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Sour Cream Spice Cake: a Scrumptious Nod to Fall

sour cream spice cake on a serving plate
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Sour Cream Spice Cake is every­thing you love about fall bak­ing in one delec­tably sim­ple dessert. The warm spices we asso­ciate with autumn and the hol­i­days, (name­ly cin­na­mon, nut­meg, gin­ger and clove), are del­i­cate­ly bal­anced with cit­rus. in this moist and ten­der cake. Dark brown sug­ar brings carame­ly rich­ness and pecans add delight­ful texture. 

The vel­vety smooth cream cheese frost­ing is Sour Cream Spice Cake’s crown­ing glo­ry. Mmmmm…you’re going to love it!

A Note About the Ingredients

You’re read­ing the recipe cor­rect­ly. There is only dark brown sug­ar in this cake. It cre­ates a rich­er, more carame­ly fla­vor that you would­n’t achieve with just white sugar.

The sour cream is impor­tant, again for rich­ness, but also for mois­ture in this bat­ter. You could prob­a­bly sub­sti­tute plain Greek yogurt, though I haven’t tried that in this recipe.

orange zest for sour cream spice cake

I used a large orange for this recipe. It net­ted me well over 1/3 cup of juice, but not quite a half cup. Be sure to zest the orange before juic­ing it. If you just have orange juice in the fridge and want to use that, you could make it work, but the real cit­rus fla­vor comes from the oils in the zest. In my opin­ion, omit­ting it will def­i­nite­ly change the flavor.

The apple­sauce does­n’t add tons of apple fla­vor. It is more for mois­ture and to cut back on the amount of fat need­ed. I use unsweet­ened because that’s my pref­er­ence. If you have sweet­ened apple­sauce on hand, it should be fine.

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sour cream spice cake on a serving plate

Sour Cream Spice Cake

  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 45 min­utes
  • Yield: 12-15 serv­ings 1x


If fall and the hol­i­days could be baked into a cake, this moist and deli­cious spice cake would be it! The light cit­rus notes are a beau­ti­ful com­ple­ment to the warm spices and the tangy cream cheese frost­ing is pefection!


Units Scale
  • 1 cup but­ter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweet­ened applesauce
  • 1 large orange, zest and juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all pur­pose flour
  • 1 tea­spoon bak­ing powder
  • 1 tea­spoon bak­ing soda
  • 1 tea­spoon salt
  • 2 Table­spoons cinnamon
  • 1 tea­spoon nutmeg
  • 1 tea­spoon ginger
  • 1/2 tea­spoon cloves
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 recipe Cream Cheese Frost­ing (see in notes)


  1. Pre­heat oven to 350° and grease a 9x13 cake pan.
  2. Cream the but­ter and brown sug­ar togeth­er in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. Add the apple sauce, sour cream, eggs, orange juice, zest and vanil­la and beat until the ingre­di­ents are incorporated.
  4. Add the flour, bak­ing pow­der, bak­ing soda and spices.  Mix until the dry ingre­di­ents are ful­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the batter.
  5. Mix in the pecans.
  6. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan, for 35–45 min­utes at 350°.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven when the edges have pulled slight­ly away from the sides of the pan and a tooth­pick insert­ed in the cen­ter comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cake, in the pan, on a cool­ing rack.
  9. When com­plete­ly cool, frost it with one recipe of Cream Cheese Frost­ing (recipe in the notes, below) and if desired, sprin­kle with a few addi­tion­al chopped pecans.


Cream Cheese Frost­ing Recipe (enough to ice a cake in a 9x13 pan)

In the bowl of your stand mix­er beat a soft­ened 8 oz bar of cream cheese, 1 Table­spoon of vanil­la, and 1 pound of pow­dered (con­fec­tion­ers) sug­ar, until the frost­ing is smooth and creamy.  If the con­sis­ten­cy is too thick for you, add 1–3 tea­spoons of milk, a tea­spoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.

Frost your com­plete­ly cooled cake.

  • Prep Time: 10 min­utes
  • Cook Time: 35 min­utes
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Dessert, Cake
  • Method: Bak­ing
  • Cui­sine: Amer­i­can

How to Make Sour Cream Spice Cake

You won’t believe how easy this spice cake is to make and how quick­ly it comes together!

baked sour cream spice cake in a 9x13 cake pan
  1. Start by cream­ing the but­ter and brown sug­ar togeth­er in the bowl of your *stand mix­er. You can cer­tain­ly whip this up by hand, but I used my Bosch. A mix­er just makes the process quick and easy.
  2. Add the apple­sauce, sour cream, orange juice and zest, eggs and vanil­la. Mix until they are well incorporated.
  3. Mix in the flour, bak­ing pow­der, bak­ing soda, salt and spices.
  4. When the bat­ter is mixed, stir in the chopped pecans.
  5. Bake the sour cream spice cake in a 350° oven.

Finishing Your Spice Cake

The Sour Cream Spice Cake will need to cool on a rack. Unless I’m mak­ing this for some spe­cial occa­sion, I leave it right in the pan to ice it. The recipe in the card, below, makes the per­fect amount of Cream Cheese Frost­ing for that sce­nario. If you are bak­ing the cake in two lay­ers, or you are remov­ing the 9x13 from the pan to ice the sides, too, you will need to dou­ble the frost­ing recipe.

Sour Cream Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chopped Pecans

When there’s no hint of heat left in the cake it’s time to fin­ish it off. Beat up the soft­ened sour cream, vanil­la, milk and pow­dered sug­ar for the most deli­cious Cream Cheese Frosting. 

Spread the frost­ing over the Sour Cream Spice Cake. I like to sprin­kle a few extra chopped pecans over the top, because well…delicious. You do you. I you have extra and love them like me, it real­ly is spec­tac­u­lar. I keep this cake in the fridge because I love how it tastes served cold. Not a neces­si­ty, but in my opin­ion, it’s when it’s at its ulti­mate best.

How easy is that? And you guys, it’s SO good!

sour cream spice cake with cream cheese frosting

Some Other Great Desserts You’ll Love

Apple Crisp

Date and Wal­nut Cookies

date and walnut filled cookies

Home­made Choco­late Pudding

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