Molasses Spice Cake is an absolute Thanksgiving dream! Especially when layered with thick smears of apple butter, then smothered with brown sugar cinnamon buttercream on top, it’s absolutely not to be missed!
I first made this cake allllll the way back in 2016! I remember because I had this flavor idea I wanted to test out, so I made it for a Super Bowl party and people went crazy for it. It was fabulous then and it’s fabulous now, so I literally don’t know why I haven’t made it again over the last THREE years, but that is about to change from here on out as this baby becomes a staple in my winter entertaining menu.
Let me tell you a little bit about what we’ve got going on here- this Molasses Spice Cake is made incredibly moist by an entire cup of apple sauce in the batter (replacing half of the fat a traditional recipe would call for) and by the molasses that adds moisture AND a brown sugar flavor to the layers that I’m absolutely obsessed with. I’ve also recently started using olive oil in baked goods (like in my other seasonal favorite, Salted Caramel Apple Poke Cake) which not only reduces the saturated fat and adds a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants, but it also adds an amazing depth of fruity-flavor, that truly compliments the apple butter in between the layers.
The surprise crunch of walnuts mixed in with the soft apple butter layers, also adds a nice little touch to the Molasses Spice Cake. And lest we forget, that fluffy brown sugar cinnamon buttercream is something you’re gonna want to layer on THICK. When I don’t beat the brown sugar enough and it stays a little gritty, I honestly enjoy the slight crispness to the frosting, so don’t get too worried about that if you’re impatient like me 😉 Last, don’t skimp on the amaretto or cinnamon, because that’s what makes this flavor unlike anything else you’ve ever made before!
I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do- it’s perfect for the fall and winter season!
- Yield: 8
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
Molasses Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream
Molasses Spice Cake is an absolute Thanksgiving dream! Especially when layered with thick smears of apple butter, then smothered with brown sugar cinnamon buttercream on top, it's absolutely not to be missed!
- For the cake:
- 1 1/4 cup unsweeted non-dairy milk mixed with 1T + 1 tsp vinegar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1T baking soda
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1T pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts - chopped small
- 12 ounces of Apple Butter* - I use Muirhead brand
- For the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream:
- 2T amaretto liquer
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk - room temp or slightly warmer, but NOT HOT
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt - to taste
- 1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening or butter** - room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- additional walnuts for garnish - if desired
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3-8inch baking pans with non stick spray, set aside.
- Combine the milk and 1T + 1 tsp vinegar and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour, baking soda, spices and sugar until evenly mixed. Add the apple sauce, olive oil, molasses, and vanilla- mixing until evenly combined. Pour in the milk and additional vinegar, stir just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the walnut pieces.
- Evenly distribute batter amongst 3 pans, then gently "drop" each pan on the counter to take any air bubbles out of the cake. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack 5-10 minutes before removing cakes from the pan. Allow to cool completely before assembly.
For the buttercream:
- Be sure shortening or butter is at room temperature.
- In a small dish, whisk together the amaretto, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt. Allow to sit, stirring more as needed, to dissolve the cinnamon and salt as much as possible in the liquid.
- In an electric mixer, beat together the shortening/butter and brown sugar on high until fluffy- 3-6 minutes. (You want to beat it on high to help dissolve the brown sugar a bit too). Add the liquid mixture, and beat on medium-low for another minute or so until combined.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, beating until everything is smooth, fluffy, and as much of the sugar "grit" is worked out to your taste liking.
- Place one layer of a cake on the plate or dish you plan to serve on. Spread 6 ounces of apple butter on top. Place the second cake layer, then add the remaining apple butter on top of that. Place third cake layer on top of the second apple butter layer. Spread the brown sugar cinnamon buttercream on top and all along the sides of the cake. Garnish with additional walnuts, if desired. Slice with a very sharp knife to best results! Can store at room temperature for a day or so, but afterwards, I recommend storing in the refrigerator, but serving at room temperature.
*Feel free to use any brand or a homemade version, but I love the Muirhead Cinnamon Apple Butter from Williams Sonoma! It is only 3 ingredients, and naturally vegan. It is a little more expensive than other brands, but I think the flavor is worth it. Plus, with the amount of time you'd spend running your oven to make apple butter from scratch, it's probably cheaper to just spring for the already made stuff 😉
**You can use butter instead of shortening if you don't care about keeping the recipe entirely vegan!