Pumpkin Spice Cake


My sweet husband John has real soft spot for pumpkin bread, so as a little surprise I made a cake version of his favorite fall-time treat. John's mother has been making him pumpkin bread every year for long as he can remember, and whether he was living at home or in another city, his sweet mother would still make sure that her son got his pumpkin bread. Since we currently live in a different state than John's parents it's been less likely that he gets his pumpkin bread fix, so I thought I could help fill the void with this cake.


This is a very traditional pumpkin cake, one filled with just the right amount of spices. The one unique aspect that you may find is that I call for pumpkin seed oil in this recipe. This is a relatively new type of oil to me, but I liked using it in this cake because of it's deep nutty flavor which is detectable in each bite. The flavor is prominent, so if you don't want to commit to adding this type of oil you can either use half pumpkin seed and half vegetable oil so that you get some of that nutty flavor. Or, you can omit the pumpkin seed oil all together and use all vegetable oil—the choice is yours.


This cake is fragrant and moist, and even though it isn't his mother’s recipe, John couldn't help but smile a first bite. It's times like these that I remember how powerful food can be—I love how it can connect us. For even though John surely longs for some of his mother’s pumpkin bread, at least a slice of my cake can bring him a little bit of love by transforming an old memory into a present reality.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Adapted from Epicurious  

3/4 cup (90g) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (85g) whole wheat flour 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ginger

7 oz pumpkin puree, about half a can

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (53g) packed brown dark brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tbs pumpkin seed oil or vegetable oil 

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish With

sweetened whipped cream

1 orange, preferable organic

1 basket fresh figs

chopped pecans


Equipment: one large and one medium bowl,1 9-inch cake pan, microplane zester

Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the cake pan with a bit of butter, or with some non-stick spray; set aside.

In the medium bowl whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, allspice, ginger; set aside.

In a large bowl add both sugars and the peptia oil, and whisk together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and vanilla until combined. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing with a spatula or spoon until all the flour has been incorporated. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes before removing. Place the cake on a rack to cool completely. Serve each slice with quartered figs, pecans, a dollop of whipped cream, and a bit of fresh orange zest.