A soft, moist, and EASY Pumpkin Cake, made from scratch and frosted with a simple, silky cream cheese frosting!
Hello again! Sam here from Sugar Spun Run with another Fall favorite recipe to share! Today I have a sweet, simple pumpkin cake, frosted off with a silky cream cheese icing.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before or not, but I’m something of a cake perfectionist. Not so much when it comes to decorating them (I’m terrible at that, which is part of the reason that I love the low maintenance “semi-naked” technique that I used here), but when I’m working on developing the recipe I won’t settle for anything less than perfection.
I shared a chocolate cake on my own website that literally took me over 4 months to perfect and an oatmeal cookie that was in the works for over a year (for comparison, I planned my whole wedding in 5 months, so you can see where my priorities lie 😉) because I pride myself in sharing only the best recipes. So, if you’re looking for a good pumpkin cake recipe, I can assure you this one has been tried and tested over and over and over again, and has come out on top every time.
The recipe for this pumpkin cake is a pretty simple one, it makes two 8″ layers (though you could use 9″ pans as well, just plan to decrease the baking time by a few minutes) and uses canned pumpkin. Make sure that you use 100% pure pumpkin, and not “pumpkin pie filling”. The two are usually sold side-by-side in the grocery store, but we just want the pure stuff for your pumpkin cake.
It’s flavored with not only the pumpkin, but also brown sugar, a whole Tablespoon of vanilla extract, pumpkin spice, and additional cinnamon.
And then there’s that cream cheese frosting..
I scraped a vanilla bean into my frosting because I happened to have some in my pantry and I love the little flecks they leave, but a teaspoon of vanilla extract will work just as well. This is a silky, very smooth cream cheese frosting that I specifically chose for its lightness. It’s great for applying lightly around the cake, like the semi-naked technique that I used here.
If you want to frost your whole cake, you may want to use a slightly more stable frosting, which you can achieve by leaving out the heavy cream and increasing the powdered sugar as needed.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
- ½ cup canola oil (vegetable oil would also work)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups pumpkin puree*
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ Tbsp heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 2 8" cake pans by lightly greasing and flouring the sides and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl and use an electric mixer). Beat until well-combined and light and fluffy.
- Add oil and beat to combine.
- Stir in pumpkin.
- Add eggs, stirring well after each addition, and then add vanilla extract.
- Add milk and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure ingredients are evenly combined.
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon).
- Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until completely combined (be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl). I prefer to do this with a spatula to avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake on 350F for 35-45 minutes, or until centers spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with few moist crumbs or clean.
- Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- In KitchenAid (or with hand mixer) cream together butter and cream cheese.
- Gradually add powdered sugar to mixture until well-combined.
- Stir in vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and salt. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure ingredients are well-combined.
- Add heavy cream and gradually increase speed to medium-high. Beat for 30 seconds, until frosting is silky smooth.
- Once cakes have cooled, ice/assemble cakes by generously icing between layers, applying an even layer on the top of the cake, and then applying a scant, semi-naked layer around the outside of the cake.
**This cake was frosted in a "semi-naked" style, which means not a lot of frosting was used. If you want to completely frost the whole cake, I recommend increasing by 50% and you may wish to omit the heavy cream for a firmer frosting.
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