The Best Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. It's so good that even PSL haters will be falling in love!
This two-layer cake doesn’t rely on artificial beauty to get our mouths’ watering but with the simplicity of its moist spice cake and swoops of tangy yet sweet maple cream cheese frosting. Is it working yet? Are you salivating all over your screen yet?
This recipe was born out of the undeniable popularity of our Best Carrot Cake Recipe. With its choose-your-own-adventure add-ins and drool-inducing brown butter frosting, it is no surprise that this recipe raced to the top of everyone’s “Must Make” lists.
We took the base recipe for this super-moist spice cake and made a seasonal version: The Best Pumpkin Cake Recipe. Like our carrot cake, this recipe is soft, tender, and full of flavor. Almond flour imparts a lovely texture and keeps the layers from being too delicate and squishy (see Baker’s Notes). We love the use of both oil and butter for flavor and moistness and a spice blend that is mild and supports the pumpkin with overpowering it.
Simplicity is the key when it comes to this pumpkin cake. We are heading into the biggest baking season of the year. And while we love our intricately piped cakes (like this Caramel Apple Spice Cake) and show-stopping desserts (we’re looking at you, Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes), we understand that a simple, trustworthy, straight-to-delicious town recipe is sometimes what the party calls for.
Lofty layers that don’t require slicing or completely frosting make this pumpkin cake recipe so easy and approachable. Keeping the sides bare lets you know exactly what you are getting yourself into – something you can’t wait to dig your fork into; a cake that begs to be devoured RIGHT NOW!
The decision to add maple cream cheese frosting was simple. Half the time we even eat spice cake is for the cream cheese frosting, right? Maple pairs beautifully with pumpkin while the tangy cream cheese cuts through some of the sweetness. Because the frosting is only being spread on top of the layers, we leave it quite soft (but not runny), allowing for more maple flavor and less confectioners’ sugar. If it becomes too soft to spread, chill the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes (see Baker’s Notes).
The Best Pumpkin Cake Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup almond flour*
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups pumpkin pureé
1 batch Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe to follow)
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch baking pans and set aside.
Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger in a mixing bowl. Stir in the almond flour and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), mix the butter on medium speed for a minute, or until smooth. Add the granulated and brown sugar and continue to mix for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the oil and mix until combined. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Working in two batches, add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the pumpkin pureé and mix until just combined.
Evenly divide the batter between the two pans. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
Once completely cool, place on layer of cake on a serving dish or cake board. Spread on half of the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting with an offset spatula (or the back of a spoon) until smooth. Place the second layer of cake on top and frost swoops and swirls on the top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounce cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed for 1 minute, or until smooth. Add in 2 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and mix on low until combined. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium and mix until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 more minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix until smooth and combined. Add in the remaining maple syrup and confectioners’ sugar until desired taste and consistency is achieved.*
This is recipe is an adaptation of our Best Carrot Cake which also uses almond flour or finely ground walnuts. If you prefer to keep the cake nut-free, try substituting 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour for the almond flour.
Frosting made with confectioners’ sugar gets very sweet very quickly. We prefer to add the full 4 tablespoons of maple syrup with as little confectioners’ sugar as possible. The frosting should be soft, but still spreadable without squishing out between the layers or running off of the cake. If the frosting is too thin, try refrigerating it for about 10 minutes, or until it stiffens enough to spread.