Healthy Applesauce Spice Cake Recipe

Now that the weather is cooling down, you may be craving a warmer dessert. In the summer, we tend to opt for sweet treats like ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies, or anything that might cool us down in the hot weather. In the fall and winter months, however, we steer clear of frozen treats and look for something warmer, spicier ... something like a healthy applesauce spice cake!

Recipe developer Hayley MacLean has crafted the perfect fall dessert — something that's not too sweet, has plenty of decadence, and can technically pass as a healthy option! "My favorite thing about this recipe is how decadent it is without being heavy or overly sweet," MacLean shares. "It is a great light dessert that encompasses all the wonderful flavors of fall, and is the perfect note to end a cozy meal." Now that we're officially embracing the cooler weather, it only makes sense that we enjoy some wonderful fall recipes as well, so let's dive into this healthy dessert recipe!

Gather the ingredients to make healthy applesauce spice cake

Like many types of cake, this healthy applesauce spice cake calls for some key baking ingredients. For starters, make sure that you have oat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Additionally, you'll need an egg at room temperature, unsweetened applesauce, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract. As for spices, you'll want some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.

For the icing, you'll need some reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature, vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar. Finally, to add some crunch to the cake, you'll want some chopped pecans — and be sure to set some aside for garnish, too! MacLean notes that there are plenty of opportunities for ingredient swaps, "The pecans can be switched out easily for walnuts or even pistachios would be delicious," she explains. "Cranberries or chocolate chips can also be mixed in to add new textures and flavors." Also, she notes that "a flax egg and plant-based cream cheese can be used as well," to make the cake vegan!

Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately

Now that you have the ingredients sorted, you can begin making this healthy applesauce spice cake. First, preheat your oven to 350 F and line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Set out a large mixing bowl and toss in the applesauce, coconut oil, egg, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Mix the ingredients until they're smooth. Then, grab another mixing bowl and whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. 

Add the pecans, and bake the cake

After you've finished mixing the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, you can finally combine them. To do so, gradually pour the dry mixture into the wet, mixing until just combined. Now, pour in the chopped pecans and give the batter one last stir, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan, then bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. After the cake is done baking, transfer it to a wire rack and allow it to cool down.

Make the frosting as the cake cools

As the cake cools down, you can turn your attention to the frosting. Add the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and salt into a bowl, then beat the ingredients until they're smooth. Now, gradually add the powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency — keep in mind that you might not use all of the powdered sugar! Also, if your frosting is a little too thick, simply add in a bit of water to thin it out. 

Frost the cake, and then serve

After your cake has cooled down, you can go ahead and frost it. To do so, simply slather on a layer of cream cheese frosting right on top — feel free to use as little or as much as you'd like. Then, sprinkle on some extra chopped pecans, and you're ready to enjoy! "I think you could definitely have a slice of this cake occasionally for breakfast," MacLean says, noting that you could enjoy the cake without the frosting and instead add some honey for a "healthier, not-so-sweet option, that fits right in to a well-rounded morning meal." However you enjoy this healthy applesauce spice cake, it's sure to give you that wonderful, warm feeling that only comes from a truly delicious dessert.

Healthy Applesauce Spice Cake Recipe
4.9 from 17 ratings
This healthy applesauce spice cake will satisfy your cravings, and it counts as a serving of fruits! You can even serve it as a sweet breakfast option!
Prep Time
Cook Time
cake topped with pecans
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
Optional Ingredients
  • pecans for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper to facilitate the removal of the cake.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the applesauce, coconut oil, egg, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and brown sugar until smooth.
  4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  6. Fold in the chopped pecans.
  7. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
  8. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  9. Transfer the cooked cake to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely before frosting.
  10. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth.
  11. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and then gradually add the powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. (You might use less than the full amount of sugar. If the frosting gets too thick, a small amount of water can be added to thin it out.)
  12. Frost the cooled cake with the cream cheese frosting and top it with chopped pecans before serving.
Calories per Serving 330
Total Fat 16.0 g
Saturated Fat 8.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 31.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 45.1 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Total Sugars 34.4 g
Sodium 242.0 mg
Protein 3.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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