The Best Pumpkin Cake I’ve Ever Had
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 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.
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!
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?
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. I always use this glass pan.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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