Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin layer cake

The last time I made this pumpkin layer cake, my cousin came over and ate two big slices. This was after he had eaten two Chipotle burritos, so either he hadn't eaten in a month or the cake was really good. I'm going with the latter. 

The original recipe is from Bon Appétit, the source of pretty much all the desserts I make. I changed it slightly by reducing the sugar and oil. Maybe instead of weighing in at 865 calories per slice, I can bring it down to 800. Now we can all eat an extra slice of turkey. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



  • 13.5 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • zest from one orange
  • 3/4 cup raisins (optional: soaked in bourbon)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (measure first, then sift)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch diameter cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the first 8 ingredients with a whisk until evenly distributed. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat sugars, oil, and apple sauce. Add one egg at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed before adding the next. Add pumpkin, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Mix until well-combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on the lowest speed until there are a few small pockets of flour left. Add raisins and shredded coconut. With a spatula, mix until evenly distributed. This should remove the remaining pockets of flour. Use a kitchen scale to evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans.

Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Check both cakes, since ovens sometimes have warmer areas. Cook cakes completely in the pans on a rack. Once cooled, invert cakes onto a rack and remove parchment paper. Using a long serrated knife, cut off the domes to level the cakes. Save the leftover cake and crumbs in another bowl - I will show you how to make cake pops with these scraps in the next post!

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla paste, and bourbon until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until frosting in the center of the bowl is pretty much smooth. To avoid over-mixing, which will result in very soft frosting that is difficult to spread, use a spatula to mix in the powdered sugar remaining on the sides of the bowl.

Place one cake (flat side down) on the serving platter. Using an offset icing spatula, spread less than half of the frosting on the cake so the frosting just reaches the edges. Place the second cake (flat side up) on top of the first cake. Spread less than half of the frosting on the cake so the frosting just reaches the edges.

Note: We are purposely saving a little bit of frosting (about 2 big spoonfuls) for cake pops!

Pumpkin Cake Pops

Lavender Crème Brûlée