Go Back
+ servings
slice of spice cake on plate

Spice Cake

This warm and moist spice cake recipe is put over the top with figs, pistachios and a brown butter buttercream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16
Calories 612kcal
Author Ryan Beck



  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (318 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • ½ cup roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 5-6 fresh figs, sliced

Brown Butter Buttercream

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour them.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, blend the brown sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until combined.
  • With mixer on low speed, add ½ of the flour mixture and blend until combined. Blend in buttermilk and then add remaining flour mixture and blend until just combined.
  • Pour the batter evenly in the two cake pans and bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes in pan. Run knife round edges of the pan and invert on cooling racks. Let cool completely before using.
  • To make the buttercream frosting, add 2 sticks butter to a skillet and set over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown lightly until it smells toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the butter to the mixing bowl, letting it cool until it is at room temperature.
  • Add the remaining stick of butter, mascarpone, powdered sugar and salt and beat the butter and powdered sugar together until the butter is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
  • To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread ¼ of the buttercream over the cake. Add dried figs and chopped pistachios. Top with 2nd cake layer and frost the top and outside of the cake. Place sliced figs on top. Chill for 30 minutes. Serve, or store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. 


  • Do not skip the buttermilk as it helps create the moistness you expect from cake. If you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own. Use whole milk mixed with ¼ teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk. Fill a measuring cup with the lemon juice/vinegar then the rest with whole milk to reach ¼ cup + 2 tbsp.
  • If you don’t have applesauce, you can either replace with Greek yogurt or vegetable oil.
  • All refrigerated items should be at room temperature, which helps the batter mix easily and evenly.
  • You may not realize this but baking powder and baking soda actually expires pretty quickly. Use baking powder that is less than a year old since it has been opened. If you use older baking powder, it won’t be powerful enough to help leaven the cake. You can test it by stirring half a teaspoon of baking powder into a cup of hot water. It will immediately start to fizz and release carbon dioxide gas if it’s still fresh enough to use. Baking soda should be less than six months old and you can use the same test.
  • You know cake is done when you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to completely cool before adding the frosting, otherwise it will melt.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 612kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 352mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 54g