Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

The Best Pumpkin Cake I’ve Ever Had

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Because it truly is the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had.

But before we get there… thank you so much for all the well wishes about our newest addition!! We feel so fortunate and blessed that Noelle is here. Life has never been sweeter. ♥

A lot of the recipe content over the next several weeks was scheduled ahead of time. I’m taking time off from the kitchen so I can savor this transition into motherhood. I love checking in with you on my Facebook group (especially during those nighttime feedings!) so please keep those posts coming!

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This month is all about pumpkin. As it should be!! We’re concentrating on making pumpkin roll for October’s Baking Challenge and I have 2 more new pumpkin recipes coming this month. And have you tried the chewy pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies yet? Because that’s another new pumpkin recipe for Fall 2017!

With all of the pumpkin recipes floating around, there’s one extremely basic pumpkin dessert that I’ve never shared with you before. It’s my favorite pumpkin cake. Simple, straightforward, unadulterated, no strings attached, positively perfect pumpkin cake. It’s for those of us who want pure pumpkin spice flavor with nothing else in the way.

If you truly want to experience fall, forget apple picking, jumping in the leaves, hayrides, Sunday football, flannel shirts, roasting s’mores, and jack o’ lanterns because THIS CAKE IS HOW TO DO IT.

Pumpkin cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pumpkin cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

What makes it the best?!

This pumpkin cake reminds me of super moist spice cake in terms of preparation, ease, taste, and texture. The base of the cake is oil, eggs, and pumpkin, so you’re guaranteed a moist crumb. You’ll use an entire standard can of pumpkin, roughly 2 cups of pumpkin purée total. I love recipes calling for the whole can because nothing goes to waste and you don’t have a random 1/3 cup of leftover pumpkin sitting in the fridge!

Let’s talk flavor. We obviously have all the pumpkin. There’s also comfy cozy spices like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. In my notes you’ll see the actual spices listed out in the pumpkin pie spice like cloves, nutmeg, etc. I sweeten this pumpkin cake with both brown sugar and white granulated sugar, but mostly brown. Because you know that’s where the best flavor lies!

There’s more pumpkin spice flavor packed into 1 single bite than in an entire pumpkin spice latte. And hey, guess what? We’re actually using real pumpkin here. Unlike PSLs. Sorry PSLs.

Cakes with a similar spice flavor and texture profile like hummingbird cake, carrot cake, spice cake, and banana cake all taste best with the holy grail of frosting: cream cheese. So we’ve gotta use smooth ‘n’ silky cream cheese frosting to garnish this perfect pumpkin cake. Want to jazz it up? Who am I kidding, of course you do! Try my brown butter cream cheese frosting or cinnamon cream cheese frosting!

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

And how absurdly cute are the little fondant pumpkins? I didn’t make them myself since that would be the utmost test to my decorating patience– I found them on Amazon. I can’t seem to find the same exact ones again, but you can get similar pumpkin toppers here and here. Or these super adorable pumpkin sprinkles!

So, tell me, is this the best pumpkin cake you’ve ever had?

Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil*
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. I always use this glass pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
  3. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-36 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven and set the entire pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place the cake in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
  6. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cake through step 4. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.

Recipe Notes:

Cupcakes: This batter yields about 24-28 cupcakes. Same oven temperature, fill the cupcake wrappers 2/3 full, and bake 18-21 minutes or until baked through.

2 layer cake: Pour batter evenly into two 9-inch round cake pans. Same oven temperature, bake for 25 minutes or until baked through. This frosting is enough for a 2 layer cake.

*Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger.

*Instead of 1 cup of oil, try 1/2 cup (90g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 (120ml) cup oil. The cake is just as moist.

*I strongly recommend using canned pumpkin puree over homemade in this recipe, though 2 cups of homemade would work just fine. I found the flavor better with canned. I prefer Libby's brand for this cake.

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This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass 9×13 Baking Dish | Icing Spreader | Pumpkin Fondant Toppers | Custom Stamped Fork

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

50 comments

  1. I am so excited for the return of pumpkin flavors! I just started planning my Thanksgiving menu and the Great Pumpkin Pie recipe is obviously on there. I’ll have to test this out in the next few weeks!!

