Applesauce Spice Cake with Brown Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting

I love an easy weekend and I especially love an easy weekend in early fall. The air is cool, but the sun still shines warm. There’s good, fresh stuff to be had at the farmer’s market, and the trees are just turning. Everything is vivid and bright, yet warm and comforting. This weekend Sean and I took a farmer’s market stroll, rode our bikes to the library, walked the pups through our favorite foliage filled park, lounged plenty (key to easy weekending), and finished up this cake.

I made this cake late last week and sent two slices to a friend. She ate both slices for lunch, that same day. Being irresistible is almost always a good trait to have in a cake. This cake is a dream to me, lightly apple-y, spiced, and redolent with browned butter–both in the cake itself and the nutty-tangy frosting. The cake part is only lightly sweet and incredibly moist from the unsweetened applesauce. It’s dense but not heavy, and with a slick of frosting, makes the quintessential fall snack cake. It’s the kind of cake to tuck into lunch boxes or share with a cup of something warm and good conversation.

Applesauce Spice Cake w/ Brown Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from

The original recipe calls for creaming butter with sugar, I adapted it to use melted, cooled browned butter. I also upped the spices and switched up the frosting a bit, creating a nutty, buttery, slightly tangy frosting. It’s my new favorite.


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 stick unsalted butter, browned

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce


1 stick unsalted butter, browned

3 ounces cream cheese, soft

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

pinch of salt

To brown the butter: I did each stick separately, since I made the cake a several hours before the frosting. You could do them together and divide evenly in half. Place butter in a small skillet and melt over medium-low heat until the butter becomes foamy, continue to heat until foam subsides and milk solids begin to brown at the bottom of the pan. The solids will become a toffee-colored-brown and smell intensely like toffee and toasted nuts. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. Butter should be cooled, but still liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter and line an 8x8inch baking pan with parchment paper. I like to leave and overhang on two of the sides, secured with small, metal binder clips.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together browned, cooled butter with the brown sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between each, until completely incorporated. Whisk in the applesauce. Finally, using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely. Frost once the cake is completely cooled.

To make the frosting:

Beginning on low speed, using an electric mixer (hand or stand), beat together the browned butter and softened cream cheese. Add the vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar. Beat until completely combined and spread evenly over the cooled cake.





  1. says

    Ah! Your weekend sounds like the best ever. And I love that your friend ate this cake for lunch! That’s the best lunch ever. <3!

    AND your frosting is perfect!

  2. says

    Great recipe! I harvested heaps of apples last week and made apple sauce from it. Now I know what to do with all the apple sauce– trying your recipe next weekend! a good weekend needs at least 1 cake :)

  3. says

    Sometimes, food looks so good that my brain only spits out terrible internet acronyms before I can get it together.

    This time, it went: “ZOMG WTF BBQ GET IN MY MOUTH.”

    • says

      I would be wary of shipping this cake, even unfrosted. I don’t have much experience shipping cakes–I imagine it would arrive smashed. Sorry I couldn’t help on this one! Good luck :)

  4. Erica says

    This sounds delicious! I’m drooling as I type ;) I’m making it for our Thanksgiving feast this year. :) Can I refrigerated overnight? Will the cake still be good the next day? Thanks!


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