This is literally the Best Homemade Pumpkin Cake Ever – baked full of flavor with applesauce and spices then spread with a thick layer of tangy, smooth frosting.
Homemade pumpkin cake is a totally necessary fall indulgence – it’s seriously a rule around here. This seasonal cake is straight up delicious! No fuss, no muss and totally uncomplicated. Just how I like things..! Did I mention light and fluffy…it’s that too. In the words of my 4 year old grandson stuffing his face with a big bite of cake…”it’s yummy!” We totally agree.
I love to bake but I definitely had something different in mind with this cake recipe… making a super moist and tasty cake without using a lot of oil. My easy solution was unsweetened applesauce. While the recipe still calls for some oil, it’s only about a third of the usual amount, ditching some of the fat and calories.
The applesauce in the batter gives this cake awesome flavor and texture, but none of the greasiness that you sometimes get with oil. And that’s a win!
How To Make A Homemade Pumpkin Cake
As promised, this cake is super simple and easy to make. Whip together the wet ingredients, dump in the dry ingredients. Beat it all together, scrape into your baking pan then pop in the oven. That’s it. *Let the cake cool completely before frosting!
When you’re ready to frost (not necessary but so decadent), beat the few frosting ingredients together and spread on the goodness. Enjoy.
TIP💡 If you want really fluffy whipped frosting, add a tablespoon or two of whipping cream to the frosting after the frosting’s mixed. Beat for another minute or two on high speed.
Ingredients to Make Pumpkin Cake
- Flour – regular all-purpose flour – nothing fancy!
- Sugar – white granulated sugar.
- Vegetable Oil – for moistness of the cake.
- Applesauce – adds moisture and flavor to the cake, and reduces the amount of oil needed. It’s healthy too!
- Vanilla Extract – a favorite flavor for baking!
- Pumpkin Puree – this is 100% packed pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling.
- Eggs – we always use large eggs to make our recipe.
- Baking Powder – leavening agent to help the cake rise.
- Baking Soda – leavening agent to help the cake rise.
- Spices* – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg – for distinctive fall flavor.
*Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice can be substituted for the spice. Use 1 tablespoon of the mix in place of the spices.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream Cheese – an essential for this recipe! Unwrap and set it out to soften while you’re baking and cooling the cake.
- Powdered (Confectioners) Sugar – to add sweetness. Use a little more or less to get the desired stiffness.
- Butter – we always use unsalted butter. Unwrap and set it out soften while you’re baking and cooling the cake.
- Vanilla Extract – add delicious flavor and aroma.
- Salt – just a pinch to balance the sweetness of the frosting.
- Heavy Cream(optional) – beating cream into the frosting makes a lighter, fluffier frosting.
Freezing Pumpkin Cake
This cake is great for making now and freezing for later. Following these few steps will insure that your pumpkin cake is fresh tasting and ready when you’re ready to serve it.
NOTE – freeze the cake unfrosted. Frost the thawed cake when you are ready to serve.
- Bake the cake according to the recipe and let it cool to room temperature.
- Place the cake on a foil wrapped board, or in the pan if you can do without it, for stability.
- Wrap the cake (and board) tightly in plastic wrap. Wrap again in a layer of foil. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. Leave the foil and plastic on the cake while thawing. That way, any condensation that forms during thawing will stay on the wrapping and not on the cake. The cake can be thawed, still wrapped, on the counter for a few hours if you forget to take it out the night before. It’s just better to thaw it in the refrigerator.
More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes
- Easy Brandy Pumpkin Pie
- Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie (Freezer Recipe)
- Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Slab Pie
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For The Cake
For The Frosting
- 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (1 stick) room temperature
- 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp heavy cream, optional
- seasonal sprinkles for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 9 x 13 baking pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar, oil and applesauce. Beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and beat for 1 minute. With mixer on, add eggs one at a time, beating until completely combined and mixture is smooth.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat again.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, using a spoon to spread batter out and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean.
- Cool on wire rack.
Make The Frosting
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING
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