    As a side note, I made you white layer cake that you posted back in January a few birthday celebrations this month and it is absolutely delicious. It’s so fluffy!

    Enjoy the rest of your maternity leave! (Can you call it that if you’re still doing some work??)

    • Thanks Kylie! I definitely call this maternity leave because I’m taking off from the most strenuous part of the job– recipe creation, baking, and photography!! I appreciate the well wishes. And I’m so glad you enjoyed the white layer cake. It’s definitely my favorite cake to make for bdays!

  2. I am sooo ready for all things pumpkin, especially desserts. And those pumpkin fondant toppers are so cute!

  3. Pumpkin cake in my opinion is 1000 times better than pumpkin pie.  I always make some kind of pumpkin cake dessert during the Fall and for Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your time with Noelle!

  4. Hi Sally, Being born on Sep 24 I have to say your baby is the most gorgeous baby. I hope you are resting and enjoying your time as a new mum. Thank you for the best pumpkin cake. It is very similar to my carrot cake recipe so I am interested to try it. In case you want to try another the best pumpkin pie/cake check the link:

  5. I was planning on making a pumpkin cake/cupcakes for Thanksgiving this year, so what perfect timing! Is this recipe much different from your Favorite Pumpkin Cupcakes recipe?

    And I thought I had decided on the cinnamon buttercream but I had forgotten about the brown butter buttercream. Decisions…

  6. Hi Sally!! Congrats on your new bundle of joy!! I miss those days when my little ones were that small, the time goes by so fast! I have a question, do you think this could be made in a jelly roll kind of pan to end up with pumpkin cake bars almost? 

  7. I LOVE pumpkin cake! I used your pumpkin cupcakes as a base recipe to make Halloween (Jack-o-Lantern) cupcakes last October & they turned out amazing. Can’t wait to make Halloween cupcakes again – but maybe I’ll do a sheet cake instead 🙂 Best of wishes to you & your family as you settle into this new life!

  8. I can already tell this is going to be a staple in my fall baking repertoire!

  9. This is similar to my favorite recipe that I have been using for decades that always gets rave reviews, except my recipe uses all brown sugar and I bake it in a jelly roll pan for 25 min. (more pumpkin yumminess to share).

  10. Hi Sally,

    I am hoping you can help. I have been trying to copy the lemon loaf cake from Starbucks. I have the lemon pound cake part done – but I can’t get the icing to be thick like theirs. I am thinking of experimenting with cornstarch, tapioca starch, sweetened condensed milk etc..but I am wondering if you have a recipe for thick white icing. The one on SB lemon loaf is not the runny kind at all. Thanks for any tips…

  11. Congratulations!! Enjoy your “break” and thanks for baking ahead so that we’d still have new recipes to read about 😀

  12. Hi Sally!
    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes! I’ve tried so many and they always come out perfectly. Congrats to you and your husband on your new bundle of joy!

  13. This looks awesome! I think I’ll make this for my birthday cake (Halloween, super spooky). If I want to make this as a layer cake I think I’d prefer a bit of a lighter frosting so it’s not overwhelming in the layers. How would you recommend me altering the recipe so that it’s a bit of an airier, fluffier cream cheese frosting? 

  14. Would it taste okay without the frosting?

  15. I love pumpkin cake and I will try this new recipe this week-end. Thanks for the recipe. Enjoy your wonderful baby.

    (excuse-me, I’m french and I don’t speak very well american)

  16. This looks incredible! Totally making this over the weekend!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  17. HI Sally. First, Congratulations! Children are a true miracle.

    Question for you. I made this cake today and it is delicious. My only concern is that after cooling it really sunk considerably in the pan (9×13). I did test it before I took it out and it was done. Thoughts????

    I was able to cover it with frosting but it was hard to distribute since it all went to the middle.

    • Hey Laura! If the cake sunk, it sounds like the BP and BS were not completely fresh (here’s how to test for freshness) and/or the cake was underbaked. I’m glad you loved its flavor!

