Pumpkin Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting

leslie-graff-thumbnail.jpgSometimes kids come up with the most brilliant ideas. I wanted to make pumpkin bread the other week (our oven finally got fixed so I've been on a bit of a baking bender) and Laurel suggested that we make a cream cheese frosting and call it cake. Brilliant. I doubled/adjusted slightly this pumpkin bread recipe from Michelle and added frosting (via a recipe in Baking Illustrated (really, anyone who likes to bake ought to own this tome). It was a huge hit. Here's the how-to:
Pumpkin Cake
(Michelle's recipe doubled, with some adjustments, as annotated below)


  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can pumpkin (Original recipe calls for more pumpkin than one can once doubled, but I didn't want to use partial cans. If you want more pumpkin measure out 2 cups.)
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • OPTIONAL: The original pumpkin bread recipe calls for chocolate chips; we omitted given that we were adding cream cheese frosting, but if you want to up the sweet factor, mix in 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips.

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream (or, um, instead add an extra tablespoon of cream cheese or butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cup (5 ounces) confectioner's sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well blended. Set aside.

    2. Beat eggs, pumpkin, white and brown sugars, milk, and oil in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add dry ingredients; stir just until moistened (do not overmix or batter will toughen). If using, stir in chocolate chips.

    3. Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 inch cake pan. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack.

    4. While cake is baking, make frosting by mixing above ingredients together until smooth. If you flip your cake out of the pan this recipe yields enough for a thin layer of frosting on the top and four sides. However, Laurel wanted to practice piping (plus I wanted to leave the cake in the pan so it was easier to store in the fridge) -- using a piping tip, the recipe was a bit short in covering the entire top of the cake. This was fine for us, but if you'd like generous frosting coverage, double the recipe.


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    Image credit: Leslie Graff; a cropped portion of the artwork below. Isn't Leslie's work delicious? I met Leslie for the first time at Pivot and fell. in. love. She's an incredibly talented artist and all around cool person. You can purchase her work as greeting cards, prints, or big awesome paintings.