Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Written by Becky
I faced a slight baking disaster recently. Maybe a major disaster actually.  Without much planning, I decided to whip up a 3 layer pumpkin cake with spiced cream cheese frosting. I had found the perfect recipe online with a beautiful image of this fall cake. We were celebrating the joint venture of SLC Foodie and The Vintage Mixer blog with my new business partner and friend, Heidi, and I wanted a special cake for the occasion.

I spent an afternoon creating this aromatic cake along with its perfect partner, spiced cream cheese frosting. It would be the perfect fall cake. The directions said to line the pans with parchment but arrogantly I thought I could get away with just butter and flour in the cake pans.  Many of you know where this story is going…well, the cakes wouldn’t come out of the pans.  They completely crumbled. Completely.
So, in order to save the tasty cake that I had put so much effort into baking, I got a little creative. I made parfaits (or trifles, however you want to call them). Lovely, layered, pumpkin cake parfaits, with rich spiced frosting.  A quick creative moment plus a several clear glasses and my dessert disaster was recovered.
If you ever ruin a cake, which I’m sure only happens to me, but if you do, you’ll remember this post and make pretty parfaits instead.

Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

A perfect fall pumpkin cake with spiced cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American



  • 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup butter, (1/2 stick) , softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cup powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat three 8-inch cake pans with softened butter. Cut three 8-inch circles out of parchment paper (don't skip this like I did!) and fit them into the bottom of the cake pans. Lightly coat the paper circles with butter and set aside.
  • Cream butter until smooth in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed. Add the sugars and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Set aside.
  • Combine the pumpkin purée, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. In thirds, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture, blending well after each addition until smooth.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean -- 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan on wire racks for 30 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and return to the wire racks until completely cool.
  • Place one layer on a cake plate and top with one-third recipe of Pumpkin Cream-Cheese Frosting. Repeat with the second and third layers. Serve or store refrigerated for up to four days.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Blend the cream cheese, pumpkin purée, butter, orange juice, zest, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy -- about 5 more minutes.

If you’re interested in seeing the beautiful three layer cake that inspired this creation, check out the original Pumpkin Cake Recipe on Country Living.

Comments (12)

  1. You are so creative! I would have pouted and then eaten the entire cake with my hands out of shame so I could hide the evidence 🙂

  2. Ha!!! There were definitely more than a few bites of crumbled cake that went straight to my mouth 🙂 That's how I knew I couldn't just throw it all away.

  3. I love your solution. It might be even better than a layer cake. More frosting with each bite! I'm going to have to pick up some of those great glasses.

  4. Thanks for the tip! I probably would have dumped my cake and started over or just been sad. Now I have a solution to stubborn cake. 🙂

  5. This sounds SO yummy! Definitely gonna try it and love the tip for the next time I ruin a cake! Because that has happened to me many times!

  6. Congratulations on your new venture! I've had plenty of cakes fail and trifles and parfaits are a girls best friends!

  7. This is so great! And this happens to me ALL the time. I don't know what it is but my oven (in Israel) just won't bake cakes right. So almost every single one comes out a mess. Recipes I've made successfully dozens of times are cooked on the outside and weirdly raw in the middle. Anyway, next time instead of crying and dumping it in the garbage, I'm making parfaits!!

  8. Alright, so I made it in cake form and it turned out great. Then I tried to make it as cupcakes and overnight they cracked and peeled away from the wrappers. Any thoughts on why that happened?

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