Pumpkin Cake With Butter-Pecan Frosting
Balancing flavor and texture is a formidable challenge that most recipes for this snack cake get all wrong. We hold back on the spice to let the pumpkin flavor shine through.
Why This Recipe Works
Pumpkin cake recipes are easy: Just stir together canned pumpkin, flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and spices; pour the batter into a pan; bake it; and top the cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake should be moist and velvety, with just the right balance of pumpkin and spice, but the pumpkin cake recipes we tried made damp cakes with a harsh burn of spice. And the cream cheese frosting was way too sweet and rich. To avoid these pitfalls, we made the cake with packed pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin pie filling. The cake made with the puree actually tasted like pumpkin, which was one of the features we wanted for our Pumpkin Cake with Butter-Pecan Frosting. Using puree also allowed us to control the spices ourselves, and we opted to use just a bit of ginger, cinnamon, and allspice to give the cake a subtle spiciness. To solve the problem of heavy and cloyingly sweet frosting, we lessened the amounts of butter and confectioners' sugar and increased the amount of cream cheese. The result was a tangy frosting that perfectly complemented the spiced cake and gave us our ideal Pumpkin Cake with Butter-Pecan Frosting.