Applesauce Spice Cake makes for a fun fall treat. Enjoy it plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or go all out with a layer of orange cream cheese frosting. 

Small piece of cream cheese frosted cake on a white plate.

This tasty little cake is easy to throw together using ingredients you’ll find in the pantry and features a cozy spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. It’s made without eggs so it has a denser texture (but in a good way) like a cross between cake and quick bread.

A tangy orange cream cheese frosting pairs nicely with the spices. But if you wanted to serve the cake with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or a dusting of powdered sugar, that would be delightful too!

Bowls and ramekins of ingredients labeled on a counter.

Ingredient Notes

Applesauce: Unsweetened, homemade or storebought.

Brown Sugar: Adds moisture and highlights the flavors of the spices. If you prefer your snack cake on the not-very-sweet side the sugar can be reduced by up to 2 tablespoons without affecting the texture.

Oil: Vegetable oil, canola oil, or another neutral-tasting oil works best.

Step-By-Step Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. If using a toaster oven, adjust the cooking rack to the bottom position and select the BAKE setting. Coat a 7 x 5-inch baking dish with oil or non-stick spray.

Bowls of dry ingredients and wet ingredients with a colorful whisk.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and other spices.

3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in 2 parts, mixing just until combined and no pockets of dry flour remain. The batter will be thicker and a little lumpy looking.

Cake batter spread in a small baking dish.

4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 23 to 27 minutes. Try not to overbake the cake, as it is denser and will dry out quickly.

Small cake in a 5 x 7 baking dish.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely, about 30 minutes, before frosting or topping.

6. To make the frosting, beat the room temperature cream cheese, butter, orange zest, and vanilla with a mixer at high speed until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until incorporated.

Cream cheese frosting ingredients and blended frosting in a glass bowl.

Sifting the sugar helps to get rid of any lumpy bits resulting in a smooth and creamy frosting. If you can’t / don’t want to sift it that’s okay but the frosting will probably have some lumps – which is not the end of the world. 

7. Spread the frosting over the fully-cooled cake and dig in!

Overhead view of cream cheese frosted cake sliced in a baking dish.

Recipe Variations 

Make it into muffins: Divide the batter across a greased 6-cup muffin tin and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Add mix-ins: Stir in ¼ cup of chopped walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates before baking. 

Double it: For a larger cake, double all of the ingredients and bake in an 8 x 8 pan at 350°F. Depending on the type of pan used, the baking time may be the same or a few minutes longer (ours took 25 minutes).  

Six muffins in a tin and spice cake in an 8 x 8 pan.

More Small Batch Baking Recipes 

Small blue baking dish and plates with pieces of frosted spice cake on a table.

Mini Applesauce Spice Cake

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Packed with warm spices, this little egg-free cake is easy to whip up using ingredients from the pantry. It makes a tasty fall dessert, especially when topped with orange cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients

For The Cake

  • 1 cup (120 grams) All Purpose Flour, spooned and leveled
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup (126 grams) Unsweetened Applesauce
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 grams) Packed Brown Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) Canola Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For The Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) Cream Cheese, at room temperature (brick style, not spread from a tub)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon Orange Zest
  • ¼ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch Salt
  • ½ cup (60 grams) Confectioner's Sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. If using a toaster oven, adjust the cooking rack to the bottom position and select the BAKE setting. Coat a 7 x 5-inch baking dish with oil or non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in 2 parts, mixing until just combined. Don’t worry if the batter is a little lumpy.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (the mixture will be thick) and spread it into an even layer. Bake until the edges are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 23 to 27 minutes. Try to avoid overbaking the cake, as it is dense and will dry out quickly.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool completely, around 30 minutes.
  6. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, orange zest, and vanilla together until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Sift the confectioner's sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.
  7. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake, slice, and enjoy.

Notes

Less Sugar Option: The brown sugar can be reduced to ¼ cup total without affecting the texture. Of course, with less sugar, the cake will be less sweet.

For Muffins/Cupcakes: Bake for 13 to 15 minutes.

Leftovers? Refrigerate covered for 3 to 4 days.

Frosting Yield: The recipe makes about ½ cup of frosting (4.75 ounces or 135 grams). The frosting has a softer texture that is ideal for spreading but is not stiff enough for piping.

Recipe adapted from Joy Of Cooking's Applesauce Cake.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 Piece With Frosting
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 261Total Fat: 14.1gSaturated Fat: 5.9gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 165mgCarbohydrates: 30.8gFiber: 1.1gSugar: 14.5gProtein: 3.5g

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.