This is an INCREDIBLY SIMPLE pumpkin sponge cake! It is moist and soft and incorporates a mix of pumpkin spices which give it an autumnal flavour and shredded fresh pumpkin, plus it is literally made in 3 simple stages.
This Pumpkin Sponge Cake is one of my favourite cakes to date.
A similar recipe is my ever-faithful, can't-go-wrong Carrot Cake with Walnuts recipe, no matter how many carrot cakes I've made, this simple recipe has always delivered perfect results and has always been the recipe I've ultimately returned to.
So, having tried several different versions of pumpkin sponge cake, I realised the old adage of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" needed to be applied here, and I took my carrot cake recipe, made some tweaks, added some pumpkin spices for an autumnal twist and, an hour later, my pumpkin sponge cake was made, baked and ready to be iced with a delicious maple syrup cream cheese frosting.
Happy Halloween Baking y'all! 🎃👻
Why make this Pumpkin Sponge Cake?
👻 Incredibly easy!
🎃 Great for using up leftover pumpkin
👻 Easy Halloween dessert
🎃 Goodness of fresh pumpkin throughout
👻 Pumpkin mixed spices for lots of warm autumnal flavours
🎃 Maple syrup cream cheese frosting matches perfectly
See recipe card for quantities.
- Small culinary pumpkin (you will need about half)
- Golden caster (superfine) sugar
- Cinnamon - Ginger -Nutmeg
- Self-raising flour
- Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- Vegetable oil
- Fine salt
- Icing (confectioner's) sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Maple syrup
- Soft cheese
- Sprinkles or other decoration
See end of post RECIPE CARD for precise quantities and instructions.
Pumpkin Sponge Cake
Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out all of the seeds and the stringy bits.
Peel half of one of the pumpkin pieces and roughly grate (I do this in a food processor but you can use a grater), until you have 165 grams.
Hint: use the rest of your pumpkin to make a delicious Pumpkin Soup.
Line your tin, placing one piece of greaseproof (parchment) paper one way and then another the other way.
Add your sugar to a large bowl and then sift over your flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), spices and mix together.
Beat in your vegetable oil.
Beat in your pre-beaten eggs
Fold in your shredded pumpkin.
Pour into your prepared tin.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack.
Maple Syrup Cream cheese frosting
Beat your butter to ensure soft, then add your cream cheese and beat on a low settin to combine.
Beat in your maple syrup and then gradually beat in sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar until smooth and no lumps remain, this can take a few minutes to achieve.
Spread over the frosting over your cooled Pumpkin Sponge Cake and decorate with sprinkles.
If you don't have all of the ingredients listed for Pumpkin Sponge Cake don't fret, here are some substitutions...
- Golden caster (superfine) sugar - you can use white caster sugar or granulated sugar, if using granulated you will need an extra 20 grams (2 tablespoons) of sugar as the grains are bigger than caster sugar.
- Flour - you can use plain (all-purpose) flour instead, if so add a level teaspoon of baking powder and sift it in with the other flour ingredients, this will ensure your pumpkin sponge cake rises.
- Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg - can be replaced with mixed spice, if possible though I recommend still adding ground cinnamon and replacing the ginger and nutmeg only with mixed spice, as cinnamon is such a key flavour.
- Vegetable oil- you can replace it with any flavorless oil, such as walnut oil.
- Maple syrup - if you don't have any maple syrup, try adding a tablespoon of fresh orange juice or milk instead.
For a butternut squash sponge cake you can simply swap pumpkin for butternut squash and follow the same process as per the recipe.
Pumpkin sponge cake will keep for up to 5 days if refrigerated. You need to refrigerate this cake because the icing is made with soft cheese and butter.
You can freeze the cake before it is iced.
To be honest, this recipe is so easy there's not much that can go wrong!
Here are a few things to bear in mind though...
Pumpkin Sponge Cake Top Tips
- Try to use a small, culinary pumpkin if you can because they have lots of flavour.
- Don't try to cut through the pumpkin stalk, it is quite tough, instead simply cut the pumpkin in half and pull it apart.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits of the pumpkin, it will scrape out far easier.
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin from the outside of your pumpkin.
- The pumpkin doesn't need to be finely shredded, in fact, I find it much nicer to coarsely shred it because you can then see the pumpkin pieces within the cake when baked.
- Make sure your eggs are at room temperature because they mix in far easier and produce a lighter cake.
- Regularly wipe down your bowl with a spatula to ensure the cake batter is evenly mixed.
- Don't overbeat, a good beat on a medium-high setting before you add the pumpkin is all you need because the bicarb and baking powder in the flour will perform their magic and ensure your pumpkin sponge cake rises nicely.
Maple Syrup Crean Cheese Frosting Top Tips
- It is important to use good cream cheese, I always go with full fat Philadelphia.
- Ensure your butter is at room temperature, otherwise, it will take ages to beat out the lumps.
- Mix your butter and cream cheese together until just incorporated, it is easy to overbeat cream cheese.
- Don't fret if your cream cheese frosting looks a little lumpy, just keep beating until the lumps have disappeared.
- If your cream cheese frosting seems a little runny simply add some more sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar.
Carving pumpkins are edible however they are grown for the purpose of carving and therefore the flesh can be thin and lack flavour. Most supermarkets mark on the label if they recommend a pumpkin for culinary use, they are often much smaller than carving pumpkins and taste far better.
Absolutely not! Using cream cheese in your frosting creates a very slight tang which works really well with moist cakes, such as carrot cake or pumpkin cake.
More recipes on Ella's Better Bakes that you might like to try...
Pumpkin Sponge Cake
Here's what you'll need...
- Hand mixer with beaters fitted
- Square 9 inch x 9 inch tin
Ingredients you'll need...
Pumpkin Sponge Cake
- 200 g Golden caster (superfine) sugar 14 level tablespoons
- 150 g Self raising flour 1 Cup and 1 tablespoon - or replace with plain (all-purpose) flour and add a level teaspoon of baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
- 120 ml Vegetable oil ½ Cup
- 165 g Pumpkin flesh - grated 1½ Cups
- 2 Large eggs at room temperature and lightly beaten - US = extra large
Cream cheese frosting
- 50 g Unsalted butter very soft - but not runny (4 level tablespoons)
- 125 g Soft cheese (eg Philidelphia) ½ Cup
- 100 g Icing (confectioner's) sugar - sifted 1 Cup
- 1 tablespoon Maple syrup
Here's what we do...
Pumpkin Sponge Cake
- Heat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas mark/355°F
- Line your square 9"x 9" tin with greaseproof (parchment) paper. The easiest way to do this is to lie one piece over the sides and base one way and then another piece the other way.
- Add your sugar to your large mixing bowl and rub any large lumps between your fingers to remove them.
- Sift over your flour, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and mix together.
- Add your oil and mix together until clumping.
- Add your lightly beaten egg and beat on a low setting until incorporated.
- Beat on a medium-high setting for 10-15 seconds, wiping down with your spatula in-between to ensure all the ingredients are mixed in.
- Gentle fold in your grated pumpkin.
- Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 40-45 minutes until a skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack, ensure fully cooled before adding your icing.
Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting
- Give your butter a quick beat to ensure soft. It should be of an easily spreadable consistency but not runny or melted.
- Add your soft cheese and beat together briefly on a low setting.
- Beat in your maple syrup.
- Gradually add spoonfuls of your sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar and beat on a medium setting until smooth and no lumps remain. This can take a few minutes to achieve.
- Spread evenly over your cooled pumpkin cake.
- Decorate with sprinkles or a decoration of your choice.