In the spirit of pumpkin season, we bring to you our gorgeous Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Super easy to make and soft and moist for days, this fall treat will be your new favorite dessert.
If layers are what you're after, this cake delivers. It has dreamy, whipped cream cheese frosting on the outside and warm pumpkin spice layers on the inside; perfect to bring to a holiday party or to add to your Thanksgiving menu!
ABOUT THIS PUMPKIN CAKE RECIPE
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a slice of autumn heaven on a plate. As soon as you start baking this pumpkin cake, your whole house fills with warm, cozy scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It's like a fragrant hug from fall itself.
The flavors of Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting are a perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and earthy flavors. The combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and other spices create a taste that is both comforting and indulgent.
Pumpkin puree adds moisture and tenderness to the pumpkin spice cake, making each bite incredibly soft and delicious.
PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING INGREDIENTS
Flour | Use all-purpose flour for this cake recipe. Do not sub self-rising or cake flour.
Baking Powder | Baking powder is a MUST for this recipe! Do not accidentally substitute baking soda. The two ingredients do not behave the same way.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice | For this easy pumpkin cake recipe we make our own pumpkin pie spice mix, giving just the right amount of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves to set off the fall flavors in this cake!
Eggs | You will need 4 large room-temperature eggs.
Butter | This cake calls for room-temperature, unsalted butter. This step is extremely important so that the butter can properly cream with the sugar.
Sugar | You need granulated sugar for this Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Forsting. Using granulated sugar over brown sugar keeps the cake unbelievably light and fluffy and allows all those fall spices to shine!
Vanilla | We highly recommend using pure vanilla extract over imitation. It'll cost you a bit more, but it makes a huge difference in flavor.
Pumpkin | Be sure to use canned pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
Sour Cream | Sour cream adds moisture to the cake without thinning out the batter. It's also best if this ingredient is at room temperature before going into the cake batter.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING INGREDIENTS
Cream Cheese | Use full-fat, block-style American cream cheese for this recipe. You want the cream cheese to be softened but not melted.
Butter | Just like with the pumpkin cake, it is important that your butter is at room temperature. If it is too cold, it will not properly blend with the cream cheese.
Powdered Sugar | This recipe calls for lots of powdered sugar -- 2 bags of confectioner sugar! The last thing you want is to run out of icing when decorating your cake!
Spices | The simple additions of cinnamon, cloves, and salt take this cheese frosting from good to gourmet in about .5 seconds!
HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
To kick off your easy Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease your 9-inch cake pans with either butter or baking spray. Then, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Set aside and move on to the dry ingredients!
Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
Now, mix up your wet ingredients, starting with the eggs! Crack all the eggs into a small bowl and use the tines of a fork to whisk.
In a large mixing bowl, combine unsalted, room-temperature butter and granulated sugar using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed to mix for 2-to-3 minutes.
It is important to mix until it appears fluffy and visibly lightened. You want that butter and sugar properly creamed for a white and fluffy cake!
Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
The next thing to do is add in the canned pumpkin purée and sour cream. Mix in these ingredients until they're well-combined. Don't worry if the mixture appears slightly curdled. This is just from the moisture of the pumpkin, and it is totally normal!
Add in your dry ingredients and mix on low until the dry ingredients no longer appear dry. Take care not to over-mix; that can result in a tough cake!
Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and transfer to bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. At the 15-minute mark, you'll rotate the cake pans and bake them for an additional 20 minutes.
As soon as a toothpick inserted comes out either clean or with just a few crumbs after being inserted into the center of the cake, it is ready to pull from the oven.
Set it aside on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Then, turn the cakes out on the rack and allow them to cool completely, for at least 30 minutes.
HOW TO MAKE WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
This whipped cream cheese frosting comes together quickly and easily! Combine room-temperature butter and softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix on medium-high speed until well combined.
Then, add in the powdered sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Begin mixing on low until the powdered sugar appears mostly combined, and then crank up the speed to medium height and mix until perfectly smooth and fluffy!
HOW TO DECORATE PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Once your pumpkin cake is completely cooled, begin decorating!
