I love to bake. I daresay baking is one of my love languages. Perhaps it’s the southerner in me, but nothing says “I’m thinking of you” or “I care about you” better than a baked good. I almost always show up to friends’ houses with something from the oven, and if I’m having people over, you can guarantee there will be something baked and waiting, timed perfectly to still be warm upon their arrival, the smell of fresh sweets wafting in the air. For as much as I practice a healthy, balanced diet, I can’t so no to baked goods – what’s life without the occasional cookie or slice of cake?
We recently had a potluck at work the day before Halloween to raise money as part of our annual ‘Carolina Cares Carolina Share’ campaign. We all contributed dishes – sweet or savory – and paid $5 to eat, and then had the chance to pay $1 to vote for our favorite dishes. I naturally decided to go to the sweet route with my entry.
But, what to bake?
I have several tried and true recipes. My lemon blueberry cupcakes are a smash. I had just made bourbon balls that got 5 star reviews, but those? Not exactly work luncheon approved. My coworkers had already had my pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and monster cookies didn’t feel fancy enough. I almost made my favorite double chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, but, eh. That didn’t rock my boat at that point in time.
So, I took the logical route. I tried something I’d never made before. I wanted something seasonal, which, naturally, meant – pumpkin. Cookies are my specialty, but I suspected there would be a few types of cookies, so I veered in the direction of cake. (There’s that competitive nature coming out!)
The result? The very best pumpkin sheet cake topped with cream cheese frosting I have ever tasted, if I do say so myself. I adapted this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, which she happened to dub the best pumpkin cake she had ever had, and so – here we are. If you’re still planning your Thanksgiving menu, add this to it.
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 can pumpkin puree (I use Libby’s, always; pat out some of the moisture by pouring the pumpkin into a bowl lined with a paper towel)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature (go full fat!)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (ish) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch cake pan.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl, set aside
- Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together until combined. (I use my stand mixer)
- Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix together; batter will be thicker than typical cake batter
- Spread evenly into the prepared pan; use a silicon spatula to smooth out the surface
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking with a toothpick (or fork if you’re in a pinch like I was!) to see if its done
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool
- Beat cream cheese and butter together until creamy
- Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium until frosting forms
- Taste test – if it’s not sweet enough or too thin, add confectioners’ sugar by 1/4th cups until you have the desired sweetness and/or thickness – my momma taught me that one!
Frost the cake, and place in the fridge until ready to serve. I chose to cut mine into squares for presentation purposes (although I didn’t think to use my serrated knife, so they aren’t as pretty as I’d like). I thought they looked a tad plain, so I topped each square with a few chocolate chips.
Y’all, this cake was a hit. I came in second in the contest, but lost to a very worthy dish. I plan to make this again over the holidays, this time perhaps as a cupcake or even a mini cupcake. It may or may not make an appearance at Thanksgiving, depending on how timing works out. I do know this receipe has now become one of those aforementioned “foolproof” recipes.
And just so you know… It’s even better the second day (just store it in the fridge!) and goes very well with coffee, which would imply it was eaten for breakfast.