      • Thanks so much that you take the time to check comments and reply–Newborn and all!!!!! I tested both BP and BS and they were good. As we got closer to the center of the cake while cutting, I realized the cake was underbaked which baffles me even more because I tested it in two places in the center and the tester came out clean. UGH!!! Any other suggestions as to how to test for doneness?

        Again, the cake is so delicious!!!! At least we have the perimeters to enjoy.

  18. I can’t wait to try this one! I’m all about Pumpkin when it comes to Fall Baking.
    I wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU for using weight measurements in all of your recipes, even in the ones from the very beginning! I always get frustrated when looking for recipes from other blogs because almost ALL of them use *only* cup measurements, which sucks because I have to take the time to convert them to grams. Anyways, thank you, Sally <3 

    • So glad it’s helpful for you! I’m trying to go back to oder posts and add the gram measurements when I re-make that specific recipe. It’s taking me awhile. But hopefully all recipes will have them at some point.

  19. Sally, I hope you enjoy your maternity leave. It must be an amazing feeling for you to spend time with your little sunshine. Wish you all the best! 
    Your pumpkin cake looks amazing, will definitely be the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had!

  20. Could I make jumbo cupcakes with this? How would the baking time need to be adjusted?

  21. This recipe looks amazing! Question though, would you recommend using it to make mini cupcakes? If so, what would you suggest the baking time be? I love everything about fall, especially pumpkin cake! Congratulations on your new sweet baby!

  22. Congratulations, Noelle is beautiful! She picked a good day and month! My baby girl just turned one on Sept. 26, and I was actually due to be born around the 24th, but I was a premie instead 🙂 Anyway, the best pumpkin cake (because it’s probably the only one I’ve had) was Paula Deen’s recipe, which looks very similar to yours. I switched it up and flavored the cream cheese frosting with maple!! Pumpkin and maple go so well together! Speaking of which, I plan on making your pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple icing for breakfast tomorrow 😀 Fall is seriously my FAVORITE time of year. I am practically giddy over it, I love it so much!

    • I MUST try this cake with some maple flavor in the frosting. Sounds incredible, thanks for the suggestion Alison! I hope you enjoy the pumpkin cinnamon rolls. I need to make them again soon. 

      Thank you so much for the congrats and happy belated to your sweet baby girl!

  23. I just made this cake with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting for my roommate’s birthday! Pumpkin cake is her favorite, and this recipe came out just in time! It’s absolutely delicious. Thank you for the awesome recipes … my roommates and I (with the help of friends!) went through 2 batches of your white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles this week, too!

    Also, welcome to the world, baby girl Noelle!

  24. This. Cake. Enjoyed tonight at my husbands birthday celebration and it was everything promised! Amazing pumpkiney-spicy flavor and the texture was just spot on. I used your  cream cheese frosting and even added the pumpkin candy corns to top each piece like you did with the fondant pumpkins. A great presentation that everyone adored!
    Thank you!

  25. Thanks so much for another fantastic recipe! I subbed half the oil for applesauce like you suggested in the note and I couldn’t tell any difference! Next time, I want to try subbing in some whole wheat flour with the all purpose to up the health factor even more! I also added around a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the frosting and oh man, I highly recommend it to anyone making this cake! It’s so good! Overall, super delicious! Also congrats on your baby girl! So happy for you!!

  26. I was a little skeptical at first, but as I kept on reading I knew this would also be one of my new favorite cake recipes. Thank you for sharing it!

  27. Loved this cake! Made it with the applesauce and oil suggestion with no problems…I used an aluminum pan so it took 38 minutes. Made the browned butter cream cheese frosting only using about maybe 3 cups tops powdered sugar…I always use less powdered sugar in my frosting as I like to taste the tang of the cream cheese and the goodness of the browned butter and not just sugar taste…was really a great cake for our family! I just might not ever return to boring pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving again!!!! Thank you, Sally!

  28. Made cupcakes with my kindergartener. Sprinkled some chocolate chips on top before baking. First time baking pumpkin anything and it was really good. Thanks, Sally, and congrats on the baby!

  29. This looks so delicious! Will have to try it asap 🙂

    xx
    Lilly

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