For flat even layers, use a serrated knife to trim the cooled cakes so they are flat.
Next, add a small dollop of icing to a cake round or serving plate and place one of your cakes cut side-up, centered on top of the icing.
Spoon or pipe about ¾ cup of the icing on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to smooth over the top. Place the second cake round on top of the icing cut side down.
Coat the cake layers with a thin layer of icing and use an offset spatula to spread the icing evenly along the sides and the top of the cake. This is called the crumb coating.
Transfer the cake to the refrigerator and allow the icing to chill and harden. After about 30 minutes, your icing should be set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator to add your final layer of frosting.
I like to use a large open-star pastry tip to pipe dollops of frosting along the top perimeter of my cake.
For a special touch, place a candy corn pumpkin in the center of each dollop. People go crazy for this look!
MAKE-AHEAD AND FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS
If making this Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing ahead of time, keep the uniced cake fresh until it’s ready to pretty up. Let the cake cool completely — if you wrap it while it’s warm, you’ll end up with steam, which will not keep it fresh.
Wrap the cake with plastic when cooled to room temperature. It's best to wrap the cake by itself and not on a plate or platter. Be sure the plastic seals on all sides.
The cake can be kept in a dry place at a cool temperature for a few days.
Pumpkin cake will also keep in the freezer for up to a month. Just allow ample time to thaw before using.
Pro Tip: Factor in the fillings! Even if the cake itself can sit out at room temperature, you’ll need to refrigerate it if you ice with the cream cheese icing recipe.
Because there is cream cheese in this icing, do not leave the cake out at room temperature. It will spoil. Instead, cover it and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You can freeze this cream cheese icing, but freezing cream icing does change the texture (and not for the better most times).*
These instructions can be followed when making our Pumpkin Cupcakes as well!
6 MORE PUMPKIN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Spiced Pumpkin Muffins
- Pumpkin Pie
- Easy Apple Pumpkin Butter
“How to Store a Cake: Tips for Iced & Uniced Cakes.” Craftsy, 23 Dec. 2013, www.craftsy.com/post/how-to-store-a-cake/. Accessed 5 Nov. 2023.
Warm, spicy fall flavors combined with creamy indulgence - that's what you get with this easy Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 room temperature large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup room temperature, unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 (15-ounce) can ( = to 1 ½ cups) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup room temperature, unsalted butter
- 1 ¾ cup (14 ounces) block-style, softened cream cheese
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter or baking spray. Line the bottom of each cake pan with a parchment paper round and set aside until ready to use.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves to a clean, medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set the dry mix aside.
Add the eggs to a small bowl and use the tines of a fork to whisk and combine. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the butter and granulated sugar to a large mixing bowl, and using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Once the mixture appears fluffy and visibly lightened in color, add in the eggs and vanilla mix until well combined.
Next, add the pumpkin and sour cream and mix until combined. Do not worry if the mixture appears slightly curdled. This is from the pumpkin and is normal. Add the dry ingredients and mix with the mixer on low until just combined. Discard or save any leftover pumpkin for another use.
Divide the batter amongst the two prepared cake pans and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Rotate the pans in the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out either clean or with a few crumbs clinging to it.
Remove the pans from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out on the rack and allow them to cool completely.
Add the butter and cream cheese to a clean, large mixing bowl, and mix on medium-high speed until well combined.
Add the remaining frosting ingredients, and with the mixer on low, mix until mostly combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 2-to-3 minutes more, until completely smooth and fluffy.
If necessary, use a serrated knife to trim the cooled cakes so they are flat. Add a dollop of icing to a cardboard cake round, serving plate, or cake stand. Place one of the cake rounds cut side up centered on top of the icing.
Spoon or pipe about ¾ cup of the icing on top of the cake and use an offset icing spatula to smooth over the top. Place the second cake round, cut side down, on top of the icing.
Use another cup or so of icing to add a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake and across the sides. This is called the crumb coating. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator until the crumb coating is set and slightly hardened, about 30-to-45 minutes.
Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake and to add any decorative piping across the top. Serve and enjoy!