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Gluten-Free Spice Cake (Dairy-Free)

As soon as I start to notice the days getting a tad bit shorter and a tad bit cooler, my mind goes straight to spice. Spice cake to be exact. My grandmother could bake a spice cake like no one else. Full of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and allspice, this gluten-free and dairy-free spice cake is a nod to all things autumn and my Grandma Anderson.


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A light golden brown gluten-free spice cake covered in cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It is topped with golden snickerdoodle cookies and frosting swirls between each cookie. There is a large slice taken out of the cake allowing you to see the three golden brown cake layers inside.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Spice Cake

Tender moist layers of warm spice cake stacked high upon a blanket of delicious whipped cinnamon cream cheese buttercream frosting. The subtle and delectable tang contrasts gorgeously with the warm autumn spices found in each fluffy cake layer. Topped with fun snickerdoodle cookies and generous swirls of that delectable cream cheese frosting, this gluten-free spice cake is pure cozy fall comfort in every single bite.

What Makes Up A Spice Cake

With a warm comforting spice combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and allspice this spice cake is made up of 2 different components:

  • Spice Cake Layers – super soft and moist oil-based spice cake layers made with all those cozy autumn spices.
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting – tangy, fluffy, and so darn yummy. Whipped cinnamon cream cheese frosting is a crowd-pleaser and pairs beautifully with the spices.

A light golden brown gluten-free spice cake covered in cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It is topped with golden snickerdoodle cookies and frosting swirls between each cookie.

Spice Cake Ingredients & Substitutions

As always this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. That said, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it.

Here are a few key ingredients for this cake but make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom recipe card for the complete ingredient list.

  • Gluten-Free Flour: Check to see if your blend contains xanthan gum. This can also be swapped for regular cake flour if you are not gluten-free. Note that gluten-free flour blends can vary in weight so I recommend measuring by the cup. I made this cake with XO Baking Co. all-purpose baking mix. If you are not gluten-free, swap the flour with regular cake flour and omit the xanthan gum.
  • Dairy-Free ButterI enjoy baking with Becel plant-based bricks but any dairy-free butter substitute will work. You can also use regular butter if you are not dairy-free.
  • Dairy-Free Milk: I love to bake with unsweetened almond milk but this recipe will work with any type of dairy-free or dairy milk.
  • Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil for best results.
  • Spices: Fresh is best, that’s at least my motto when it comes to spices. Make sure to swap out your spices every 2 years. While they may not go rancid, they certainly will lose their potency over time. I prefer a spicey spice cake. If you enjoy a more subtle spice, I suggest halving each spice measurement.
  • Vanilla Extract: I will always encourage pure vanilla extract. It’s truly the best but with that said, artificial extract works as well in a pinch or on a budget.
  • Dairy-Free Cream Cheese: I use either President’s Choice plant-based cream cheese or Violife Foods vegan cream cheese. Both have the most similar taste and texture to real dairy cream cheese and add that tasty tang to the frosting. Use regular full-fat cream cheese bricks if you are not dairy-free.
  • Golden/Light Brown Sugar: I used golden sugar (you might refer to it as light brown sugar) in this recipe simply because that’s what I had in my pantry. Dark brown sugar would work equally as well.

A slice of golden brown spice cake sitting on a white plate. It has three cake layers with cinnamon cream cheese frosting between each layer.

The Easiest Oil-Based Spice Cake layers

These oil-based spice cake layers are as easy as they come. One bowl and a whisk are all you need to mix this batter up. And thanks to it being oil-based, they bake up so incredibly moist and flavorful.

Get started by mixing up the flour, baking powder, spices, xanthan gum and salt in a bowl to combine and set aside. Next up, combine the oil, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add in the dry ingredient mixture and combine. Don’t be alarmed when the batter is quite liquid, it’s supposed to be. Divide the batter evenly into three prepared 8-inch round cake pans and bake away.

Perfectly moist and perfectly delicious oil-based spice cake layers!

How To Make Dairy-Free Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting, while so darn tasty, is notorious for being quite soft. It’s a fine balance between making a tangy cream cheese frosting that has pipeable/stackable consistency but isn’t too sweet. Dairy-free cream cheese alternatives are even softer in nature. Here are a few tricks to ensure dairy-free cinnamon cream cheese frosting success:

  • Make sure the cream cheese and butter are cold – not room temperature.
  • Don’t add any additional liquid – that means we aren’t even adding vanilla extract.
  • Refrigerate before using – pop the whipped frosting into the fridge after you make it and let it chill until you are ready to use it. Give it a quick whip in the mixer and start to work.

These tips will help you create not just a delicious dairy-free cinnamon cream cheese frosting, but one that will stack and pipe gorgeously.

A light golden brown gluten-free spice cake covered in cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It is topped with golden snickerdoodle cookies and frosting swirls between each cookie. There are three slices cut into it and the middle slice is sitting on a white plate.

