There was a debate as to how to title this post to make sure it was all included: the moist cake with those amazing fall spices, the soft and unctuous cream cheese topping and the overall sweet pumpkin flavor that you get with every bite of this pumpkin sheet cake, maybe pumpkin bars or pumpkin squares. Whatever you call it, it's fantastic and easy to make!
For most of you it's that time of year, fall season, when it's all about pumpkin desserts and the search for yet another best pumpkin cake recipe. I don't know how you feel about the latter, but I'm crazy about them. I strongly believe they trump any other flavor, including carrot cake. I know, the nerve.
About this pumpkin spice cake
- Easy to make: there's little prep work and the cake batter comes together quickly.
- Great flavor: it has that unmistakable spiced pumpkin flavor that we love, and together with the cream cheese frosting it's magic, the perfect pair. A fantastic homemade pumpkin cake everyone will love.
- Freezes well: always well wrapped, it keeps in the freezer for a month. You can check my Freezer Baking guide for further details on how to freeze baked goods.
- Different pans: you can make a sheet cake like I did today, or layers, a loaf cake, or even cupcakes.
- Pumpkin puree: I always use my homemade pumpkin puree, but canned works just as well. Don't use pumpkin pie filling which is a very different product.
- Sugar: we use both white granulated and brown sugar (light or dark, they both work fine) for this recipe.
- Oil: a neutral vegetable oil, such as sunflower, is the best option.
- Eggs: fresh, large
- Flour: all purpose flour is the easiest choice, but I use cake flour sometimes (when that's all I have) and the results are just as good.
- Salt: kosher salt is my choice for baking.
- Baking powder and baking soda: together they help the cake rise in the oven. They last from 6 months to a year, somewhere along those lines; after that they lose strength.
- Spices: you can use purchased or homemade pumpkin pie spice mix, or the ones listed below and in the recipe - cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice. Most pumpkin recipes also call for cloves, but I don't usually add it. But add anywhere from a pinch to ¼ teaspoon if it's a flavor you like.
- Vanilla: I love a little pure vanilla extract or paste to round out the rest of the flavors.
How to make the cake
It's very easy, like most recipes in this blog.
- Beating wet ingredients: first the eggs, oil and sugar are beaten together in a large bowl until frothy and thick. This takes a minute or two. You don't have to reach ribbon stage or anything like that. Then we add the pumpkin puree, spices and vanilla. Images 1 and 2
- Dry ingredients: they include the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda (sometimes called the flour mixture) which should be sifted before adding. I have them measured and then sift them directly on top of the pumpkin mixture. But you can also sift them in another bowl or piece of parchment paper first. Image 3
- Mixing the final batter: this is the part where you should not beat much. When we incorporate flour in a cake, we don't want to develop the gluten which happens when we beat it or work it. So mix just until it's all well incorporated. I like to end with a spatula to make sure all the flour is mixed but not risk over beating it. Image 4
- Baking: the final pumpkin cake batter is spread on the prepared pan and bake until golden but being careful not to over bake it as it will drier than it should. I like to use a piece of parchment paper and line the pan with it, covering the bottom and two long sides. This will make it easier to remove the cake as you simply have to lift the paper and the whole cake will come out. Images 5 and 6
Cream cheese frosting
I use a simple cream cheese frosting because together with pumpkin it makes the best cake possible. It's easy to make (simply mix powdered sugar with butter and cream cheese), keeps well in the refrigerator for several weeks, and there's usually some leftovers which can be used to fill and frost other cakes like the Red Velvet Bundt Cake, the wonderful Hummingbird Layer Cake, or our decadent Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.
How much frosting? That's up to you! I find that a thick layer is always a good idea. So let your sweet tooth decide.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Serving: this is a pumpkin cake recipe to eat at room temperature. Maybe barely cold, but not straight from the refrigerator as the pumpkin flavor will not be as good, in my opinion.
- Pans: there are several pan sizes you can bake this cake on besides the sheet cake pan we used for this post. Two 8-inch round cake pans, about 18 pumpkin cupcakes, an 11x5 inches loaf pan can be used depending on the type of cake you're in the mood for.
- Spices: I love the mix of warm fall spices detailed in the ingredients, which include cinnamon as the main flavor. But you can use a purchased pumpkin pie mix, make your own, add cloves or change the ratio of the spices. Always adjust flavors to your and your family's palate.
Can you freeze pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting?
This cake freezes really well, ideally without the frosting. I like to wrap it first in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. It lasts for at least a month.
If you want to freeze leftovers, frosting and all, you certainly can, just know that the frosting will not be as fluffy as before. But the flavor will still be that of a very delicious pumpkin cake.
Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe and loved it, and if you had issues, so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here, it's much appreciated.
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For the pumpkin cake:
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour (pastry flour also works)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (sunflower, canola)
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar (light or dark, both work)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons milk or cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Butter or use baking spray on a rectangular 8x11 inch pan. Line with a piece of paper that's almost as long as the width of the pan. It will cover bottom the two long sides.
For the pumpkin cake:
- Beat the oil, eggs and both sugars for 2 minutes, until thick and light colored.
- Add the pumpkin puree, spices and vanilla. Mix well.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda) and mix until well incorporated, but don't over beat. This is the time to mix at the lowest speed of the beater or use a spatula. You can sift the dry ingredients separately first and then add them to the pumpkin batter, or have them measured and sift them directly over the cake batter (like I do).
- Spread the pumpkin cake batter in the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a tester or toothpick comes out clean. Don't over bake it so the cake is moist and tender.
- Let cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Make sure there is no cake stuck to the sides of the pan where there's no parchment paper. If there is, run a smooth bladed knife to loosen them.
- Remove the cake by lifting the paper on both sides and transferring it to the cooling rack. Carefully remove the paper and let cool completely.
- Frost with the cream cheese frosting below using an offset spatula and cut into squares to eat.
- Refrigerate leftovers, well covered.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Beat cream cheese in a bowl with the soft butter until very creamy and no lumps remain.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until you have a thick, very creamy consistency, good enough to spread.
- If needed, thin it with a teaspoon or two of milk.
- It keeps well in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Beat again before using to attain a creamy consistency.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Serving: this is a pumpkin cake recipe to eat at room temperature. Maybe barely cold, but not straight from the refrigerator as the pumpkin flavor will not be as good, in my opinion.
Pans: there are several pan sizes you can bake this cake on besides the sheet cake pan we used for this post. Two 8-inch round cake pans, about 18 pumpkin cupcakes, an 11x5 inches loaf pan can be used depending on the type of cake you're in the mood for.
Spices: I love the mix of warm fall spices detailed in the ingredients, which include cinnamon as the main flavor. But you can use a purchased pumpkin pie mix, make your own, add cloves or change the ratio of the spices. Always adjust flavors to your and your family's palate.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cooling time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/12
- Calories: 324
- Sugar: 37.1 g
- Sodium: 141.2 mg
- Fat: 12.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 51.2 g
- Protein: 3.4 g
- Cholesterol: 46 mg
Keywords: pumpkin cake