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Pumpkin Spice Cake

This pumpkin spice cake celebrates the warm and cozy flavors of fall in a lighter, eye catching cake that is guaranteed to impress at every occasion, plus it’s make ahead friendly and freezer friendly! This pumpkin spice cake recipe is a light and tender butter sponge cake, infused with warm pumpkin pie spice and layered with fluffy cream cheese whipped cream sweetened with real maple syrup and topped with crunchy toasted pecans. Are you drooling yet? In this pumpkin spice cake recipe post, I’ve included step by step photos, tips and tricks and everything you need to know about how to make this pumpkin spice cake a tender success!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans toasted and chopped more or less to taste


  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream chilled



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease pans with cooking spray WITH FLOUR or grease and flour pans; set aside.
  • Whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar, melted butter and eggs on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about three minutes. Reduce speed to low, add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low until only few small flour streaks remain.
  • Divide batter between prepared pans and level. Bake for 22-28 minutes OR until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, rotating pans halfway through baking.
  • Let cakes cool on a wire for 10 minutes, then invert each cake onto a large plate, discard the parchment, and re-invert back onto the lightly greased rack. Let cool completely.


  • Meanwhile, make the whipped maple frosting. Add cream cheese, sugar, maple, vanilla, orange juice and salt to a large bowl. Beat with a handheld mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
  • Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow stream, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 -3 minutes more. Refrigerate until the cakes have cooled completely.


  • Transfer the cooled cakes to a cutting board. Use a long-serrated knife to score the cakes in half all the way around before cutting. This way, you are not slicing straight through the cake and coming up uneven on the other side.
  • Place one cake round on a plate or pedestal, then spread 1/2 cup of frosting evenly over the top spreading to within ¼” of the edge. Repeat with remaining cake layers and frosting. Sprinkle pecans over top.

How to Serve

  • This cake tastes best served at room temperature. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off. I suggest slicing the cake while it’s still cold and then letting it sit at room temperature because the cake will be firmer and easier to slice when it’s fresh from the fridge.


Tips for the best pumpkin spice cake

Although this pumpkin spice cake recipe is simple, there are a few proper techniques that ensure the perfect cake:  Here’s what to pay special attention to:
  • Pumpkin pie spice substitute.  If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for a total of 2 tsp ground cinnamon), 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.
  • Use correct pan size. It is important that you use 8x8 round cake pans and not 9x9 cake pans.  The cakes are quite short and will be too thin if you use 9x9 pans unless you don’t plan on cutting each cake in half.
  • How to quickly bring eggs to room temperature. Fill a bowl with warm water (not hot) and add eggs and let sit 10-20 minutes.
  • Foam the eggs until ribbons form.  Beating eggs with sugar is called the egg foaming method. Beat the mixture for the full 3-4 minutes until the mixture is beautiful thick, fluffy and a foamy pale-yellow cream that falls into a thick ribbon when the paddle is lifted. The ribbon should sit on top of the mixture for a couple seconds before sinking.
  • Don’t overmix egg mixture.  If the mixture is not whipped long enough, it will be too thin and not be able to hold the ribbon formation, resulting in a tougher cake. Whipping the mixture too long will make it too fluffy to make the ribbons, resulting in more of a foam consistency.  I recommend checking the mixture right at 3 minutes then continue only if needed, stopping once you have reached the ribbon stage.
  • Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  This is the most efficient way beat the egg mixture.  You can use a hand-held mixer but it will just take longer.  If using, make sure you circulate it through the mixture.
  • Don’t overmix the batter.  Once you add the dry ingredients with the egg mixture, stop mixing the batter as soon as you see most of the streaks of flour disappear.  Overmixing cake batter causes the gluten in the flour to form elastic gluten strands which result in a dense, chewy texture.
  • Don’t over-bake the cake.  Start checking your cake at 22 minutes and only add time if needed because an overbaked cake is a drier cake.
  • Level cakes:  leveling the cakes isn’t necessary, but can create a more aesthetically pleasing finished pumpkin spice cake. If you do decide to level the cakes, make sure they are completely cooled first.
  • Do NOT over-microwave cream cheese to soften.  For the perfect frosting consistency, let the cream cheese soften at room temperature to room temperature or you run the risk of runny whipped cream frosting that won't support the cakes.
  • Whip to stiff peaks. It is important that you whip the cream cheese whipped cream to stiff peaks because we want it to be thick and firm enough to hold its shape in between the layers.

How to store

Wrap the pumpkin spice cake with plastic wrap or use a cake carrier/storage container if you have one.  Refrigerate for up to 7 days.  I like to microwave my slices for 10 seconds for moister leftovers.

How to Make ahead

Pumpkin spice cake will last about 3-4 days at its peak but can last in the refrigerator for about a week.  I actually recommend making this cake a day ahead of time because I think it tastes better/more flavorful the second day.
You can also make the cake layers ahead of time. Once cakes have cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.