Spice Cake: Step By Step Instructions

Step 1: Mix the flour, spices, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum (if using) together and set aside.

Step 2: Mix together the oil, sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla until fully combined and smooth.

Step 3: Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Step 4: Divide the cake batter into three 8-inch cake pans that have been prepared with baking spray and parchment paper and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool cakes on a cooling rack.

Step 5: Cream the butter and cream cheese in a mixer on high speed for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, cinnamon, and salt and mix until combined.

Cake Assembly Tips

Stacking a cake with a soft cream cheese frosting like this spice cake can feel daunting. But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s set you up for cake success with a few tips and tricks.

Here are a few assembly tips:

  • Fully Cooled Cake Layers: even if a tiny bit warm, layers will slip when warm. Ensure that each cake layer is fully cooled if not even a bit chilled. I will even work with semi-frozen cake layers if I had to bake them a few days before stacking.
  • Leveled Cake Layers: flat and level cake layers will sit far easier than crooked ones. I use this super easy cake tool to ensure each cake layer is perfectly level.
  • Chilled Frosting: Cream cheese frosting is notoriously soft. I keep mine in the fridge until I’m ready to use it. Give it a quick beat in the stand mixer and use it while cold. If it starts to feel soft at any point, stop what you are doing and place the frosting and cake into the fridge to chill.
  • Keep the Cake Chilled: if at any point you begin to feel the cake slip or the frosting is too soft to work with, pop the cake and the frosting back into the fridge to chill. Remember, don’t rush it. Take your time.

How To Decorate A Spice Cake

“As you desire” is often how I refer to cake decoration. It’s not that I don’t want you to make the exact same cake as I did, it’s simply that I don’t want you to feel like you *have* to make the exact same cake. We all have an inner cake artist and I always want to encourage you to let it shine. That said, I break down this gluten-free and dairy-free spice cake decor for you real quick.

Step 1: Crumb coat the cake and allow it to chill for 20 minutes. See the above section for stacking tips and tricks.

Step 2: Put a final “beauty” coat of frosting on the cake and smooth the sides and top edge with a cake smoother.

Step 3: Place gluten-free snickerdoodle or gingersnap cookies around the top border approximately 1 inch apart from each other. Pipe a Wilton 1M swirl between each cookie. Place a few cookie crumbs around the inside edge of the cookies and frosting swirls.

Step 4: Chill the cake until ready to serve.

A slice of golden brown spice cake sitting on a white plate. It has three cake layers with cinnamon cream cheese frosting between each layer. There is a large bite taken out of the cake slice.

Storing and Freezing Instructions

This cake can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If you want to bake these layers a few days in advance, you most certainly can. I recommend allowing the cake layers to cool, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze until you a ready to stack and decorate the cake. Simply remove the layers from the freezer approximately 1 hour before to thaw slightly.

The Yummiest Gluten-Free Spice Cake

A piece of fall delciousness, this fantastic gluten-free and dairy-free spice cake is a delicious combo of spicy, tangy, and sweet in every single bite. Fluffy moist spice cake layers with smooth whipped cinnamon cream cheese frosting. This autumn spice cake is pure warm and cozy comfort in every scrumptious bite.

Make sure you tag me on social media @cakedbykatie and leave me a rating and review below if you make it. Can’t wait to see it!

A light golden brown gluten-free spice cake covered in cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It is topped with golden snickerdoodle cookies and frosting swirls between each cookie. The cake has several slices taken out and you can see three cake layers peeking out from inside.

Autumn Baking Ideas

Here are a few other warm and cozy fall recipes that I think you’ll love:

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A light golden brown gluten-free spice cake covered in cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It is topped with golden snickerdoodle cookies and frosting swirls between each cookie. There is a large slice taken out of the cake allowing you to see the three golden brown cake layers inside.

Gluten-Free Spice Cake (Dairy-Free)


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 25 Minutes
  • Yield: 14 Slices 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

An easy homemade spice cake made up of incredibly easy and moist gluten-free and dairy-free cake layers. Covered in whipped cinnamon cream cheese frosting, this classic spice cake is warm, cozy, and a total crowd-pleaser.


Ingredients

Scale

Spice Cake

  • 2 ½ cups (300g) gluten-free flour blend *
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum **
  • 1 ½ cups (288 g) golden/light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 ¼ cup (300ml) dairy-free milk, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 1 cup (227g) dairy-free salted butter, cold
  • 1 cup (227g) dairy-free cream cheese, cold
  • 7 cups (840g) icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • optional: snickerdoodle or gingersnap cookies for decor

Instructions

Spice Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 8-inch round baking pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, all the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, & allspice), salt, and xanthan gum (if using) and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, combine the golden/light brown sugar, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk together until smooth.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients from step 2 and whisk together until fully incorporated. Note that the spice cake batter will be runny.
  5. Divide the cake batter evenly into the three prepared 8-inch round baking pans and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake layers on the cooling rack and allow them to fully cool. If freezing the cake layers for a later time, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and cream cheese together on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  2. Add in the icing sugar, cinnamon, and salt and mix on low until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer to high and allow to beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Place in the fridge to chill until ready to use.

