It’s fall and we’re all craving seasonal flavors. This pumpkin snack cake recipe is made from scratch with common pantry ingredients. A small, single layer cake that is easy enough for a weekday bake. Topped with everyone’s favorite – cream cheese frosting, and festive sprinkles, this simple cake is perfect for snacking.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Pumpkin snack cake
If you’re like me, sometimes you want a little something, but an entire cake is too much. There are only two of us here, so a big layer cake would go to waste. Enter the snack cake.
This simple single layer pumpkin spice cake is the perfect size for snacking. It is also great for having friends over and not ending up with a bunch of leftover cake.
This pumpkin spice cake was baked in a square pan, but you can bake it in a round pan if that is what you have.
If you have a fairly well-stocked pantry, you probably have everything you need to make this pumpkin snack cake recipe right now.
I’m using both cinnamon AND pumpkin pie spice because I like a really well spiced cake. I don’t want my flavors to be subtle, but I also don’t want overwhelming. This hits right in the middle.
- All purpose flour – The regular flour you have in the pantry.
- Cornstarch – A little bit makes baked goods soft and tender.
- Baking powder and baking soda – These help our cake rise.
- Cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice – fills our pumpkin snack cake with warm spice flavor.
- Salt – all baked goods need salt, I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
- Pumpkin – 100% pure pumpkin purée in the can.
- Vanilla – Pure vanilla extract, gives an unmistakable flavor.
- Eggs – Eggs provide stability and structure.
- Butter – Unsalted, or “sweet cream” butter. Make sure it is unsalted so you can control the salt. Provides great flavor to baked goods.
- Oil – Helps to keep baked goods moist.
- Sugar – Just a touch of sweetness, not too much.
- Brown sugar – has a deeper flavor than regular sugar, thanks to molasses.
How to make this pumpkin snack cake recipe
First, whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Next, beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Add remaining wet ingredients and beat until smooth.
Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Next, add pumpkin cake batter to prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bake until a cake tester or skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
The first time I tested this snack cake recipe, I baked the cake at 350°F and it cracked on top, as you can see in the photo. The next time I tested, I lowered the oven to 325°F and it was perfectly level on top with not a single crack. It was perfect.
Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing it and placing it on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once it is cooled, pile on the cream cheese frosting. This sweet little pumpkin cake is perfect for snacking.
How to bake a flat cake layer
The dreaded domed cake. It can be really frustrating when you are trying to bake a flat cake layer and it inevitably comes out with a rounded top.
I’m going to share two simple tricks that will eliminate that forever.
First tip – lower the oven temperature. I’ve always followed directions and baked cakes at 350°F as stated in the recipe. That’s fine, sometimes. But, other times, when you want to ensure a nice level cake, you need to drop the temperature a bit.
Second tip: use cake strips or DIY them. I cut up an old dish towel and clipped it to the cake pan with binder clips. I also use binder clips to secure parchment paper inside the cake pan.
Run the cake strips or cut up strips of towel under water, then wring them out. You want them damp, but not dripping wet. Wrap them around your cake pan and secure them before baking your cake.
Once your snack cake has completely cooled, pile on the cream cheese frosting and decorate with your favorite Halloween or fall sprinkles.
Pumpkin snack cake recipe Q&A
YES! You can freeze your pumpkin snack cake for later by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap while it is still a little warm. Do not freeze with frosting. Freeze plain cake.
Yes. This cake stays moist for days. You can make it a day or two ahead and it will be fine.
Cake strips, whether store-bought or DIY, insulate the outside of the cake and prevent it from baking faster than the inside of the cake. By wrapping the cake pan, you ensure more even baking.
Helpful tools and equipment
This is what you’ll need for this pumpkin snack cake recipe, in addition to the basics.
- kitchen scale – not mandatory, but HIGHLY recommended.
- 8×8 cake pan
- cake strips
- offset spatula
- hand mixer
More pumpkin recipes
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For the cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour // 180 grams
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp. (1/2 stick)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar // 100 grams
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar // 100 grams
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/3 cup neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, vegetable)
- 1 cup pure pumpkin purée
For the frosting *see note
- 8 oz. cream cheese (1 block), room temp.
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick), room temp.
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- pinch sea salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- *sprinkles, if desired
- Preheat oven to 325°F // 160°C // Gas mark 3. Prepare an 8x8 inch square cake pan by lining with 2 pieces of overlapping parchment and wrapping pan in cake strips, if desired. Secure parchment and cake strips with clips.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with both sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated, then add vanilla and beat until combined.
- Lastly, add oil and pumpkin purée and beat until smooth.
- Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat until smooth.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 - 35 minutes. Check cake at 25 minutes, then every few minutes thereafter. Baking time will depend on your oven. Remove cake when a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
- Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing from pan and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- While cake is cooling, make frosting: Cream butter and cream cheese together with an electric hand mixer until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt, mix to combine.
- Add powdered sugar in 2 batches, thoroughly mixing between additions and whipping for 30 seconds after second addition to make it light and fluffy.
- Spread frosting over the cake and smooth top with an offset spatula. Top with sprinkles if desired.
Recipe makes a LOT of frosting, for a thick layer. If you do not like a thick layer of frosting, cut the recipe in half. That should be perfect for those who like less frosting.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 514Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 375mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 1gSugar: 54gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂
Questions? Send me an email, I’m happy to help. I’d love to send you weekly tips and recipes, so you can get updates about what’s happening in the kitchen!
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