Who doesn’t love dessert?


Especially when the said dessert is bite sized and looks like this.

Last week I catered a small dessert party for some of my neighbors. Really, it was the annual HOA meeting (yawn) and I guess serving a bunch of small desserts is how they get the neighborhood to go. I wouldn’t know. I dropped of the desserts and came right home to the small plate I hoarded for myself.

I made chocolate brownie bites with sea salt, lemon rosemary butter cookies and this simple pumpkin cake that I cut into individual portions. With Thanksgiving next week I thought a little pumpkin love seemed appropriate. Speaking of pumpkin, want to know a little secret?  I don’t like pumpkin pie. It’s a textural thing. Or maybe it’s the taste. Actually I think it’s the way it looks. OK-maybe it’s all of it. Not wanting to totally buck tradition, pumpkin cake is the perfect medium. This recipe came from my sister-in-law who, I think, got it from her sister. It’s light, has the perfect amount of spice and is soooo versatile. The recipe says it makes a 9 x 13 or 3 large loaf pans or 5 small loaf pans. I made it into a 11 x 18 sheet pan so I think it’s safe to say you can pretty much bake this in anything. Un-frosted bread loaves are great holiday gifts or frost the whole cake for Thanksgiving dessert. Doesn’t matter how you serve it, it’s delicious.

Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

This high altitude pumpkin cake recipe is versatile and the only one you'll ever need!


    For the cake:
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • 2 cups sugar minus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional: 1 cup chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts
  • For the Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 lb box powdered sugar, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Prepare pan(s) with butter and flour or spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin puree, orange juice concentrate, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Mix well with wire whisk. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and with a wooden spoon mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts if using. Pour batter into pan(s) and bake until done. Let cool on rack for 10-15 minutes and then remove from pan(s) and cool entirely before frosting. Cooking times: 9 x 13: 40-45 minutes, 11 x 18: 30 minutes, large loaf pans: 40 minutes, small loaf pans: 25 minutes.
  5. To make frosting, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer with an electric beater.
  6. Add orange zest, cinnamon and vanilla.
  7. Add powdered sugar to taste- I usually use 1/2- 3/4 of the box and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add salt. Use milk in necessary to make frosting desired consistency.


This recipe has been adapted to high altitude living. My kitchen sits just below 7000 feet.

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23 Responses to Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Maria says:

    I love pumpkin cake. I am actually posting one tomorrow:) I love the frosting! Great photos too!

    • Kelley Epstein says:

      Thanks, Maria. Can’t wait to see yours tomorrow. Man- the photos are so tough for me- it does NOT come naturally!

  2. Wendy says:

    Sounds great! I will have to try this one! Our family favorite is pumpkin pancakes. I’ve shared my recipe last month on my blog. Smart woman to lure people to the HOA mtng with food!

  3. Cheryl says:

    Oh, I love how these look. But you have to promise to post those other two recipes because I’m seriously so intrigued.

  4. Sonora says:

    I LOVE pumpkin pie/cookies/cake. This looks so good! I think it is so cool that you are a caterer. It is a job I always thought would be cool, but lack the cooking skills for. 🙂 It was so nice to meet you at bootcamp. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

  5. Terry M says:

    I personally tasted the pumpkin cake and can tell you it is delicious!!!

  6. Oh Yes!! Must include this recipe in my Thanksgiving round-up!!

  7. Meri-Lyn says:

    Hi Kelley,
    I wanted to let you know that I tried this recipe when it was my turn to take birthday treats to work. Everyone loved it and it was eaten up really fast! Thanks for the suggestion.
    I’m planning to try the Molasses Cookies next!

    PS: I gave everyone who asked your web address:)

  8. Lynn says:

    I live in Flagstaff (7000 ft) and was happy to discover this site today–I will be sure to explore for more recipes. This was the perfect recipe to modify my mom’s pumpkin cake recipe for high altitude. Thanks!

  9. Sheila says:

    Would this work in a bundt pan – thanks!

  10. Megan says:

    hi, i was wondering if i can substitute the orange juice for something else?

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