Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

with pepitas

Who says that you can’t eat pumpkin cake in April? Nobody, and if they do, they’re nuts. I obsessively buy cans of pumpkin whenever I see them. I’ve probably told this story before, but one year I went to buy pumpkin only to discover there was a pumpkin shortage! And it was Thanksgiving! And I freaked out! So, like an abused animal, I hoard pumpkin like I’m never going to see it again, and more often than not, you’ll see a can of it in my cupboard, no matter what time of the year it is. I saw this recipe on Food52 a while back, and honestly, I made it for a Superbowl party I went to waaaaaay back in February, but I’ve been swamped and other things have come up and isn’t pumpkin one of those comforting fallbacks that you can rely on whenever you feel like it? So, I’m posting it now. It’s been raining in New York all week, and I feel as though everyone’s fallen back into winter mode because on top of the precipitation, it’s freezing! I’m trying really hard to cut back on the sugar, but this week has been a bust because without sunshine, there is no motivation to eat well. Therefore, I present to you this cake. It’s simple – just one layer with a healthy dollop of cream cheese frosting on top, sprinkled with crunchy pepitas. The original recipe calls for candying (is that a word?) the pumpkin seeds, but I was in no such mood when I made the cake and probably won’t ever be because half the time when caramel or sugar is involved, I burn it and the pot has to go in the trash. If you’re less accident prone than me, though, feel free to candy away. I don’t think it’s totally necessary, though. The cake is perfectly sweet, but not so sweet that it wouldn’t be okay to eat as a special Friday breakfast, and the cinnamon and nutmeg notes will make you fall back to October or November when pumpkin was everywhere (please forgive me for I have punned).

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingThis past Saturday at Huertas.

Last weekend, Kramer and I went with some friends to try out the new large format dinner at Huertas (for lunch) and I photographed the whole thing. It was delicious and we may or may not have consumed an extremely large amount of rosé, but that’s okay because it was Saturday and believe it or not, sunny. We ate charred scallions dipped in romesco, slow cooked leg of lamb with buttery smashed potatoes, frittata and sausage with cabbage and mustard seeds. And bread. Then we drank wine like it was going out of style, threw our sunglasses on and went our separate ways. After heading to Burnside and Noormans Kil, Kramer and I went home for a much needed nap before heading to a dinner in Long Island City, where I played with a puppy, ate pizza and shockingly, watched basketball for a little bit. Not ready to quit quite yet, we saw The Princess Bride on Sunday at Nitehawk, went to Lucky Dog to play with dogs and eat candy (apparently it was Easter – who knew), followed by Iona and Suzume for a sushi and ramen dinner. All of this was a celebration for Kramer, who started a new job this week! We are so excited and I am particularly proud of him. With that, have a great weekend, everyone.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingpumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingKramer and Chandan conspiring.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingpumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingI guess it’s a pretty big bottle of rosé.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingpumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingSome people aren’t into being photographed.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingpumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingThe line up.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingBatter + frothy egg whites.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingFold your egg whites in.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingPour in your batter, bake and make your frosting.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingFrost, decorate and devour.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingpumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
A simple one layer pumpkin cake made with the most perfect cream cheese frosting.
For the Cake:
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces (usually 1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • raw or toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), for decoration
  1. First, make your cake. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and grease and/or line a 9-inch cake pan. Set aside. Whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.
  2. In your mixer or a large bowl, whisk together your pumpkin puree, oil, sugar and salt. Using your paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, beat in your egg yolks only, incorporating one at a time before adding in the next, until fully mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix together your dry ingredients, and add them to your batter.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until frothy, which will take about 5 minutes and a good amount of elbow grease, but it's worth it. Alternatively, you can transfer your cake batter to a large bowl, wipe out your mixer and beat your egg whites that way, but that seemed like a lot of effort at the time. Once your egg whites are frothy, fold them into your cake batter until fully incorporated, but don't overmix. Pour your batter into your prepared cake pan, smooth out the top and bake in the middle of your oven for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.
  4. While your cake cools, place your cream cheese and butter on the counter for it to soften. When the cake is ready to be frosted, make your frosting. In your mixing bowl, beat together your softened butter and softened cream cheese until smooth. Add in your powdered sugar, a bit at a time, until smooth. Add in a pinch of cinnamon, taste and add more powdered sugar if you think it needs to be thicker or sweeter.
  5. When the cake is fully cooled, remove it from the pan, place it on your preferred plate or decorating surface and smooth healthy dollops of frosting over the top. You may have a little left over, but I did not. Sprinkle with pepitas, sprinkles or whatever else you like. This will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.
Adapted From


10 Responses

  1. Sydney says:

    This sounds SO GOOD. I’m with you: pumpkin all year round!

  2. Pumpkin foreveeeeeer!! This cake is a dream.

  3. Pumpkin and cream cheese are an idea combination no matter WHAT time of year it is, especially where cake is concerned. And cheers, cheers to Rosé, spring and warmth in a glass. Charred scallions in romesco? holy yum, count me in.

  4. Gorgeous dish and beautiful photography! I came across your blog because of its foodie/literary/punny name. Please check out my page – “The Book Cook” at http://warandpeach.com!

  5. Nothing wrong with pumpkin cake any time of year. Looks amazing!

  6. Hahaha you’re a canned pumpkin hoarder. That’s so funny to me XD
    The cake looks gorgeous, and I always crave out-of-season foods. Lovely photos as always =)

  7. Courtney says:

    Loved this!! Just made it for my family. Great size too!

  8. Amanda says:

    Noticed as I was making this that the recipe doesn’t indicate when to add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter. I think I saved it! But, it would be wonderful if you could add that in :)

    Thanks for such a wonderful recipe!

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