Pumpkin Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting

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My birthday was a few weeks ago and I had a hard time deciding what cake I wanted.  But, after realizing that I had a printout of this recipe for nearly three years without ever making it, I figured that this cake's time had come.  

Just about any cake with a cream cheese frosting is a winner in my book and this cake is no exception. However, I did cut back on the original amount of frosting because, in my opinion, this cake is all about the tender and delicious pumpkin layers and I felt the extra cream cheese would weigh down the cake.  The original recipe made a maple-cream cheese frosting, but I love the combination of pumpkin and orange, like in these Spiced Pumpkin Muffins.  

After taking my first bite-- yum, there were so many flavors bouncing around; spices, citrus, sweetness, not to mention pumpkin and cream cheese.  It was an instant love-hate relationship.  I was in love with the cake, but I hated myself for waiting this long to make it. Please, don't wait like I did.  Just go make this cake!

Pumpkin cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
serves 8-10

For the Cake
1/2 cup (4-ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 1/4 cups pumpkin purée, homemade or canned

For the Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cold
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch of ground cinnamon

For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and pepper over a medium bowl; stir in the salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Add the pumpkin and beat until smooth.  Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans.  Rap the pans lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Place the pans on a wire cooling rack and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes.  Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

For the Frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and orange juice just until blended.  Add one-third of the sugar at a time and beat just until smooth; do not over beat.  However, if the frosting seems too stiff, beat a few seconds longer.  Stir in the orange zest and cinnamon.  

To assemble the cake, place one cake on a serving platter.  Frost the top of the cake and place the second layer on top.  Frost the sides and top.  Allow the frosting to set before serving, about 1-2 hours.  Enjoy!

Source: Cake adapted from Leite's Culinaria, Frosting adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997


  1. I don't often see recipes combining pumpkin and orange, but it sounds like it would be delicious! I wish I had a slice of this right now!

  2. I'm loving the pumpkin orange combo.

  3. Gorgeous photo! Looks delicious and I love the orange with pumpkin combo!

  4. I made this cake for my birthday 'cause I really wanted to try it. Very moist and delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Liz-
    Happy Birthday to you! I am so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me know:)

  6. How do you make your frosting look so perfect and beautiful?! I’m impressed. I am making a bundt cake tonight and trying to figure out how to frost it with the cream cheese icing recipe I have, or if I even should ice it at all.

    1. It depends on the frosting/slicing for the technique, but for this frosting, I use a warm offset spatula. It's just practice:)


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