Pumpkin Cake – moist, fluffy, well-spiced fall cake coated in a delicious and aromatic caramel cream cheese frosting. The ultimate cake for celebrating Halloween or fall. This could easily be your new favorite cake!
I must confess, I’m not a big fan of Halloween parties and all those spooky-themed treats. But I do enjoy looking at them on my Instagram feed.
So do I have that one special thing that I would serve on that day? Yes, I do. And for the past few years, nothing can come close to my favorite pumpkin treat – this PUMPKIN CAKE.
We couldn’t just get enough of this perfect fall treat. It’s moist, full of warm flavors and not overly sweet as you would expect it to be. And that caramel cream cheese frosting??? Oh my! It is just everything you would hope for.
What is Pumpkin Puree?
Like all the other pumpkin cakes you’ll see online, ours is also made of canned pumpkin puree. Here’s a little surprise though, most canned purees are not made from that orange stuff on your front porch. Whaat???
They’re usually made with 2 or 3 varieties of winter squash. And yes, even if the label says 100% pumpkin, there could also be some squash mixed in as the USDA is pretty lenient with their distinction between pumpkin purees.
But if you want to be sure that your cakes, pies and muffins are using only the best pumpkin, then skip the canned ones and make your own pumpkin puree at home.
What is Pumpkin Spice Made Of?
Another ingredient that makes this homemade cake EXTRA delicious is pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is an American spice mix that is a blend of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and sometimes allspice.
All these warm quintessential fall flavors found in pumpkin spice can be both used in sweet and savory dishes. You can use it as:
- an additional flavor to your coffee
- sprinkle it on whipped cream topping
- spice for your favorite nuts
- add it on pasta dishes
- popcorn flavor
- stir it into your pancake or waffle butter
- add it on your oatmeal or bread pudding
- season it on roast vegetables
Don’t worry. If you can’t find any pumpkin spice, you may easily substitute it with the following:
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon spice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ ground clove
Pumpkin Cake Ingredients
Now that you know two of our main casts for this cake, let’s meet the rest of the ingredients for my wonderfully delightful pumpkin cake:
For the pumpkin cake, I use:
Melted butter – To keep our crumbs moist and buttery.
Sour cream – This is use to activate our baking soda with its acidity and also add moisture to our cake.
Eggs – This makes our cake moist and well-structured.
Canned pumpkin puree & pumpkin spice – As the base flavor for our cake.
Vanilla extract – To add flavor and fragrance in our cake.
All-purpose flour – Complements the thick and wet batter well compared to using cake flour.
Baking powder and baking soda – These two help the cake rise beautifully.
Salt – To add flavor and balance out the sweetness.
Sugars – I decided to use a combination of both white and brown sugar for that best sweet flavor and beautiful rich brown color from using brown sugar.
Frosting for Pumpkin Cake
Aaaahh…. I could just write down the ingredients for my pumpkin cake frosting above, but I decided to write a separate paragraph as it deserves to be highlighted.
Our frosting here is not the usual cream cheese frosting that you would see around, but instead, it has T-W-O prominent flavors combined into one. Yep! You might judge me, but I couldn’t be more proud with the result.
I’m like that parent beaming over her kid and telling the people around, “Yeah…That’s my boy/girl! I’m the mom!” 😍
This luxurious, smooth and thick frosting here (see that one below) has an on point marriage of flavors between the tanginess and subtle sweetness of cream cheese to that complex sweet yet toasty flavor from a caramel sauce. The only frosting that would truly elevate the flavors of a pumpkin cake!
It’s best if you try it for yourself! 😉
Can I Make Pumpkin Cake in Advance?
Absolutely! You can bake the cake, let it cool and cover tightly. Store it in the fridge for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. When ready to serve, bring it to room temperature before you apply the frosting.
Another option here is to freeze frosted cake for up to 3 months. Then when ready to serve, thaw overnight in the fridge, bring to room temperature and slice and serve cold. This really pairs well with a warm cup of coffee or tea!
How to Store Pumpkin Cake?
For any leftover pumpkin cake, cover it tightly and store in the fridge for 5-7 days.
More Pumpkin Recipes
- Pumpkin Bread
- Pampoenkoekies aka Pumpkin Fritters
- Pumpkin Chocolate Donut Holes
- Jamaican Chicken and Pumpkin Soup
How to Make Pumpkin Cake
Preheat oven to 350℉. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, sour cream, sugar, pumpkin, and butter.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.
Pour mixture into 9×13 baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly brown and set aside to cool.
**You can stop right here and enjoy slices of this warm and sweet pumpkin cake.
Or you may coat it with a frosting using the recipe instructions below. Enjoy!
- 4 large eggs
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
- ½ cup unsalted butter , melted
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 oz cream cheese , nearly at room temperature
- 3 ½ cups (420g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (113g) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- In a medium bowl, mix eggs, sour cream, sugar, pumpkin, and butter.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Add vanilla extract and mix.
- Pour mixture into 9x13 baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly brown and set aside to cool.
- Caramel: Combine butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and once boiling reduce heat to low and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Pour the caramel into a mixing bowl and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes so it can cool, it will thicken slightly. If caramel gets too hard and is difficult to work with, add 1 more tablespoon of heavy cream.
- Cream Cheese: In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and softened butter. Add the caramel sauce to the cream cheese mixture until combined.
- Using a spatula, smooth the frosting over the cooled pumpkin cake immediately or frosting will harden.
Tips & Notes:
- If you can’t find pumpkin pie spice, substitute 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon spice, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ⅛ ground clove
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.