This delicious spice cake with melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese frosting is a perfect crowd pleaser for Labor Day Weekend! Celebrate, enjoy and stay safe!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 35 minutes
Making & Frosting Cake: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 12 to 15

Ingredients for the Cake:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar (slightly packed)
3/4 cup safflower or sunflower oil (other vegetable oil can be used as well)
3/4 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup whole or low-fat milk

Preparing & Baking the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or oil a 13 X 9-inch rectangular cake pan; lightly dust cake pan with flour. Shake off excess flour and set prepared cake pan aside.

2. In a 1-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and spices and set aside.

3. In a 3-quart mixing bowl (using a hand mixer) or in a stand mixer bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla and walnuts (walnuts are optional).

4. Mix these ingredients on high speed until they are combined and uniform.

5. Gradually (a little at a time) add about 1/2 cup dry ingredients at a time, mixing until batter is uniform.

6. Add 1/3 cup of milk and mix until batter is uniform.

7. Repeat the gradual addition of dry and wet ingredients until finished and batter is smooth.

8. Pour batter into prepared cake pan; set cake pan on a rack positioned in center of oven.

9. Bake the cake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

10. After 25 to 30 minutes, insert a pointed knife into center of cake. If the knife comes out clean, the cake is done. If there is batter around knife, bake the cake for an additional 5 minutes.

11. After 5 minutes, insert knife again. If needed, bake cake for another 5 minutes. If cake is done, it to a counter. Set cake in pan aside to cool (do not remove hot cake from pan). Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon whole or low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
*This frosting can be used on a 13 X 9-inch rectangular cake or on two 8 or 9-inch cake rounds.

Directions for the Frosting:
1. In a 2-quart bowl and using a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla on high speed.

2. Gradually add (a little at a time) 1 cup powdered sugar at a time on low speed until you have used 3-1/2 cups.

3. Mix until frosting is smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too runny or thin, add the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

Frosting the Cake:
1. When cake is completely cool, loosen sides with a knife. Gently invert cake onto a serving platter.

2. To keep platter “clean” when frosting cake, gently insert 3-inch strips of aluminum foil between cake bottom and platter.

3. Mound all the frosting on top center of cake.

4. Using a frosting knife, gently spread frosting on cake beginning in center top and then to the cake sides.

5. When finished frosting cake, gently remove aluminum foil strips and discard them.

6. Garnish cake with ground cinnamon over its top and chopped or whole cinnamon sticks around platter.

7. When ready to serve, cut the cake in 4-inch square pieces and set each piece on individual plates.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real