Soft Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting
I’m not into complicated, fussy, layer cakes that dirty 10 bowls, only to create a cake that’s so huge it goes stale before it’s finished.
I’m all about one layer, one bowl, no mixer, smear some frosting on it, and dig in. That’s this cake.
It’s the same recipe that I used when I created the Soft Vegan Pumpkin Bread with Brown Sugar Streusel Crust, which was just barely adapted from the Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.
And now, I turned it into a cake. The recipe that keeps on giving.
The cake is so soft and moist, comforting, and if you didn’t know it, you’d think it was made with eggs and butter. But it’s not, and you won’t miss them one bit.
Certain ingredients like pumpkin, bananas, and avocado are great in vegan baking because they’re thick, creamy, fluffy, or fatty, and are great for replacing eggs and butter.
The cake is very fast and simple to make. Just combine all the ingredients (except flour and baking powder) in one bowl, and whisk together in mere seconds, before being turned out into a pan and baking.
Because there’s no butter in the cake, you need to replace the fat from another source. I used Nutiva Coconut Oil from iHerb.com. Code AVE630 at checkout saves you $10 off your order. I love iHerb for everything like probiotics, bulk cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, liquid vanilla stevia drops, bulk white stevia powder, medicinal fancy-grade honey, chia seeds, face cleanser, and nutritional yeast.
The bread doesn’t taste like coconut, and even if you don’t like coconut, I recommend using it. It adds a subtle, very understated flavor you can’t put your finger on. Substitute with canola or vegetable oil if you must.
Since bland pumpkin desserts aren’t worth eating, all my pumpkin recipes are nicely spiced without being over-powering, and this cake is no exception.
It’s pleasantly spiced with pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and has molasses and vanilla for extra depth. If you’re more sensitive to cinnamon or a certain spice, dial them down, to taste.
The spices in the cake are complemented by the pumpkin spice buttercream frosting. I wanted to eat this by the spoonful. And did.
Although the cake is vegan, the frosting is not vegan because I made it with Coffeemate’s seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte non-dairy creamer. If you want to keep the frosting vegan, use vegan-friendly butter and milk alternatives. Easy swaps.
I used the Sugarfree Coffeemeate because that’s what I use in my coffee. I’m a person who likes a little coffee with my cream, and this is my dream creamer. It’s only available September through December, and I’ve been hoarding it.
It was splendid in the frosting. It added extra creaminess and boosted the overall pumpkin flavor. It helped the frosting to not set up ‘crunchy’, which can happen with buttercream frosting that’s been exposed to air. It does firm up, but not in a crunchy way. Crunchy cake is never good.
The cake is supremely soft, moist, springy, and bouncey. There’s just enough satisfying density, without being overly heavy, a curse that tends to plague vegan baked goods.
I love it when I can keep a recipe vegan and on the healthier side as cakes go, without making any sacrifices in taste.
It’s some of the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever tried, vegan or otherwise.
Soft Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting
The cake is supremely soft, moist, springy, and bouncey. It’s some of the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever tried, vegan or otherwise. You won’t miss the eggs or butter in this one-bowl, whisk-together, no-mixer required cake. I use coconut oil and recommend it (doesn’t make the cake taste like coconut), but substitue with another oil if preferred. I love it when I can keep a recipe vegan and on the healthier side as cakes go, without making any sacrifices in taste. The frosting isn’t vegan, but can be kept vegan by using vegan-friendly butter and milk alternatives. The use of Pumpkin Spice Coffee-Mate adds extra creaminess, more overall pumpkin flavor, and prevents the frosting from setting up ‘crunchy’, which can happen with buttercream.
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup coconut oil, in melted state (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted)
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (other milks may be substituted including coconut, soy, rice, cow), preferably at room temp
2 tablespoons mild or medium molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (half of 1 stick; use vegan butter to keep recipe vegan)
about 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Latte non-dairy creamer, or as needed (use vegan milk to keep vegan)
pumpkin pie spice, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- Cake – In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients through optional salt, and whisk to combine. Using room temp milk will prevent coconut oil from re-solidifying, but if it does, a few small white clumps are okay.
- Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined, don’t overmix. Batter is quite thick.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
- Bake for about 27 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
- Allow cake to cool in pan, on top of a wire rack, for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto the rack to finish cooling completely. While cake cools, make the frosting.
- Frosting – In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons creamer, and beat with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth. As needed drizzle in more creamer until desired frosting consistency is reached. If frosting is too loose, add a bit more confectioners’ sugar, playing with the sugar and creamer ratios until desired consistency is reached.
- Turn frosting out onto cooled cake, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. If you have extra frosting, it will keep airtight in the refrigerator for many weeks, and can be used at a future date.
- Sprinkle pinches of pumpkin pie spice over the frosting before slicing and serving cake. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days. I personally am comfortable storing buttercream-frosted items at room temp, but if you prefer to store in the fridge, that’s fine, but note the fridge will dry the cake out more quickly. Unfrosted cake will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Adapted from Soft Vegan Pumpkin Bread with Brown Sugar Streusel Crust, which was just barely adapted from Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting – Small batch recipe of just 6 cupcakes
Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Bread – This bread gets rave reviews from readers and it’s one of my favorites
Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting – My favorite carrot cake recipe and I bake it in a loaf pan rather than cake pans. The recipe is similar to the sweet potato bread except uses carrots rather than sweet potatoes but the spices and ingredients are similar
I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.
What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe this fall?