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The Great Pumpkin Cake

  • Author: Cindy Gibbs
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 to 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minute
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


The Great Pumpkin Cake consists of three super moist warmly spiced cake layers. and tucked between them is a delectable cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  This is a great cake to fix for a special occasion or holiday!


Units Scale


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can pumpkin puree, 15 oz. (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk


  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 1/2 packages)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7 cups powdered sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line three 8-inch cake pans with rounds of wax paper.  Grease the wax paper and insides of pans and lightly flour the pans, tapping the pans to remove excess flour.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together on high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time on medium speed until incorporated.  Add the vanilla, pumpkin, and vegetable oil and mix until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately with the buttermilk, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients only until incorporated.  Do not overmix.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.  I use a kitchen scale but you can eyeball it.  If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I suggest lifting up each pan to see if one feels heavier than the others.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edges of the cakes.  Gently shake each pan up and down to make sure the cake is not sticking to the pan.  Invert the cake layers onto wire racks, peel off the wax paper and allow the cakes to completely cool before frosting.


  1. Mix:  In the large bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on high speed until it is very light and creamy with no lumps.  Add the butter and mix together on high speed for about 30 seconds until the mixture is combined.  Add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon and mix to combine.  On low speed, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.  The end result should be a perfect spreadable and piping consistency.  If the frosting is a little too thick, add a tiny bit of milk or half, 1 teaspoon at a time.  If the frosting is a little too thin for piping or spreading, add a little more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.
  2. CRUMB COAT (OPTIONAL):  If you want a nice smooth frosting free of crumbs you can opt to frost the cake first with a crumb coat.  This is optional.  To do the crumb coat, make sure the cake layers are cool.  I placed them in the freezer for 5 minutes.  Place the layers on a cake plate, spreading a thick layer of frosting between each layer.  Spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and over the top of the cake.  This is the crumb coat.  It will coat all of the loose crumbs so they don’t pop up in your frosting later.  Place the cake in a freezer for about 10 minutes to set the crumb coat.  Finish the cake with a thick layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake.
  3. CAKE DECORATIONS (OPTIONAL)  I mixed up an additional 1/2 batch of the frosting to make decorations.  Note, I am not in any way, a cake decorator.  See my notes above this recipe for the colors and cake decorating tips I used, or go with your own idea of how to decorate the top.



  1. Store cake covered in the refrigerator.  Set out about 30 minutes before serving for the best flavor.  This cake should stay fresh for up to 4 days if refrigerated.
  2. This cake has a mildly spiced flavor.  If you love a certain spice, such as cinnamon, feel free to add a little more spice to your liking.
  3. This cake freezes well.  Place the cake in a freezer for a few minutes to firm up the frosting.  Wrap the cake securely with two layers of plastic wrap, then one secure layer of foil.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  To thaw, place the cake in the refrigerator overnight.  Set out about 30 minutes before serving.

Keywords: pumpkin cake, pumpkin, cake, cream cheese frosting, pumpkin spice cake,