When pumpkin cake and cheesecake combine forces, we have pumpkin cake cheesecake! Each forkful of this divine dessert includes creamy cheesecake and deliciously spiced pumpkin cake. For a little something extra, top with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting and finish with chopped pecans.
Today’s recipe was inspired by my favorite pumpkin cream cheese muffins. What a way to start the day! Craving the combination for dessert, I decided to combine pumpkin cake and cheesecake together in a springform pan. Should we coin this dessert duo “double trouble…”??
Sadly, the first try was pretty disappointing. There’s so much moisture in the main ingredients that I had to spend a few extra days testing my recipe idea (and my patience!). I was so determined for this to work. Thankfully the pumpkin cake cheesecake finally came together and I’m thrilled to share the recipe success with you today!
Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake Ingredients
There are two parts to this dessert: the pumpkin cake and the cheesecake. Most ingredients are repeated in each layer:
- Brick Cream Cheese
- Granulated Sugar
- Sour Cream or Yogurt
- Vanilla Extract
- All-Purpose Flour
- Brown Sugar
- Pumpkin Puree (fresh or canned)
- Baking Soda
- Spices (you can use homemade pumpkin pie spice here)
Blot the Pumpkin
You can use fresh or canned pumpkin in the pumpkin cake batter. I recommend sticking with canned pumpkin as it’s usually thicker and sturdier for baking. Whichever pumpkin you use, make sure you blot it prior to using in the cake. Why? In my recipe testing, I found that in order to get enough pumpkin flavor you need 1 and 1/3 cups of pumpkin. However, this amount will weigh down your cake, making it taste heavy and even a little soggy. So, before using it, place the pumpkin in a bowl lined with a paper towel. Place two more paper towels on top of it. Blot the pumpkin to expel as much moisture as you can. Then, add the blotted-dry pumpkin to the wet ingredients as instructed in the recipe.
How to Make Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake
Begin the recipe by making both batters: the cheesecake and the pumpkin cake. Use an electric hand or stand mixer for the cheesecake and a whisk for the pumpkin cake. After you prep both batters, spoon 1 and 1/2 cups of the pumpkin cake batter into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. This will be the base of the entire cake. After that, begin spooning the rest of the pumpkin cake batter and the cheesecake batter on top. Alternate spoonfuls of the batters until both are used up.
No need to swirl the batters together; the spotty randomness bakes into a beautifully swirled cheesecake cake.
Cheesecake Water Bath
I promise a water bath is nothing complicated. All you’re doing is placing the springform pan in a roasting pan, filling it with hot water, and baking. What’s the point, you ask?
I actually have an entire post and video tutorial for How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath.
You see, cheesecake loves a humid environment. The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface. Additionally, this slow and even baking method helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools. Taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath for this cheesecake recipe is well worth it.
Cooling & Chilling
Because of all the moisture, this cheesecake cake takes awhile to bake and cool. Not a problem for those of you with a whole afternoon to spare, but if you’re looking for a quick pumpkin recipe, this cake isn’t it.
Bake it for at least 1 hour, then turn off the oven and leave the cake inside. This is actually one of my tricks for avoiding cracks in cheesecake. The sudden temperature change from inside the oven to outside the oven is simply too shocking for all eggs and moisture in this dessert. Let the cake cool inside the oven as it cools.
Once it cools down, remove the pumpkin cake cheesecake from the oven and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or until completely firm. Overnight would be great!
Optional Cream Cheese Frosting
I don’t usually call cream cheese frosting “optional,” but in this case, it definitely is! The dessert is pretty sweet on its own, but a thin layer of cream cheese frosting is a delicious finishing touch. For the cream cheese frosting, you need 1/2 of a brick of cream cheese (4 ounces total), butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and a splash of milk to thin it out. It tastes just like my full recipe for cream cheese frosting—it’s simply scaled down.
Are you looking for more recipe inspiration? If so, here are some favorite Thanksgiving pies and desserts:
And don’t forget about pumpkin cream cheese Bundt cake—for breakfast OR dessert!
- 16 ounces (452g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60g) plain yogurt or sour cream*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon (8g) all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/3 cups (318g) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)*
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 ounces (113g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1–2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) milk
- optional: chopped pecans
- Adjust oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Make the cheesecake first: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and flour and beat until combined. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. Do not over-mix the filling after you have added the eggs. Set aside.
- Make the pumpkin cake: In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and blotted-dry pumpkin (see notes) together until combined. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until no large lumps remain. Avoid over-mixing the pumpkin cake batter.
- Spread 1 and 1/2 cups of the pumpkin cake batter into the bottom of prepared pan. On top of the pumpkin batter, begin dropping large spoonfuls of both the cheesecake batter and pumpkin batter, alternating one after the other. It doesn’t have to be neat or perfect. Do not swirl with a knife. See photo above of what my cake looked like before going into the oven.
- Prepare the simple water bath (see note): If needed for extra visuals, see my How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath; the visual guide will assist you in this step. Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.)
- Bake for 65-75 minutes or until the center is almost set.* If you find the edges are browning, loosely place aluminum foil on top of the cake as it bakes. Once done, turn the oven off and open the door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, peel the aluminum foil off the bottom, wipe pan dry with a towel, then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight (preferred).
- After chilling, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the rim. Remove the rim.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. (This can be made up to 2 days in advance – cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.) Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then turn up to high speed and beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in 1-2 Tablespoons of milk, depending how thick or thin you want the frosting. Spread onto chilled cheesecake. Top with pecans, if desired.
- Cut into slices and serve cheesecake chilled. Cover leftover cheesecake and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Cover pumpkin cake cheesecake tightly and freeze up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 9-inch Springform Pan | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Large Roasting Pan
- I used plain, low fat Greek yogurt. Any plain yogurt (nonfat, low fat, full fat, Greek, regular) or (low-fat, full-fat) sour cream will be fine.
- Pumpkin is an extremely wet ingredient. In my recipe testing, I found that in order to get enough pumpkin flavor you need 1 and 1/3 cups of pumpkin. However, this amount will weigh down your cake, making it taste heavy and even a little soggy. So, before using it, place the pumpkin in a bowl lined with a paper towel. Place two more paper towels on top of it. Blot the pumpkin to expel as much moisture as you can. Then, add the blotted-dry pumpkin to the wet ingredients as instructed in the recipe.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: You can find pumpkin pie spice in the baking aisle of most grocery stores or make your own homemade pumpkin pie spice. If you don’t have either and want to use individual spices, use 1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground allspice. This is in addition to the 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon—you will still add that.
- Alternate Water Bath Method: This method works as well, and you don’t have to bake the cheesecake IN water. Boil a kettle or pot of water. You need 1 inch of hot water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. Place the cheesecake on the center oven rack of the preheated oven. Place a large metal baking or roasting pan (do not use glass—I usually use a 9×13-inch baking pan or an extra-large cast iron skillet) on the bottom rack. Pour boiling water into the empty pan, about 1 inch deep. Immediately close oven to trap the steam inside. This unique water bath adds steam to the oven without having the cheesecake sit inside the water itself. No need to wrap the springform pan in foil. See How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath for more information.
- When the cheesecake is done, there will still be a 2 inch wobbly spot in the center; the texture will smooth out as it cools.
Keywords: pumpkin, thanksgiving, pumpkin cake, cheesecake
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