Pumpkin Snack Cake
A quick and simple, single layer Pumpkin Snack Cake flavored with warm spices and festive pumpkin, all topped off with a cozy vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect little cake to bake for yourself or a few friends.
Pumpkin Snack Cake
So you’re looking for an easy, small-batch pumpkin cake? This is the homemade cake for you. Baked in a single 8″ pan, this simple cake makes just enough for a small gathering of a few people…or for when you are looking to snack on pumpkin cake all week long 😉
With all the familiar spices of autumn, and, of course, pumpkin purée, this flavorful cake is delicious right out of the pan with a little butter on top, or made up with a swirl of cream cheese frosting. I like my frostings sweet and thick, but if less sugar is more your taste, my cream cheese frosting recipe can be made less sweet (with less powdered sugar) or halved for less frosting. However you like your frosting, I have no doubt you’ll love the flavors in this simple cake, and the ease with which it’s put together – hello, easy decorating!
Why You’ll Love This Cake
- Quick, easy, and totally homemade
- Perfectly spiced and delicious even without frosting
- Just enough for a few people…or for one!
- Topped with a speckled vanilla bean cream cheese frosting
- Super easy to decorate – just swirl the frosting and add a few sprinkles!
What You’ll Need for the Cake
- All-purpose flour makes up the bulk of the cake batter. I like to use an unbleached variety, but any all-purpose flour will work.
- Whole wheat pastry flour makes this cake extra fluffy. I highly recommend stocking your pantry with this flour as it makes for wonderfully fluffy snack cakes and muffins. In a pinch, you can use all-purpose flour instead.
- Baking powder & baking soda leaven this cake.
- Salt enhances flavor.
- Spices add the cozy, fall flavor we all love. I chose a mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, with an emphasis on the cinnamon 😉
- White granulated sugar adds sweetness, of course. Feel free to substitute coconut sugar or raw/unrefined cane sugar in its place (just note the gram weights will vary).
- Olive oil adds moisture to this cake. A regular vegetable oil or avocado oil can be used as well.
- Vanilla extract adds flavor. You can use vanilla paste or extract.
- Egg & egg yolk bind the ingredients together. Why an egg + egg yolk? Simply because this recipe is scaled down from another cake recipe and needs 1 1/2 eggs!
- Pumpkin purée adds pumpkin flavor! And moisture, too. I like the Libby brand for my baking.
- Almond milk also adds moisture. You can use your favorite plant-based milk or regular milk.
What You’ll Need for the Frosting
- Plant-based butter gives this frosting a classic buttercream taste. If you aren’t dairy-free, a regular butter will also work here. I used Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Olive Oil.
- Plant-based cream cheese makes this a cream cheese frosting. I used Kite Hill Cream Cheese Alternative (plain flavor). When using soft, plant-based cream cheeses, it’s best to use them straight from the refrigerator. If you plan to use a regular cream cheese block, you’ll want to let it soften at room temperature first.
- Vanilla bean paste adds vanilla flavor and gives the frosting a beautiful speckled look. Of course you don’t need the paste – extract will work just fine here.
- Powdered sugar makes this frosting. After all, you can’t have frosting without sugar! I like my frosting to be extra sweet, so I added a whole 3 cups. If you like a less sweet frosting, you can add just 2 cups of sugar (your frosting will just be thinner).
Can I bake this in a square pan? I only recommend baking this batter in an 8″ circular pan as there isn’t a standard square pan with an equivalent volume capacity. An 8×8″ square pan actually holds more volume than an 8″ circular pan, so the cake would be too thin if baked in the square pan.
Will regular milk, butter, and cream cheese work? Yes, regular dairy products will work just fine. For the buttercream, just make sure your cream cheese is softened before beating into the softened butter.
How do I make this vegan? I haven’t tested this cake with any egg alternatives, but since it’s an oil-based cake, your favorite egg alternative should work (though I haven’t tested this!).
I don’t like super sweet frosting. Can I make it less sweet? Yes. For a less sweet frosting, you can add just 2 cups of powdered sugar (it will also be less stiff). Alternatively, you can keep the frosting ratios as written but divide each ingredient by 2 for less frosting that is just as sweet.
How do I make this into a bigger cake? You can multiply the ingredients by 2 or 3 to make a layer cake with 2 or 3 layers – just divide the batter evenly into each pan before baking.
- 1/2 cup (65g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (72g) whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60mL) olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup (120g) pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup (120mL) almond milk
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup (57g) plant-based butter, softened (see Note 1)
- 4oz plant-based cream cheese, cold (see Note 2)
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar (see Note 3)
Bake the Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare an 8" round cake pan with non-stick spray. Cut a parchment paper circle to neatly fit in the bottom of the pan, and place it in the pan. NOTE: for a perfectly flat cake top, I recommend using a fabric cake strip - wet it, squeeze out excess water, and wrap around the cake pan before baking.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, egg, egg yolk, pumpkin purée, and almond milk. Add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and bake at 350°F for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Frost the Cake
- Once the cake is totally cool (not at all warm to the touch) you can make the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and softened butter (see Note 2 below).
- Beat in the vanilla bean paste or extract.
- Add two cups of powdered sugar and beat. Taste the frosting - if you'd like more sweetness, add powdered sugar in 1/4 cup increments, up to 3 cups total. I added a total of 3 cups to the frosting pictured in this post.
- Add the frosting to the top of the cake and gently swirl with an icing spatula. Immediately add sprinkles (if desired). Slice and enjoy!
- Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Butter: I used Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Olive Oil for the frosting. You can use your favorite plant-based or regular butter, as long as it's softened first.
- Cream Cheese: I used Kite Hill Cream Cheese Alternative (plain flavor). Since most plant-based cream cheeses are very soft, you'll use them straight from the refrigerator. However, if you plan to use regular cream cheese, or the cream cheese is extra hard, you'll need to soften it at room temperature first.
- Powdered Sugar: you can add 2-3 cups of powdered sugar to this frosting recipe, depending on how sweet you like your frosting. I added a whole 3 cups for a stiffer, sweeter frosting.