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Bake the flavor of the season: Pumpkin spice latte cake

Recipe: This cake has real pumpkin in it -- and all those popular spices

Cake and ceramic pumpkin
It's everything pumpkin spice season, but this cake has real pumpkin in it, along
with the appropriate blend of spices. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

With fall comes the return of pumpkin spice lattes and a slew of other pumpkin spice-flavored treats. Add this one to that list: Pumpkin spice latte cake.

More specifically, it’s pumpkin spice cake with pumpkin spice latte buttercream frosting. (There’s no instant coffee in the cake itself, but plenty of spice.)

Unlike lattes, this recipe contains real pumpkin, cooked and mashed, in both the cake and the frosting. (Canned or frozen can be substituted for fresh. Other winter squashes such as butternut or acorn may be substituted for cooked pumpkin, too.)

Of course, it’s the spice that makes it pumpkin spice. “Pumpkin pie spice” is a convenient blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. It’s that combination of five spices (not just cinnamon and nutmeg) that gives pumpkin spice-anything that distinctive taste and scent.

Served plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar, this pumpkin spice cake makes a fine coffee cake or simple dessert on its own. Topped with pumpkin spice latte buttercream frosting -- the recipe follows the cake recipe -- it’s worthy of special occasions and fall get-togethers. (Fingers crossed that there will be plenty in the months ahead).

Want to hold your cake in one hand (like a pumpkin spice latte)? This recipe can be converted into cupcakes, too.

Pumpkin spice cake

Makes 9-by-13-inch cake or 12 cupcakes

Serves 12


2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened

¼ cup shortening

1-1/2 cups sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

½ cup cooked pumpkin, mashed

½ cup sour cream

½ cup milk

Cake in glass pan on stovetop
This cake is good enough to eat without any frosting, just like
it came out of the oven. (But the frosting adds a delicious touch.


Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan or 12 cupcake tins (line if desired). Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beat until well combined. Add vanilla, beat some more. Add one egg at a time, beating well with the mixer after each one. Add mashed pumpkin, beat until smooth.

In a large measuring cup, combine sour cream and milk.

Add dry and wet ingredients alternately to the mixing bowl, beating after each addition, until well blended and smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour batter into prepared pan or cupcake tins.

Bake cake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test.

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Once cool, frost if desired.

May also be served warm, unfrosted, dusted with powdered sugar or served with whipped cream.

Pumpkin spice latte buttercream frosting

Makes enough to frost 9- by 13-inch cake or 12 cupcakes


½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature

¼ cup cooked pumpkin, mashed

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon powdered instant coffee

2 tablespoons heavy cream


With an electric mixer, cream together butter and mashed pumpkin. Sift powdered sugar 1 cup at a time into mixing bowl, beating in each addition.

Add vanilla, pumpkin spice, instant coffee and cream. Beat until smooth, blended and desired consistency. If too thick, add a little more cream. If too thin, refrigerate; butter will quickly harden to spreadable consistency. 

The resulting cake is light and airy, spiced just right.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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