Moist and velvety, my pumpkin cake is filled with the flavors of warm spices, brown sugar, and vibrant pumpkin. Frosted with a rich and creamy toasted pecan cream cheese frosting and dolloped with a touch of pumpkin butter, this scrumptious cake is the ultimate fall dessert to slice and share!
Pumpkin Cake, a Delectably Moist and Velvety Fall Cake
Being as big of a fan of the flavor and fragrance of spices as I am, I find the fall season, with its abundance of warm, delicious notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and even cardamom, a wonderful time of year to take some pleasure in the joy of baking!
Preparing a festive pumpkin cake with that lovely golden-orange hue and a velvety, tender crumb is a beloved fall activity of mine, especially when that scrumptious cake is spread with a rich and creamy toasted pecan cream cheese frosting.
Because those wonderful colors and flavors of fall serve as such an inspiration when it comes to this pumpkin cake recipe, I made sure to fill it to the brim with those cozy spices, that combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, a hint of fennel, all found in a fresh little jar of pumpkin pie spice—add to that warm brown sugar, rich melted butter, and a hefty scoop of organic pumpkin puree.
This pumpkin cake is definitely fall's answer to a decadent dessert, perfect as a festive centerpiece to slice thickly and share with those you love!
How I Make My Pumpkin Cake
Part of the fun and pleasure of preparing a spiced pumpkin cake from scratch is there's no stand mixer required, only a couple of bowls and a small hand mixer for thorough blending.
It's prepared quite similarly to how one might prepare a carrot cake, only in this case, melted butter is used in place of oil, and good-quality canned, pure pumpkin is used as the main ingredient that provides the moisture.
Here's a peek at my pumpkin cake recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe below...)
- When preparing a cake, be it this pumpkin cake or any other, I like to start by whisking together all of my dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Next, I'll blend together my wet ingredients—the sugars, eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and melted butter—in another bowl.
- I combine the two by slowly adding the dry ingredients into the wet, in increments, until well combined yet not overly mixed in order to keep the cake tender and light.
- For this cake, I use a couple of 9” cake tins, and bake the cake until baked through.
- While the cake bakes, I prepare my toasted pecan cream cheese frosting to have on hand to frost my cake once it's completely cooled.
- To assemble, I frost the first layer of my cake, spread on a thin, silky layer of pumpkin butter, then top with the second layer and frost the entire cake.
- I finish with a little dollop of the pumpkin butter in the center of the top of the cake, along with a decorative sprinkle of pecans!
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 16
Nutrition Info: 576 calories (per slice)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 28 minutes
Pumpkin Cake Ingredients:
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 (15oz) can organic, pure pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup melted, unsalted butter
- 9 ounce jar pumpkin butter (I prefer “Dickinson's” brand)
- Whole toasted pecans for garnish (16 pecans)
Toasted Pecan Cream Cheese Ingredients:
- 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 TB vanilla
- ½ cup toasted pecans, finely processed
- Preheat the oven to 350°, and mist two, 9” cake tins with cooking spray, or grease with butter, and line the bottoms with parchment paper (you can also prepare this in a bundt pan, as well, but you'll need to double to baking time.
- Prepare the dry ingredients by whisking together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl; set aside for a moment.
- In another large bowl, add the brown and granulated sugars, the eggs, the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract, and using a hand mixer, mix on medium until all ingredients are smooth and well combined; next, add in the melted butter, and mix that in until that is well incorporated.
- With you mixer on low, slowly add in about ⅓ of the dry ingredients, and once those are incorporated, add in another ⅓ and mix, then the remainder and mix just until smooth and well blended.
- Pour the batter evenly between the two cake tins, and bake the cakes for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes before turning them out to completely cool.
- While the cake bakes, prepare the frosting: to a bowl, add the softened cream cheese and the butter, and with a spatula, smooth and combine the two together just a little bit; then, using a hand mixer, beat the two together just until smooth and fluffy.
- Next, add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat that in until well blended; add in the vanilla, and beat that in just until incorporated.
- Finally, fold the finely processed pecans into the frosting using a spatula, just until well combined; cover, or store in fridge until ready to use.
