Fall Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting

This moist and delicious cake is full of Autumn flavor. The brown sugar frosting flows perfectly over the layer cake…it’s impressive to look at and tasty to eat!

Serves: 12Prep: 1 hour 20 minutesCook: 40 minutesTotal: 2 hoursDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 12


  • 2 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon plus ⅛ tsp. salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 1⁄2 cups packed light brown sugar, divided
  • 3⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1⁄2 cup Half & Half
  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 2 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9” round baking pans with nonstick cooking spray, then lightly dust with flour and shake out the excess.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1¾ cup brown sugar, vegetable oil and applesauce with an electric hand mixer. Scrape down the sides, then add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides in between mixing. Add in 3 teaspoons vanilla.
  • Add in half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Blend in the buttermilk, then add in the remaining flour mixture. Divide mixture evenly among the two prepared baking pans.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool, then transfer cakes out on to a wire rack. Level cakes as needed.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine ¾ cup brown sugar, half and half, butter and ⅛ teaspoon salt over medium heat. Stir occasionally for 6 minutes, until mixture comes to a boil. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla, then beat until smooth and no chunks remain.
  • Spread frosting over the top of one cake round, then place the other cake on top. Spread remaining frosting over the cake.