This Pumpkin Cake is soft, moist and filled with warm spices. I’m not sure which is better – the tender spiced cake or the sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting on top! Simple to make, this cake is the perfect treat to bake this fall!
As soon as there’s the slightest hint of a chill in the air in September, I break out the pumpkin and apple recipes. Isn’t fall baking the best? I recently shared my easy Apple Cake recipe, and this pumpkin cake recipe is another one you won’t want to miss!
The Best Pumpkin Cake
This pumpkin cake is everything I love about fall baking. It’s full of warm spice flavor with sweet notes of brown sugar. The cake is moist with an incredibly soft and tender crumb. A creamy, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting is the perfect finishing touch. Slather on the frosting once the cake cools, then slice and enjoy. I couldn’t resist going back for just one more slice of this pumpkin spice cake, and I think you’ll feel the same way.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this pumpkin cake.
- All-Purpose Flour: When measuring the flour, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then level it off. This ensures that you measure the correct amount of flour.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: We’re using both baking powder and baking soda to make sure that the cake rises nicely. Be sure that your baking soda and baking powder are fresh.
- Salt: Salt is an essential ingredient in baking. It brings out all of the other flavors. If you’ve ever baked a loaf of bread and forgotten to add the salt, you know what I mean!
- Spices: The cake is spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. These spices bring out the pumpkin flavor.
- Butter: Makes the cake moist, light and tender, and adds rich flavor.
- Pumpkin Puree: Be sure to use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. I’ve only tested this recipe with canned pumpkin, but homemade pumpkin puree should also work.
- Applesauce: Makes the cake extra moist.
- Eggs: The eggs provide structure.
- Vanilla: For flavor.
- Sugar: We’re using both granulated sugar and brown sugar. The brown sugar has a richer flavor and notes of caramel, which work perfectly in this pumpkin cake recipe.
Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cream cheese frosting, you’ll need cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. The cream cheese and butter should be softened to room temperature so that they mix together smoothly. Be sure to use brick-style cream cheese, not the spreadable cream cheese that comes in a tub. And don’t skip the pinch of salt! It really enhances the flavor of the frosting.
How to Make Pumpkin Cake
This pumpkin cake is easy to make! Here’s a look at the recipe steps. You’ll find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
- Mix the wet ingredients: First whisk together the melted butter, pumpkin puree and applesauce.
- Then whisk in the eggs and vanilla, followed by both sugars.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and then mix with a rubber spatula until just combined.
- Pour the batter into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350° F for 32-38 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool before adding the frosting.
- To make the frosting, first beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Then beat in the powdered sugar on low speed. Finally, add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium-low speed until the frosting is creamy.
- Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake. Then slice and enjoy!
- You can substitute Pumpkin Pie Spice for the individual spices in this recipe. Use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
- Be sure to let the cake cool completely before spreading on the frosting so that the frosting doesn’t melt.
- Let the cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature before making the frosting. Cold butter and cream cheese won’t mix together well to make a creamy frosting.
- You can sprinkle the frosted cake with a bit of cinnamon sugar, if desired.
- Don’t want to use cream cheese frosting? You can skip the frosting and top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream instead.
- The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap.
More Favorite Pumpkin Recipes
If you love baking with pumpkin, try these delicious pumpkin recipes next.
This is the best pumpkin cake I’ve tried! I don’t know which I love more, the moist pumpkin spiced cake or the luscious cream cheese frosting. It’s a good thing we don’t have to choose! Once you try a bite, I’m sure you’ll agree.
For the Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 stick, melted
- 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Make the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, pumpkin puree and applesauce. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, followed by the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a rubber spatula just until no more streaks or clumps of flour remain. Pour the batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish and spread it out into an even layer.
- Bake for 32-38 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Mine was done in 34 minutes. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
Make the Frosting
- Once the cake is cool, make the frosting. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium low speed until creamy, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat on medium-low speed until incorporated and frosting is creamy.
- Spread frosting in an even layer over the top of the cake. Serve immediately, or if making ahead store cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Cake can be stored in the baking dish in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for 3-4 days.
- You may substitute 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice in place of the individual spices in the cake recipe.