- Once the cake rounds have cooled, cut any excess “dome” shape off the tops if desired (just enough to help create a flatter surface), and place the first cake layer, with its flat, bottom-side up, in front of you; spread a generous amount of the frosting over that layer, followed by about ½ cup of the pumpkin butter, spread thinly over the frosting.
- Place the next layer of cake over that one, and once again with it's flat, bottom-side up, frost this top layer generously (plus the sides of the cake) with the frosting; next, add the remainder of the pumpkin butter decoratively to the center of the top of the frosted cake and spread, and garnish with pecans to indicate where each slice will be.
Tips & Tidbits for my Pumpkin Cake Recipe:
- Pure, canned pumpkin: When purchasing the pumpkin for this recipe, be sure that you are choosing pure pumpkin, with nothing added (I prefer to use organic). You do not want to use pumpkin pie filling, as this has a totally different texture, and is quite sweet.
- Getting nice and spicy: I love to simply use pumpkin pie spice in this pumpkin cake recipe, because it is the perfect mix of spices found in one trusty jar. Make sure you're using a fresh bottle of spices; and use a nice, generous amount to create that warm, fragrant spicy aroma.
- Prepare your pumpkin cake ahead: To save time, I'll typically bake off my cake a day or even two ahead of time, allow the rounds to cool completely, and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge. When I'm ready to frost and serve, I'll whip up my frosting, allow my cake rounds to come to room temp, then frost and decorate.
- Pumpkin butter for silky texture: To reinforce that pumpkin theme in this cake, I like the addition of a touch of pumpkin butter in between the two layers of the cake, as well a decorative hint on top. Feel free to leave this out if you prefer, if you're not a fan or if you can't find pumpkin butter.
- Pecans for a nutty flair: Toasted pecans are a wonderful flavor partner in this pumpkin cake, but you can substitute toasted walnuts, or even leave the nuts out altogether.
Craving more delicious fall sweet treats? Check out this Apple Cake, these Pumpkin Muffins, these Caramel Apple Pie Bars, or these Pumpkin Pancakes!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!
I cannot find pumpkin butter. Do you have a recipe?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Michelle, typically they carry pumpkin butter in the section of the grocery store where the preserves/jams/jellies are - it's a fruit "spread". Since I purchased mine, I don't have a recipe of my own for it as of this moment, but you can check out this link for a good homemade one: http://goo.gl/180gAM You can also just omit it altogether - it's just a nice little added touch of flavor, but can be optional.
it looks delish!
Oh goodness this looks so heavenly!
I always roast my own pumpkins. It's so worth it. This cake looks worth every moment of preparation and calorie too.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Laura, home-roasted pumpkin certainly has the most intense flavor, doesn't it? Thanks so much for your comments!
You add a 9 ounce jar of pumpkin butter to the cake or frosting, can't tell where to add it or use it.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Doris, it is written in the recipe instructions in the last section where I describe how to frost the cake, just above the frosting ingredients. You add some over top of the frosting on the first layer, and then on the second (and top) layer, you add it only to the center, decoratively, as pictured in the photos. Hope that helps!
Do you think these could be made as cupcakes?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Edie, I don't see why not! Just adjust the baking times to accommodate the smaller cupcakes, and you should be golden.
I made these as cupcakes and adjusted the baking time accordingly. They are absolutely delicious! The pumpkin cake along with your caramel apple pie bars will be on our Thanksgiving menu this year. Thank you for another fabulous recipe.
The Cozy Apron
Edie, can I tell you that you've totally made my Saturday morning?! 🙂 I love it!
So thrilled you came back to report on how things went turning this cake into cupcakes—perfect!
I'm so very honored to know a couple of my desserts will be a part of your special Thanksgiving spread. May you and your loved ones enjoy these, and perhaps you'll even find a few more offerings (we have some yummy savory staples!) on the site to serve as well! 🙂
This cake is delicious with the sweetness and spices perfectly balanced...a perfect autumn cake. I did omit the pumpkin butter. Will definitely make it again.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Katrina, so happy to read you enjoyed the cake! It really is the perfect cake for this time of year, when everything is all about the pumpkins. 😉
Thanks for sharing your experience with me, and happy fall baking to you!