Pumpkin Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Last weekend marked the first official day of Fall and the start of my favorite time of year. I love when the leaves start to change colors and it’s time to break out the sweaters (and, yes, when Starbucks brings back the Pumpkin Spice Latte). Unfortunately, I live in North Carolina where it’s still currently 75 degrees outside, so it’s not quite sweater weather for me, but it would have been remiss of me not to celebrate the first day of Fall.


To celebrate, I opted for a pumpkin spice cake with a brown sugar frosting. The pumpkin puree keeps the cake nice and moist and there is a full tablespoon of cinnamon in the batter to really enhance the pumpkin. There’s also a generous amount of ground ginger and ground nutmeg. I like to grate my nutmeg fresh with a microplane grater but pre-ground nutmeg works just as well.

The brown sugar frosting has the right molasses-y notes to really complement the cake. The frosting is slightly grainy with the addition of brown sugar – it just doesn’t fully dissolve into the butter like powdered sugar does – but it’s not grainy enough to be off-putting and I think it actually adds to the rusticity of the cake.


I opted to make the cake in two 8×8 square pans (one for me, one to give away) but you could make it in two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans for a layer cake, or even make it as cupcakes. If you do a layer cake or cupcakes, you will probably need to double the frosting recipe. Also, and this is probably my favorite part, this is a one-bowl cake which means fewer dishes to wash.


Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk


Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two 8×8 pans with parchment and grease lightly.

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sugars, and butter. Stir in eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt directly onto the pumpkin mixture. Stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake 20-25 minutes, or until done. Cool the cakes in the pan for about 10 minutes before flipping onto a rack and cooling completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the brown sugar and butter in a stand mixer until well incorporated. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar. Add 1 Tbsp milk to help make the frosting spreadable. Frost the top of each cake with half of the frosting. Enjoy!


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