Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Comments 14 October 2011

Remember how I was recently happy enough with single-layered cakes? I admit my confidence was just not one hundred percent there yet when it comes to going beyond that. I work in a creative field by day, but when it comes to cooking, and especially how to present a cake, we’ll just say I’m not the best. My cakes, if frosted, end up looking pretty messy so when I found this recipe and the picture showed a two-layer cake that was merely frosted between the layers and on top – and not very, well, stylishly (which I know maybe isn’t the point, but still), I knew I’d found my next Adventure in Cakedom. A somewhat loosely-put-together cake? That I can do!

Secretly I long to make something like this Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake, but I guess pacing oneself and building up to it is a good idea. Because honestly my inner – and outer – cook runs away at the thought of making it.With absolutely no grace and much tripping.

Anyway, let’s move on to this cake, because it really is a wonderful, awesomely flavor-fied bit of heaven. But I may be biased. I love pumpkin. I love cream cheese frosting, too. It may be hard to decide which I love more, so it’s great they’re in on this together.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 23

Know what’s funny about this set-up? I forgot to include the canned pumpkin. Thankfully I remembered to get it out to actually use later! Hey, you might think it’s impossible to forget the main ingredient….but it’s not. I made pumpkin cream cheese muffins for my mother the same weekend, and in a fit of exhaustion, forgot to add pumpkin. Yeah. Starting over on that project was a pain in the you-know-where.

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Bring out your cake pans! Prepare your cake pans! Let’s do this ahead of time. You’ll also need parchment paper, which I’ve come to love. You start out by buttering the pans, then placing a rounded piece of parchment in each, then buttering that as well. While this may sound like overkill, trust me, it’s better to do this than not and have your cake possibly stick to the pan later.

Besides, it’s not like the roll of parchment paper won’t come in handy later. It’s great for lining your baking sheets for cookies, as a surface to prepare some items, like those pie pops we made last week, and other things. Parchment paper, it is the baker’s friend. Hug your parchment roll today.

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This is one of those recipes that’s pretty ‘ole cool because you don’t need a mixer of any kind for the cake portion. You will need one for the frosting, but that just makes sense. We totally do not mind for frosting. Because it’s frosting and we wants it and shall have it. Moving on. For the cake portion, you’ll need three bowls, all of whom contain ingredients that will get combined together via the always loyal wooden spoon. Or plastic, whichever you’re rocking that day.

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It’s almost just like making muffins. You mix the eggs, vanilla and oil in one bowl – check. In another mix the dry ingredients: flour, the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves – check! In the third bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, coconut, crushed pineapple, and currants. Check check check. The egg mixture is added to the dry ingredients, then the pumpkin mixture to that. Easy!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 14

I was pleased to discover that the cake batter divides nice and evenly at three cups per cake pan (I was worried about baking two completely and obviously not-the-same-size layers). Measure it in, bake and you get two nicely even layers. I know, I’m such a cake newb. Of course a good recipe would make sure the batter would divide into an easy, even amount. Sheeesh. But now you know. It’s three cups per pan.

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I probably could have put a tad more frosting in the middle, but I decided a little more on top was just fine in the end. The offset spatula really came in handy for spreading the frosting, but just use a regular butter knife if that’s what you have. Plop a big helping in the middle of each layer and smooth it outward. One of the things that attracted me to this recipe is there wasn’t any frosting on the sides. You could probably get away with doing so if you wanted to, though.

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The frosting will have been very soft at the time of application, so the cake needs to be refrigerated to let it set up. I should have let mine set for longer – I think I did so for almost an hour, but another would have been better. I just couldn’t wait to have some of that cake! I mean, look at it – could you wait?

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DO make this one for friends, family, neighbors – otherwise you’ll eat it all yourself. I mean, it’ll taste darn good, but that’s why you must remove it from your home if possible, unless there’s enough folks at home to tackle it all.

The ingredients I was most surprised to see in the recipe – coconut and crushed pineapple – seemed to be just what the cake needed. The coconut gives it an almost carrot cake texture, and you won’t even notice the pineapple as it melds with the rest of the cake very well. I’m guessing that it and the juices from it contribute to this being so wonderfully, decadently moist. There are also dried currants in there! I actually found some at the store! By the same folks who make those raisins. You know, the brand with that very happy lady on it wearing a hat or bonnet or some such.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 1

I made the frosting with a little less sugar – nothing ruins a good cream cheese frosting for me like too much sugar. You should be able to taste the cream cheese still. Your face should not screw up like Po’s did when he got acupuncture in Kung Fu Panda.

When I brought it to work, a coworker pointed out to me that all the butter didn’t seem to bother me. Heh! Gotta keep some of the recipe pure, right?

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Very loosely adapted from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook time: 40 minutes plus cooling time    Level: Easy    Serves: 12

For the cake:

  • Butter for coating cake pans, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple (do not drain)
  • 1/3 cup dried currants

For the frosting:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. Sprinkle the pans with flour, tap the pans to evenly distribute the flour, and then shake off the excess flour. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a large bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour, the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and vanilla. In another medium bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, coconut, crushed pineapple, and currants.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading it evenly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely before frosting the cakes.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth. Add the butter and beat for about 2 minutes until combined. Add the pumpkin purée and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat for about 3 minutes until fluffy.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or platter. Using an offset spatula, spread half of the frosting over the top of the first cake layer. Spread the frosting right to the edge of the top without frosting the sides of the cake. Carefully place the second cake on top, lining up the edges. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake without frosting the sides. Swirl the frosting to decorate the top. Refrigerate the cake to set the frosting. Remove from the refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before serving.


This cake is perfect for making a day or two ahead! It tasted even better the next day, too. Just make sure you store it in the fridge,covered, and, like it says above, take it out about 30 minutes prior to serving. If you’re like me, though, you may not mind eating the cake right from the fridge.

The author also notes that the cake can be well-covered and frozen for up to a month, thawing it for 12 hours prior to serving.

I forgot to sift the powdered sugar prior to making the frosting. It came out fine. More than fine. Is it wrong to just, you know, make a batch of frosting? And no cake?

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Penny says:

    This looks like it would be good for Thanksgiving dessert!

  2. Brie says:

    I don’t think I have time to make the whole cake but I sure have time to make the frosting, it is wrong but it feels soooo good!

  3. KMont says:

    Penny, I think so, too! Great alternative to pumpkin pie if pie’s not your thing. Or even if pie IS your thing. Make both, maybe? 😀

    Brie, yay, another frosting fantastic! This frosting was soooo good! So good. That’s a warning lol.

  4. compostingathome says:

    Diggin’ on the final shot. Good detail, and it just looks sooo yummy. =)

  5. christine says:

    omg this looks so incredibly delish. I literally just took a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread from my oven, but this… this cake looks 100x more decadent. Mmm.

  6. Sophia (FV) says:

    This looks wonderful!

  7. Oh yummy. Multi-layering cakes is pretty easy if you have the right tools. Okay, I’m not trying to sound like a marketing person, but seriously, I won’t make single layer cakes anymore since I’ve gotten the Cake and Cookie Lifter and Cake Leveler. It makes doing it so easy.

  8. Anna says:

    I have everything all planned for my Halloween menu from breakfast til dinner (including snacks…) The thing is I cannot let this Pumpkin cake with yummy cream cheese frosting not be part of my menu for that special day. This has got to be there somewhere…
    Thanks for sharing! That is the good thing about planning early, I can still have it amended 😉

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