Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Recipes: my favorite pumpkin cake

Yesterday, I shared with you about my love for fall, and gave a hint of my love for pumpkin.  I have to admit... if there is any food that I'm obsessed with, it's pumpkin.  When I was pregnant with our first child (and still living in the States), I craved pumpkin like crazy and spent hours baking and cooking everything I could think of -- pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin granola, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pecan pie -- the list was endless! 

Then, we moved to Costa Rica, where it's pretty much impossible to get pumpkin except from a can at the upscale grocery store in the capital city.  When we first moved to this little coffee town in the mountains, I learned that pureed carrots can be a good substitute in a lot of recipes... and carrots, I'm sure, are more common than pumpkin in a lot of countries (so, if you can't get a hold of pumpkin where you are, try this recipe with cooked and pureed carrots!).  Now, friends occasionally bring us down cans of pumpkin, or we splurge on buying some while shopping in the capital, so I still indulge in some of my favorite pumpkin recipes every fall. 

In honor of my favorite season, I'm sharing with you my favorite (and very simple) pumpkin cake recipe!  Our daughter has requested it for her birthday cake for as long as she could talk - a girl after my own heart! 

2nd birthday

3rd birthday
A couple of disclaimers:

- This is not one of those "healthy" recipes you can find on Pinterest.  I have tried various substitutions at times to attempt to make it somewhat healthier, and I'm including those suggestions in parentheses.  But, I prefer the original, lots of oil and sugar version... so, maybe try that first!

- I don't remember where I originally got this recipe, and I don't follow recipes closely when baking, so all of these measurements can vary!

Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for Cake:

- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil (you could substitute applesauce for this)
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (you can decrease the sugar, especially if using applesauce for the oil)
- 15oz. can of pumpkin (you can substitute 1 3/4 to 2 cups pureed carrots in place of pumpkin)
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

- 4oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I never measure this, so this is an approximation)
- cinnamon to taste (again, I've never measured this)


- Preheat oven to 350F.

- Combine eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin with an electric mixer at a medium speed, until ingredients are light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, stir together the rest of the dry ingredients.  Add this to the pumpkin mixture and mix at a low speed until thoroughly combined and smooth.  Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10in. baking pan or lined muffin tins.  Bake for 30 minutes, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

- To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency and taste.  Beat in cinnamon to taste. 

I hope you enjoy this simple, fall recipe.  Please share your favorite fall recipes here! 


  1. Sounds amazing! And those pictures are too cute!

  2. I have been using ayote terriano (not sure about the last word's spelling) you know the ayote that's orange on the inside, sometimes you see it cut up in the feria. Anyway, I've been cooking it and the pureeing it. Use it just like you would the canned pumpkin from Auto! And I do a big cook of them and then freeze the puree in 2 cup portions to pull out when I need to. I was just thinking I needed to do this again in prep for thanksgiving!!!

  3. here's our favorite fall recipe:

    while in africa, we had to make some substitutions - our own homemade butterscotch pudding and spice cake, pureed squash instead of pumpkin, a syrup made from brown sugar, honey & water instead of molasses, heavy whipping cream instead of cool whip. i could usually find cloves but not allspice, so subbed something locally available called quatre epices or jamaican spices. always turned out yummy and is a beautiful fall-looking dessert.

  4. One of our favorite fall recipes is something that I posted back in the comments of this old blog post of mine:
    I make it very vaguely based on that recipe: some pumpkin, carrots, apples, and potatoes, stewed with those sautéed onions and garlic and those spices.

    We love pumpkin! Yesterday I sent our oldest out to buy one, and he came back with two: "They're just so cheap and good, Mama." It's funny here, though. In Russia and Ukraine, pumpkin is kind of the "yuck vegetable" for kids like spinach or broccoli might be in American culture. So, any time I make pumpkin pie or any other pumpkin dessert, I try not to tell people until after they've tasted it.

    1. That's so funny, Phyllis! I actually usually wait to tell kids here that something is made out of pumpkin until after they've tried it, too. Adults are curious about it, and usually love anything I make out of pumpkin. Our pastor actually requests this cake for his birthday every year! I'm hoping to try your soup recipe, probably with an easier to find squash here. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I LOVE anything pumpkin, too! My comfort drink this time of year is a pumpkin spice latte. This recipe makes enough for 4 servings, technically, but I usually drink all of it over the course of a few days. :)

    Pumpkin Spice Latte:
    4 c. milk
    4 TB pumpkin puree
    4-6 TB sugar (to taste)
    2 TB vanilla
    1-2 tsp. pumpkin spice mix (I just mix 2 TB + 2 tsp. cinnamon, 4 tsp. ginger, & 1 tsp. nutmeg & keep it on hand)

    Cook milk, pumpkin, & sugar until hot, but don't boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla, spice mix & strong coffee to taste (about 1 cup). Great topped with whipping cream!

    My boys may not like the latte, but they sure do love these:

    Pumpkin Scones with Ginger Glaze:

    Mix together: 2 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. each salt & baking soda

    Cut 1/2 cup COLD chunks of butter into dry ingredients until crumbly & mixed.

    Mix together in separate bowl: 1/3 c. buttermilk, 1/2 c. pumpkin puree, dash of vanilla, then add to crumbly mixture until it just comes together. Do not overmix!

    Gently mix in 1/2 c. white chocolate chips.

    Knead dough 3-4 times, then pat into a circle on a greased & floured baking sheet. Cut into triangles.

    Bake for 18-20 minutes @ 350.

    Drizzle with glaze while hot: 2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. ginger (or pumpkin spice), 3 TB milk & 1 tsp. vanilla

    It will be a hit!!

    1. Both of these recipes sound amazing! Thanks so much for sharing, Jennifer!

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