Cake Assembly

  1. Level each fully cooled spice cake layer with a cake leveler or knife if needed.

  2. Place one layer of cake on a cake board, plate, and/or cake turntable and top with approximately 1 ½ cups of cinnamon cream cheese buttercream.

  3. Repeat with the remaining layer and apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remember that if at any time the cake or frosting feels soft or unstable, stop what you are doing and place both in the fridge to chill.

  4. Cover the cake with a final layer of buttercream and smooth the side and top with a cake smoother.
  5. Decorate as you please. I placed snickerdoodle cookies along the top edge approximately 1 inch apart from each other. Using a Wilton 1M piping tip I piped small swirls between each cookie. Sprinkle a few cookie crumbs along the inside edge of the buttercream swirls and cookies. Enjoy!
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Notes

* Check to see if the gluten-free flour blend contains xanthan gum. 

** Omit xanthan gum if the gluten-free flour blend already contains it. Omit entirely if using regular flour.

  • Prep Time: 60 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 699 Calories
  • Sugar: 96 Grams
  • Sodium: 333 Miligrams
  • Fat: 21 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 114 Grams
  • Fiber: 3 Grams
  • Protein: 9 Grams
  • Cholesterol: 45 Miligrams

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32 Comments

  1. I love reading your new blog posts and seeing your beautiful photography for new recipes. Your methods are super simple, easy to follow and it’s clear with how good everything turns out, that a lot of heart and soul have been put into each of these. Thanks for also including metric amounts in brackets, really shows you’re attentive to all audiences worldwide.

    x

  2. Just made this recipe (but in cupcake format) for my sister’s Birthday, and they were a hit with everyone! Another delicious recipe by you ☺️






    1. That’s what I love most about spice cake too. The way it makes your kitchen smell. Thanks for sharing Frances.

  3. Beautiful cake! Quick and easy to make, lovely texture, and just the right amount of spice. I used regular cows milk as I didn’t need it to be dairy free. Thanks for the delicious recipe! 🙂






      1. I am making this cake in a gew days but am unable to use eggs. Do you have a recommendation that I can use to substitute for the eggs in this recipe?

        1. You could use vegan yogurt or sour cream instead. That said, I have not tested it so I cannot guarantee results.

  4. I see that the recipe says to substitute regular cake flour for gf flour, should we be using gluten free cake flour for this recipe?

    cant wait to make it x

    1. You can make it either way. Do you want/need it to be gluten-free? If not, simply use regular cake flour.

  5. Katie – your spice cake was delish! I made it as a bundt cake with a maple coffee glaze. I think 50 minutes baking would have been sufficient. Everyone raved! Thanks for all your help last Friday.






  6. Made this Spice cake.. OMG!!! Reminded me of my Nanny’s the spices are warm and intoxicating.. loved it! I did add an apple pie filling to the layers and my husband couldn’t stop eating it. So addictive! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.. it’s a keeper!






  7. Hi Katie,
    I have just discovered you and your delicious looking and sounding cakes… particularly the ones with dietary requirements.
    I am in Australia not sure where you are located, have you released any cookbook?

    1. Hi Helen, so happy to have you here. I, unfortunately, don’t have a cookbook, just this blog with recipes.

  8. I made this cake for a friend of mine and her family that has mostly gluten restrictions. They raved about the cake for days! I even took your advice and added the ginger snaps…. amazing! I will defiantly be making again, thanks for sharing!!






  9. I’d love to make this for mothers day coming up- my mom loves Cinnamon! Is there any way to half the recipe and make a 2 layer cake? Or make as a bundt cake? I have a small family haha

    1. You could totally half it and make a 2 layer cake. Note that the layers will be thinner if you still use an 8-inch pan. I’ve never tested it with a bundt cake so I’m not sure what the results would be.

  10. Hi Katie – This recipe looks delicious! I’m thinking about making cupcakes instead of a cake. Would the baking time change for cupcakes vs a cake?

    1. Cupcakes sound fabulous. Yes, the time will decrease. I would check them probably around the 17-18 minute mark.

  11. Hello!
    This recipe looks amazing! Would it be possible to make this cake vegan, without eggs, using an egg replacer?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Haley, I personally haven’t tested it but I do think a liquid egg replacer or aquafaba would work. Note that the texture will be a bit more dense as that’s the nature of egg-free baking. Let me know if you try it.

  12. Made these for a 2nd time today. First time I made it in a 9×13 glass dish (I can’t remember cooking time) and it was a hit. Today I made them in cupcake form, which got me 24, plus 3 more with left over batter. Cooked for 18 mins at 350 degrees to begin. They weren’t done, so added 5 mins and that did the trick. They are delicious! I used olive oil both times instead of veg. or canola. Cannot taste it at all. Didn’t make the icing, as they are the perfect sweetness for me.

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