Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese FrostingThis frosting is the best baking idea I’ve had in like a year.  I’m sort of over pumpkin honestly so when I got a hankering for a cozy fall cake, I didn’t really know where to turn.  I’m not an apple gal and carrot cake is made of vegetables.  And nuts.  And raisins.  Come on.

So I decided to go with a pumpkin cake but not just any pumpkin cake.  I wanted it to have the moist, dense crumb and warm spices of a carrot cake but with the uniform texture of a traditional pumpkin bread.  This cake gets it right.  It really does taste like a pumpkin-y carrot cake without the carrots.

For the frosting I was hoping to deepen the flavor by adding some brown sugar but couldn’t think of an easy way to add it without the end result being grainy and gritty.  But then I remembered that when they process sugar from brown to white the delicious byproduct they remove is molasses! That’s super easy to whip into a frosting.  I used the mild flavor because I find the full flavor and blackstrap flavor to have an odd metallic taste if uncooked.  That might just be me.  And to give it some tang to balance everything out, I adapted my Perfect Crusting Cream Cheese Frosting, omitting the shortening because the rustic decorating style this cake calls for doesn’t require the frosting to crust.

Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting


The resulting cake has deep, rich fall flavor and a moist texture.  The frosting really takes it to the next level.  This frosting would also be great with a spice cake, carrot cake, apple cake or even chocolate cake.  I’ve included directions for making this as a sheet cake in a 9×13 dish just in case you are not a nut like me and don’t require every cake you make to have at least six layers.  If you make the 9×13 version, expect to have some leftover frosting.  Also expect to find yourself wandering back to the fridge throughout the day to eat it by the spoonful.  It really is that good.

Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

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Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting
This cake has the texture and spice of a carrot cake. The flavor of molasses in the frosting takes it to a whole other level. This frosting would also be great on a spice cake, carrot cake, apple cake or chocolate cake. Instructions for adapting the recipe to a 9x13 sheet cake are included.
Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake
Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake
Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting
To Make Pumpkin Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 6" cake pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment and spray again OR spray a 9x13 dish with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix together dry ingredients. In a medium bowl whisk together wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
  3. Divide the batter equally between the three pans or pour into 9x13 dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes for the three pans (or 35-40 minutes for the 9x13 dish) or until the top of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Let cool completely in pans or dish.
To Make Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until combined, then beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and continue mixing for 1 minute to eliminate air pockets. If not using right away, cover and store in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to use, take the frosting out of the fridge for 15 minutes then beat again on medium-high for a minute or two. Make sure your frosting is warmer than your cake!
To Assemble Cake:
  1. For the 6 inch layer cake: Split each cooled layer. Fill the layers and crumb coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Using an offset spatula, generously frost the top and sides of the cake. Use the rounded tip of your offset spatula or the tip of a teaspoon to drag circles around the top and side of the cake.
  2. For 9x13 cake: Spread frosting evenly over the top with an offset spatula, dragging the rounded tip of the spatula back and forth to make a ridged pattern.
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14 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. This recipe is as simple and delicious as it sounds! I made it into cupcakes, using a modification from Jane: males 24 cupcakes, fill the papers 2/3 full, bake for 18 minutes. And they were amazing! The frosting is out of this world! I’m so glad I had some left to eat with graham crackers.

  2. Delish! Made 2 9 inch rounds. The cake is just as described, like a carrot cake but without the vegetables and raisins. The frosting is out of this world and is the perfect compliment. Brought it to a neighbor’s get together and am now considered an amazing baker. Will make again for sure!!

  3. Well done once again! I especially liked the hearty, full flavor (yet soft texture) of the cake. Unfortunately I only got a tiny wedge of this one, since it flew out of the fridge so fast. Must have been the cake gnomes (a.k.a. our children).

  4. I made this cake with two 9 inch rounds. Super easy and was a hit with friends. The frosting was Amazing. And had lots of extra frosting so made some more cake in a 9×13 pan and was easily able to frost that as well. Perfect easy fall dessert!

  5. This has officially become my go to cake for the fall season! A huge crowd pleaser and easy to make especially if you go the sheet cake route.

    I made this scrumptious fall cake for a neighborhood gathering. Everyone was asked to bring a dessert to share. Cake was a huge hit! I baked it in two 8×8 disposable foil pans. There was PLENTY of frosting left over and, as Jane predicted, I kept finding myself opening that container. I finally put it in the freezer to stop myself.

    I will be interested to see how the frosting hold up to the freeze….when I bake this cake AGAIN this week for Halloween parties.

  6. I have now made the sheet cake version twice! The first time I followed the recipe exactly, with one exception: I mixed the sugar in with the wet ingredients instead of with the flour, spices etc. (Since I was making the sheet cake variation I made a half-recipe of frosting and I still had a small amount left over…which went onto some gingerbread cookies.) This cake was so simple to make and it turned out great, perfectly pumpkin-y and moist. The second time I made it I added some ground cloves to the batter, and for the frosting I a little less molasses, a small splash of lemon juice and upped the cream cheese to frosting ratio for a more pronounced cream cheese flavor–just a personal preference. I took both cakes to work and so many people asked for the recipe! This is definitely going to be something I make multiple times each fall. Yum.

  7. I’m going to make the sheet cake version of this for Thanksgiving! I’m definitely an amateur cake baker, so I have a question or two. I would like to take the cake out of the pan and frost the sides too, do you have any tips for a smooth transition? I was going to use parchment paper to line. Also, I’ll be sharing kitchen time and will be able to bake it the day before. Should I prep the cake any special way before frosting it the next day? Refrigerate it? Leave it out covered? So excited!!

    1. Just saw this! Parchment is perfect and there’s nothing special to do for make-ahead. I’d probably just keep it in the fridge we’ll covered so it will be nice and cool when you frost it <3. Happy Thanksgiving

  8. This is so delicious as a sheet cake that you can savor over the course of a week, (that is, if you can make it last that long). The molasses frosting really is just too good.

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