Gorgeous pumpkin cake, with a crunchy pecan topping and cheese swirl! Sweet, moist, easy to make, and with that unmistakable spicy pumpkin flavor we all love. It keeps well refrigerated for a few days and can be frozen.
It's about time I introduced you to this amazing pumpkin pecan sheet cake.
Where are you when it comes to fall flavors? Apples and cinnamon or pumpkin and spices? I have to confess that pumpkin trumps all others, including carrot. I never thought I'd say that.
Every year I make this cake and I declare it my favorite fall one. Together with the fantastic apple pumpkin crumb cake, of course. Just don't make me choose.
I vary between pumpkin and butternut squash, pecans and walnuts, sour cream and cream cheese for the topping. It turns out they're all good. So you get that bonus, of using whatever pumpkin, cheese or nut you have that day.
They are pretty straight-forward (image below).
- Pumpkin: use canned or homemade, both work fine. And butternut squash is fantastic also.
- Spices: you can play with the spice mix. I'm a big fan of making our own mixes, and that is especially true when it comes to pumpkin spice. I had huge disappointments with commercial ones, so I stay out of that path.
- Sour cream: full fat is the best choice, and you can also use cream cheese.
- Sugar: I like to use both white and brown, but you can use only one.
Homemade pumpkin puree
I make my own pumpkin puree (or butternut squash depending on the season because it's easily found year-round). Also, I have a hard time finding the canned stuff sometimes.
So, I made a whole post about How to Make Pumpkin Puree, with instructions and a small video tutorial. It's super easy and natural.
Sour cream topping
It's just a drizzle of sugared cheese but it works as a soft pillow for the pecans. Baking is all about the little details that make or break a great recipe.
If you feel the urge to marble it, do so lightly. My experience is that too much marbling adds too much moisture and it doesn't bake so cakey. We don't want that. I just drizzle it and don't touch it. Then I sprinkle the pecans and into the oven, it goes.
Some of the sour cream topping will seep into the batter and the pumpkin sheet cake will be both moist and cakey. A win-win situation in my opinion.
Though I bake a lot of loaf and bundt cakes, I'm starting to love sheet cakes - this Lemon Coconut Cake being my latest obsession.
They have a great ratio of cake and topping and feed a lot of people. Very important when you take your baked goodies to the office. There's enough for everyone.
This pumpkin sheet cake has seen many birthdays and gatherings. It's always a hit, even among those skeptical about eating vegetables in their cakes. They devour it.
It comes out perfectly crunchy and tender and so delicious.
- Pumpkin: as I mentioned above, I use homemade butternut squash puree (mostly, sometimes pumpkin) but use the unsweetened canned variety. I would but I can't find it here. Otherwise, I would because it's so much easier!
- Spice mix: I make my own pumpkin spice mix but you can use one you like already. If you have never used them before together, take this recipe as a guide and then adjust individual spices to your liking.
- Nuts: pecans are the traditional pair with pumpkin, but walnuts work very well too. Use hazelnuts if you want to innovate. No nuts is an option too.
- Cheese: cream cheese makes for a thicker swirl, but sour cream can also be used if that's all you have.
- Storing: this cake keeps at room temperature for a couple of days. You can freeze it for a few weeks, well wrapped. Defrost at room temperature.
Related recipes you might like:
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.
You might also consider subscribing to our FREE email series to Boost your Home Baking Skills! And our regular newsletter.
And let's connect via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin or butternut squash puree, at room temperature
- 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup sour cream or cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup white or light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon heavy or double cream
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment or aluminum paper (bottom and two sides only, it will be easier to unmold), and spray or butter the unlined sides.
- In a large bowl beat butter adding sugar gradually until very creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add vanilla and mix well.
- In two parts, add sifted flour with baking powder, spices and salt (I sift it directly over the butter). Mix only until starting to blend.
- Add pumpkin or butternut squash puree and mix well.
- Pour into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
- In a small bowl mix sour cream (or cream cheese) with sugar and cream.
- Drizzle on top of the pumpkin batter.
- Sprinkle chopped nuts on top and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
- Let cool on wire rack. Unmold carefully. Serve at room tº.
- It keeps buat room tº for 2 days and a week in the fridge wrapped in film.
Pumpkin: as I mentioned above, I use homemade butternut squash puree (mostly, sometimes pumpkin) but use the unsweetened canned variety. I would but I can't find it here. Otherwise, I would because it's so much easier!
Spice mix: I make my own pumpkin spice mix but you can use one you like already. If you have never used them before together, take this recipe as a guide and then adjust individual spices to your liking.
Nuts: pecans are the traditional pair with pumpkin, but walnuts work very well too. Use hazelnuts if you want to innovate. No nuts is an option too.
Cheese: cream cheese makes for a thicker swirl, but sour cream can be used too if that's all you have.
Keeping: this cake keeps at room t° for a couple of days. You can freeze it for a few weeks, well wrapped. Defrost at room t°.
For making homemade pumpkin or squash puree see detailed instructions in post.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 12
- Calories: 429
- Sugar: 30.4 g
- Sodium: 158.8 mg
- Fat: 24.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 50.1 g
- Protein: 5.3 g
- Cholesterol: 78.5 mg
Keywords: pumpkin cake, pumpkin sheet cake