Apple Butter Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Old-fashioned Apple Butter Cake recipe made with buttermilk and topped with cream cheese frosting. A delicious and simple fall cake that’s great with coffee, cider, or tea. Recipe makes one 9 inch square or round cake, or a 9 x 5 loaf cake.
Apple Butter Snack Cake will be your go-to easy dessert this fall. Use homemade apple butter or a store bought version for a classic, no frills (but amazing!) cake.
This is one our favorite recipes with apple butter because it’s warmly spiced, has a great texture, and pairs with everything from morning coffee to late night ice cream. Oh, and it’s topped with cream cheese icing. Yum!
All Purpose flour
Spice mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If your apple butter is extra spiced, you may want to adjust the spice level in the cake batter to taste.
Granulated sugar and brown sugar – you’ll need 1 cup sugar total. We like a blend of 50/50 but any sugar will work.
Vegetable shortening – shortening is the best option for baking cakes with higher moisture content since it helps keep the texture light. It also has a neutral flavor.
Large eggs – you’ll need 2. I don’t recommend replacing the eggs since this is a moist cake and they act as a binder.
Buttermilk – gives a nice tang and adds tenderness
Baking Soda – the best leavening agent with acidic buttermilk
Apple Butter – adds flavor and moisture. You’ll need 1 cup of apple butter for this cake.
(Optional) Frosting – a simple cream cheese frosting pairs well with the sweet and spiced cake. You could also serve with just powdered sugar, a glaze icing, or fresh berries.
Steps for this recipe:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spray or line a 9 inch cake pan (round or square).
Combine flour with spices in a bowl and set aside.
Beat sugars and shortening together until creamy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Stir in half of the flour mixture.
Stir together the baking soda and buttermilk until the mixture bubbles, then add it in to the batter.
Combining the baking soda with the acidic buttermilk will help with leavening and give the cake a tender crumb.
It’s important to do this just before adding to the batter, though, so the cake will rise properly.
Stir in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
Fold in the apple butter. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon helps keep from overworking the batter.
Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes (for a 9 inch pan).
Top should spring back when touched and a toothpick should come out clean. Cake will be browned around the edges.
Let cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then place on a cooling rack and let cool before frosting.
Substitutions and Tips:
Can I bake this as a loaf cake instead?
Yes! Bake in a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan for 60 to 70 minutes.
What can I use instead of buttermilk?
The best buttermilk substitute for cake is a mixture of full fat sour cream and milk (whole or 1%, preferably). Use a ratio of 2 to 1 sour cream to milk and stir together until combined.
For this cake, use 1/2 cup sour cream + 1/4 cup milk in place of the 3/4 cup buttermilk.
Sour cream helps keep the fat content, tang and acidity needed for cake batters and the milk thins it out to buttermilk texture.
Can I use applesauce instead of apple butter?
Yes. Baking is one of the best uses for apple butter because it adds moisture and lots of flavor to cakes, but if you’re out, applesauce will work the same way.
Use a 1 to 1 ratio of applesauce for apple butter. You’ll want to up the spices in the recipe to get a similar flavor result (I recommend increasing each spice by half).
How should I store apple butter cake?
Since it’s frosted with cream cheese, store in the fridge, up to 4 days.
If you do not frost the cake, it can be kept on the counter, covered, for 4 days.
Apple Butter Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 or 9 inch square or round pan OR a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan
For the apple butter cake:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves optional
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup buttermilk see substitute below
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup apple butter
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 4 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons milk or cream as needed to thin
Make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease or spray cake pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) on medium-low speed, cream together the sugars with the shortening until combined.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
- On low speed, stir in half of the flour mixture just until combined.
- In a separate cup, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk until foamy. Pour all of the buttermilk into the batter and mix on low until incorporated.
- Stir in remaining flour mixture (just until no flour is visible).
- Use a rubber spatula to fold in the apple butter until blended.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top springs back or a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes for a 9 inch square cake.
- Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan about 15 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting (about 1 hour total cooling time).
Make the cream cheese frosting:
- In a large bowl, add all frosting ingredients and stir until combined. Add a little milk or cream to thin, if needed.
- Use a spatula or spoon to spread frosting on the cake.
- If cake is frosted, store in the fridge, covered, up to 4 days.
- If cake is unfrosted, it can be kept at room temperature.
- To freeze: tightly wrap unfrosted cake and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature overnight then frost, if desired.
- 1/2 cup full fat sour cream + 1/4 cup milk stirred together. Baking soda can be added to the flour mixture if subbing the buttermilk.