Old Fashioned Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

This is an easy spice cake recipe with old-fashioned flavor from cloves, cinnamon, and allspice, topped with a simple cream cheese frosting with added caramel. 

slice of layered spice cake with caramel cream cheese frosting on white plaid with fall plaid tablecloth in background

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

The best cake for fall and winter. Is there anything better than fall and winter flavors for cakes? I think not. Be gone, boring chocolate and vanilla. This type of year we are baking pumpkin and gingerbread, molasses and peppermint, and the ever-popular spice. This recipe is everything you love about warm fall spices, without being too much. The texture is super light and moist, and the icing is perfect. Not too sweet with a hint of caramel.

Moist and soft. This old-fashioned spice cake is made totally from scratch but mixes up just as quickly as something from a boxed mix. I always find vegetable oil-based cakes to be softer and moister than butter-based cakes, so I started with vegetable oil and plenty of sugar to get the texture I was looking for.

Versatile recipe. This recipe calls for cake flour, but if you don’t have any, you can substitute a mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch to get a similarly soft texture.  

Well-balanced spice. The spices are not overpowering, but you can definitely taste them.  This is something that can be adjusted to your taste and you can absolutely increase the spices by about 25% if you prefer a more intense spice flavor.  

You may notice that there are no molasses in this recipe.  I found that adding molasses made the cake taste more like gingerbread, even though I love that flavor and love the color added, I wanted the flavor of the spices to shine through.

The classic pairing for spice cake is cream cheese frosting, and this recipe adds a little jarred caramel sauce for a super delicious combination.  

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients for old fashioned spice cake laid out on marble counter

You’ll need the following for this old-fashioned spice cake:

  • vegetable oil
  • granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • cake flour see notes for substitutions
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • ground ginger
  • allspice
  • milk
  • parchment
  • baking spray
  • mixing bowl
  • wire rack


Step One: preheat the oven and prepare cake pans

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your cake pans.  You can do this as a sheet cake or 2 eight inch rounds. I line the pan with parchment paper and then spray the parchment with cooking spray.  If you’ve ever had a cake ruined by sticking to the pan, you know this is NOT overkilling!

round cake pans lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray, on marble counter

Step Two: combine ingredients

Then simply beat the oil and sugar on medium speed in a large mixing bowl and add the eggs, one by one, making sure the batter is well blended after each egg.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk.  The batter will be thin.

light yellow spice cake batter in round cake pan

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  

Step three: make the frosting

Make sure you start with well-softened cream cheese and butter for easily blending and no lumps.

Start by beating the butter and cream cheese together, then add the caramel sauce and the vanilla.

finished caramel cream cheese icing in white bowl on marble counter

Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and blend until well combined.

If you are looking for an “authentic” stovetop caramel icing, that works with this cake too. See my caramel Bundt cake recipe for my favorite caramel icing.

Step Four: decorating

To be perfectly honest with you, decorating cakes is not really my thing. (Obviously.) But if you start with a cooled cake with flat layers, you’ll be fine.

Make sure the icing is not so soft that it would slide off the cake. If you want to firm it up a little, pop it in the fridge for fifteen minutes.

Then simply layer frosting in between the cake layers, and frost the sides and top.

Spice cake is best when made a day ahead of time to let the spice flavor intensify.

freshly baked spice cake with caramel frosting

🥫 Storage instructions

This recipe is designed with the intent of making it simple and easy to store. If storing the cake after frosting it, it will keep up to 3 days.

🔍 FAQs

Can I freeze this cake?

Yes. After the cake has completely cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap firmly and place it in the freezer for up to three months.

Can I use salted butter for this spice cake?

Unsalted butter is the best as you can control the level of salt.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Make sure to just combine the wet and dry ingredients briefly while combining them.
  • To prevent your frosting from melting and sliding off the cake, wait until the cake has completely cooled before frosting it.
  • For a salted caramel delight, lightly sprinkle the top with flaked sea salt.

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📖 Here’s the recipe

Old Fashioned Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Serving Size 12 pieces


  • Spice cake
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour see notes for substitutions
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup milk

Caramel cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/3 cup jarred caramel sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center.  Prepare cake pan with parchment and/ or baking spray.
  • Beat the sugar and vegetable oil with an electric mixer on medium speed in a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  • Add the milk and dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, alternating between the milk and the flour mixture.  Mix on low until just combined.  Batter will be thin.
  • Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool on wire rack completely before frosting.  Frost and refrigerate until serving.


  • If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • Like many recipes with spices, this cake is best when made a day before serving.
  • This recipe will fit in a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan or 2 (8 inch) round or square cake pans.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made this recipe twice and I loved the taste but it was dry so the second time I used two ripe bananas mashed and an extra egg was great thank you it was happy memories of my grandma.

  2. 3 stars
    Made the old fashioned spice cake with cream cheese caramel icing twice. The cake itself has a nice flavor but I found it to be somewhat dry and slightly heavy.

  3. Oh I am totally going to make this cake. I had no idea that you could substitute cake flour with all purpose flour and cornstarch. I also like that it’s not too sweet! Yummy!!!