Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Spiced pumpkin bundt cake: with the most gorgeous texture! Velvety & soft, with a buttery backnote & tangy cream cheese glaze. Easy, 1-bowl recipe!
So this coming weekend is my 2nd annual big fat Friendsgiving potluck, and I’ve got Thanksgiving on the brain.
Yesterday I created the signup sheet, making sure I included all the most traditional and beloved fall holiday foods. And it got me thinking, are you a pumpkin pie person?
It seems like most people like pumpkin desserts, but only a select few are actually pumpkin pie lovers. And those who are tend to be pretty passionate about it.
So I whipped up this pumpkin bundt cake for the party, and it proved to be a very good decision.
The recipe comes together in just one bowl, which I love! I’m always a fan of less dirty dishes to wash, but especially around the holidays, when there’s already so much cooking and baking going on.
But best of all, the texture of this cake is just incredible. It’s soft and moist and so velvety! I just love the fine crumb. Not all pumpkin cakes are like that, kwim?
Sometimes they can be gummy, with big open spaces, almost more like a pumpkin quick bread than a cake. But not this one. It’s very delicate, as a cake should be (imho).
The cream cheese glaze takes it right over the top!
The cake itself is not overly sugary-sweet, but the icing gives that little bit of added sweetness. And tangy cream cheese is the perfect complement to the warm cinnamon spice and earthy pumpkin flavor.
WHY USE A BUNDT PAN
Bundt cakes are great because they’re easy, look great, and can feed a crowd.
This pumpkin bundt cake recipe can easily serve 16 people, if not more. So it’s great for holiday entertaining.
I also find bundts easier to make than layer cakes. Less pans to prep and wash, less fussing around with fillings and frostings.
This recipe has a simple powdered sugar glaze that just gets drizzled on top, but you could even skip that and just dust the top with powdered sugar.
And because of the hole in the middle, it’s practically foolproof to bake the cake evenly, maintaining the moistness on the edges while still ensuring that it’s fully baked in the center.
HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN BUNDT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING
This cake basically has 3 steps:
- Dry Ingredients
- Liquid Ingredients
And we are following the reverse creaming method, which I adore. I’ve been making most of my cake recipes this way for decades and it’s never failed me. It’s so easy!
I’m also giving baking instructions, as well as a how-to for the cream cheese glaze.
Start by mixing the flour, brown sugar (I like dark brown sugar for this but light brown will work well too), white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a big mixing bowl.
The spices are pretty traditional: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. If you don’t have all 3 of those, just use about 3 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice.
Next, add your softened butter. The butter should be at room temperature. Not too cold but not melty either.
Add it all in at once, and mix it into the dry ingredients on medium-low speed.
You’ll know you’re done when the mixture resembles damp sand.
When stirring in the liquid ingredients, you’ll want to start with the eggs. This recipe calls for 4 large eggs.
I know the video doesn’t show all 4 being added, but that’s just because I don’t like my videos to be overly long. They’re really just to show how the recipe method should flow.
Be sure to stir in the eggs one at a time. You don’t want to add the next egg until the previous one is fully incorporated. This is to prevent lumps in your cake batter.
Once all the eggs have been worked in, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.
The batter will be very stiff, almost like cookie dough!
Then add the pumpkin puree, sour cream, and vanilla extract.
There’s more info on what kind of pumpkin to use below.
And if you don’t want to use sour cream, you can swap in the same amount of plain yogurt, plain Greek yogurt, or buttermilk instead.
Mix in these remaining liquid ingredients, then turn your mixer up to medium speed and beat the cake batter for about a minute to a minute and a half. This will aerate the batter and strengthen its structure.
BAKE THE CAKE
Transfer the batter to a 12-cup capacity bundt pan that’s been generously greased and floured (even if it’s a nonstick pan!).
Then bake it in a preheated oven until it feels springy when lightly pressed. A skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake should come out clean.
This usually takes around 60 to 70 minutes, but you’ll want to check it for sure because not all ovens are exactly the same.
Once the cake is baked and cool enough to handle, flip it out onto a wire rack or serving plate, and top it with the cream cheese glaze.
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
To make the cream cheese glaze, start by whisking softened cream cheese together with milk until smooth.
Then, stir in powdered sugar, a little at a time.
Keep adding more powdered sugar until you have a very thick icing. It’s best if the icing is stiff, so it lays on top of the cake in a thick layer, rather than just absorbing in.
Lastly, I really recommend adding just a few drops of lemon juice. I didn’t show that in the video below, but I wish I had. It adds so much.
It’s such a small amount that it won’t make the icing taste like lemon, but it does enhance the tanginess of the cream cheese in such a delicious way.
Drizzle/spread the glaze over the cake, making sure the inside of the bundt is completely iced and the outside has drips that fall about halfway to 2/3 of the way down the cake.
If your icing is properly stiff, they will fall very slowly. Just keep that in mind!
