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Cenital view of frosted pumpkin cake on parchment paper

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooling time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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!


Units Scale

For the pumpkin cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (pastry flour also works)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (sunflower, canola)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, both work)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 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


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
  2. 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:

  1. Beat the oil, eggs and both sugars for 2 minutes, until thick and light colored. 
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, spices and vanilla. Mix well. 
  3. 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). 
  4. Spread the pumpkin cake batter in the prepared pan. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. Frost with the cream cheese frosting below using an offset spatula and cut into squares to eat. 
  9. Refrigerate leftovers, well covered.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese in a bowl with the soft butter until very creamy and no lumps remain. 
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until you have a thick, very creamy consistency, good enough to spread. 
  3. If needed, thin it with a teaspoon or two of milk. 
  4. 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. 


  • 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