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Sour Cream Spice Cake: a Scrumptious Nod to Fall

Sour Cream Spice Cake is every­thing you love about fall bak­ing in one delec­tably sim­ple dessert. 

Sour Cream Spice Cake on a white plate.  Plate is on a marble countertop and has a fork and blue print fabric napkin next to it.  Cake is frosted with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with chopped pecans.
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Dark brown sug­ar brings carame­ly rich­ness and pecans add delight­ful tex­ture to this fla­vor­ful and fes­tive Sour Cream Spice Cake. 

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. 

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

Sour Cream Spice Cake on a white plate. Plate is on a marble countertop and has a fork and blue print fabric napkin next to it. Cake is frosted with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

The Ingredients

  • But­ter
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Apple­sauce
  • Orange, zest and juice
  • Sour Cream
  • Eggs
  • All Pur­pose Flour
  • Bak­ing Powder
  • Bak­ing Soda
  • Salt
  • Spices: Cin­na­mon, Nut­meg, Gin­ger, Cloves
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Chopped Pecans

You’re read­ing the recipe cor­rect­ly. There is only dark brown sug­ar in this cake. It cre­ates a rich­er, more carame­ly fla­vor than you would achieve with just gran­u­lat­ed 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

The Orange

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.

baked sour cream spice cake in a 9x13 cake pan

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!

  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 stand mix­er. A mix­er just makes the process quick and easy.
  2. Add the apple­sauce, sour cream, orange juice, 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.
Sour Cream Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chopped Pecans

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 icing it in the pan. 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 cream cheese frost­ing recipe.

When there’s no hint of heat left in the Sour Cream Spice Cake it’s time to fin­ish it off. 

Icing the Cake

Beat togeth­er 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. If you have extra and love them like me, it real­ly is spectacular. 

Sour Cream Spice Cake on a white plate. Plate is on a marble countertop and has a fork and blue print fabric napkin next to it. Cake is frosted with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

Storing the Cake

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. Seal it in an air­tight con­tain­er before storing.

To freeze your Sour Cream Spice Cake to enjoy on anoth­er day, dou­ble wrap the pan with alu­minum foil. Store in the freez­er up to 3 months.

How easy is that? And you guys, Sour Cream Spice Cake is scrumptious!

The Recipe

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sour cream spice cake on a serving plate

Sour Cream Spice Cake

  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 45 min­utes
  • Yield: 15-24 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 perfection!


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

More Delicious Desserts

Apple Pie

Chocolate Cake

Apple Crisp

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

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