WHAT KIND OF PUMPKIN TO USE
For what you see here, I used a can of pure pumpkin puree.
Be careful not to accidentally grab pumpkin pie filling. That is not what you want. That already has added ingredients like sugar and spices. You are looking for pumpkin puree, nothing more.
If you really want to be a superstar, you can roast and puree a whole pumpkin. Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, and roast it cut-side down on a baking sheet until soft. Then just puree it in a food processor or blender until smooth.
The best varieties of pumpkin to use for baking are widely known to be sugar pumpkins, Cinderella pumpkins, or Dickinson pumpkins.
CAN THIS BE MADE INTO MINI BUNDTS?
You can definitely adapt this recipe to make several smaller, individual bundt cakes. This would make a really cute party favor or plated dessert for a more elegant dinner party.
Mini bundt pans come in a lot of different sizes and capacities. I have some that make 12 1-cup cakes, some that only make 6, some that have really tiny little cups, and some that can hold as much as 5 cups of batter.
So, depending on what you want the yield to be, you may want to halve this recipe.
And regardless, you’ll definitely need to adjust the bake time to account for the smaller size. You’ll know your mini-bundts are done baking when a tester inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.
IS THIS HEALTHY?
This recipe is made with wholesome ingredients like eggs, butter, and pure pumpkin. But I’ve included nutritional info in the recipe card below, so you can judge for yourself.
As for ingredient subs for those with food sensitivities, here is what I would recommend:
- For a gluten-free version, swap in a flour blend that subs 1:1 for all-purpose.
- To make it dairy-free, use a plant-based butter substitute that can swap 1:1 for dairy butter. You can also try using coconut cream in place of the sour cream, along with about 1/2-teaspoon of lemon juice. Or if you have a favorite dairy-free sour cream or yogurt, go ahead and use that.
- For an egg-free, vegan pumpkin bundt cake, use a plant-based egg product that subs 1:1 for chicken eggs. You could also try it with a flax seed or chia egg: 1 tablespoon ground flax or ground chia seed, mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and allowed to gel.
Disclaimer: I’m basing these substitutions on my own knowledge of baking. I’m a former pastry chef and I’ve been developing recipes since around 2012. I do believe these would work, but I have not tested them myself so I can’t guarantee the results. But if you do give them a try, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. And I’m sure my other readers would as well!
WHY BUNDT CAKE FAILS
The most common bundt cake fail is to have it partially stick to the pan and break apart. I’ve had this happen to me and it’s so frustrating!
Please, do yourself a favor and grease and flour your pan very generously! Especially around the stem. That part is always so sticky for some reason.
I’d recommend doing this even if you’re using a non-stick pan. Just for that extra peace of mind!
I mist mine with non-stick spray and then dust it with flour through a fine-mesh sieve. Tap the pan all around so every square millimeter gets covered. Then flip the pan over the sink and discard the excess.
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?
This pumpkin spice bundt cake can be made ahead and keeps very well.
The cake itself can be left at room temperature, lightly covered, for up to 3 days.
It’s probably a good idea to ice the cake no more than 8 hours before you plan to serve it, just because it looks prettiest when it’s freshly glazed. The glaze can be kept in a small bowl, covered, at room temperature for a few days. It’s mostly sugar so microbes shouldn’t really grow. But if you want to be extra safe, stash it in the fridge.
Keep the cake in the fridge for around 5 to 7 days.
You can also freeze it! Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and it should keep for a couple of months at least. It can be thawed at room temperature or in the fridge.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPES:
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Pumpkin Bundt Cake Recipe
For the Pumpkin Bundt Cake:
- 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups (293.33 g) dark brown sugar, (loosely packed)
- 2/3 cup (133.33 g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground ginger
- 1 1/2 cups (340.5 g) unsalted butter,, softened
- 4 (176 g) eggs, (large)
- 15 ounces (425.24 g) pure pumpkin puree
- 1 1/3 cups (306.67 g) sour cream*
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla extract
For the Cream Cheese Glaze:
- 3 ounces (85.05 g) cream cheese,, softened
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) milk
- 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
- 4 drops (4 g) lemon juice,, or to taste
To Make the Pumpkin Bundt Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and generously grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
- Stir the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger together in a large mixing bowl.
- Use an electric mixer to work in the butter on medium-low speed, until the mixture resembles damp sand.
- Stir in the eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to become fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, sour cream,* and vanilla extract.
- Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat the batter for 60 to 90 seconds, to aerate it and develop the cake's structure.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out clean (approx. 65 minutes).
- When the cake is cool enough to handle, flip it onto a serving plate.
- Ice the cake with cream cheese glaze before serving.
To Make the Cream Cheese Glaze:
- Whisk the cream cheese and milk together until smooth.
- Stir in powdered sugar, a little at a time, until a thick icing forms.
- Stir in a few drops of lemon juice to enhance the tangy flavor.