Out of every season, fall is the one that brings out what some might consider my most basic side. (So cynical, people!) Give me all the vanilla-scented candles, plush throws to curl up in, handmade artisanal mugs, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. If fully leaning into my Rory Gilmore side is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
Inevitably, it’s around this time of year that I start regularly googling “best pumpkin bread recipe” and going down the rabbit hole of reviews to find my go-to loaf for the season. Last year, we even tested the five best pumpkin bread recipes on the Internet to find the fan favorite. But I still felt that I hadn’t reached perfection.
So, after loads of testing and tweaking to make it my own, I landed on today’s pumpkin cake recipe… with cream cheese frosting! It encapsulates everything I’m looking for in a loaf of pumpkin goodness. Read on for a few tips on making this pumpkin cake recipe, and drop a comment letting us know if you give it a try.
How to Make This Pumpkin Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
First things first: this is a one-bowl cake that comes together in under 30 minutes. Which makes it a perfect weekend baking project to do with kids or when you just want to get in your baking flow without having to think too hard. These are the ingredients you’ll need for the cake itself:
- all-purpose flour (you can also sub half whole-wheat)
- baking powder
- baking soda
- ground ginger
- melted unsalted butter (I find it so much more delicious than most recipes that call for vegetable oil)
- brown sugar
- canned pumpkin
- vanilla extract
The method follows a typical process of mixing the wet ingredients, then stirring in the dry ingredients before pouring the batter into the pan to bake it in the oven. Simple!
All About This Cream Cheese Frosting
This cream cheese frosting is about as good as it gets. It’s actually addictive. Make sure that your cream cheese is full-fat and at room temperature. Then, you’ll blend it in a mixer with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. The secret ingredient here is the heavy cream, which whips up and lightens the entire frosting to make it fluffier and less dense.
Tips for Success
- Room temperature ingredients. This will ensure that everything combines smoothly and reaches the consistency we want.
- Use high-quality, canned 100% pure pumpkin. Organic, if you can find it. Do not use a can of “pumpkin pie filling” here.
- Prep your loaf pan. Lightly spray the inside of your loaf pan to ensure the cake can be removed easily. You’ll want to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into the cake.
Tips for Getting the Perfect Texture
Baking time is important here—overcooking will result in a dry texture. However, if your pumpkin cake comes out too wet or moist, it likely means that it’s undercooked. (A common problem with loaf cakes.) Here’s how to test it: After the cake has been in the oven for an hour, insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out with wet batter, bake for another 10 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs, you can pull it out and let cool on a wire rack. It’s ready!
Ingredient Swaps and Other Ideas
- Swap out your spices. Most pumpkin bread recipes call for pumpkin pie spice, but since I’m not a huge fan of nutmeg or ground cloves, I decided to use just cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla to flavor this one. However, you can absolutely swap the cinnamon and ginger for a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, instead.
- Make these into pumpkin cupcakes or pumpkin muffins! Just fill a muffin tin with the batter about two-thirds full (I like to use muffin tin liners to make it easy), then bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Pump up the protein. To add more protein to this pumpkin bread/cake, you can add two scoops of vanilla protein powder with the dry ingredients, and reduce the flour by two tablespoons.
- Add more whole grains. Substitute half of the all-purpose flour with white whole-wheat flour.
- Change up the texture. Feel free to add a scoop of toasted walnuts or pecans to the batter if you like a crunch!
More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes You’ll Love This Fall
No-Bake Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie
It’s a pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake in one—plus the fact that it’s no-bake means it’s not taking up any valuable oven space on Thanksgiving.
No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bars
This one takes the no-bake theme and translates it to the most delicious bars that are perfect for taking to a holiday potluck.
Chewy Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Glaze
These cookies are perfectly spiced with cinnamon and drizzled with icing for a cozy fall treat that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.