I'd absolutely love to devour a chunky slice of this Pumpkin Loaf Cake any time of year, but it feels especially enjoyable in autumn and winter. This deliciously moist and flavoursome cake (which can also be known as pumpkin bread) is packed with spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. We don't have pumpkin pie spice mix in the UK, but it's easily created with the right mix of spices. As is pumpkin puree, you can find details on that further along in this post. Slathered on top of this easy Pumpkin Loaf Cake is a thick cream cheese frosting, that to be honest is lucky to make it on top of the cake as I could just eat it with a spoon!
Ingredient Tips & Equipment Information
- Make sure all your ingredients (particularly the eggs) are at room temperature before you start baking.
- I used unsalted butter and Philadelphia cream cheese for the cream cheese frosting.
- If you live in a place where pumpkin pie spice mix is easily available, then you can use 3 tsp of that instead of the mix of spices I've listed in the recipe. I live in the UK so pumpkin spice mix is not something that's sold here.
- I really recommend using light brown soft sugar if you can for the cake, but if you can't get hold of it, caster sugar will work well too.
- You will need a 2lb loaf tin for this recipe (you can test the size of your loaf tin by seeing how much water the tin can hold, 2lb will hold about 2 pints/1100ml of water). If you have a 1lb loaf tin, simply halve the ingredient amounts.
- For easy lining of the tin, use a loaf cake tin liner*.
- Although I provide cup measurements, I highly recommend weighing your ingredients out using digital kitchen scales*. It is the most accurate way to measure ingredients and will ensure the best results. Digital scales are very low cost and can be purchased for around £12 ($16.50) .
- For teaspoon (tsp) and tablespoon (tbsp) measurements, please use measuring spoons* and not the type of spoons you eat with. Again this will ensure accuracy and provide the best results.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make a Pumpkin Loaf Cake
To make the cake, mix together vegetable oil and light brown soft sugar, then add eggs and pumpkin puree and whisk together well.
Then whisk in the self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and the spices. Pour the mixture into a lined 2lb loaf tin.
Bake the cake for an hour, or until a thin skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let it cool fully. To make the cream cheese frosting, mix the butter and icing sugar together, then add the cream cheese and vanilla and mix until smooth. Spread onto the top of the cooled cake.
Where can you buy pumpkin puree in the UK?
I've found tins of pumpkin puree in the American food section of large supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsburys (the two brands I know of are Libbys and Baking Buddy). I have also heard that Waitrose stock it. It's sometimes available all year round, or sometimes only from mid-August until December. It really does depend on the supermarket with this. Keep asking your local store, you may just bug them enough to get them to stock it! You can also buy it online, I have purchased it from Amazon before, and Sous Chef also sell it. It will be a little bit more pricey, but I've found good deals by buying several cans at once (and the best before dates are usually at least one year long).
Can you make pumpkin puree from scratch?
Yes! If you can’t get hold of the canned version, then you can make pumpkin puree from scratch. A 2kg pumpkin will give you roughly 675g pumpkin puree. The good news is, if you have too much you can freeze pumpkin puree. What you need to do is carefully slice up the pumpkin, de-seed it and scoop out the stringy bits. Then you can either roast or steam chunks of the pumpkin until soft – it will take 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces, use a knife to check tenderness. Allow the pumpkin to cool fully. Remove the flesh from the skin using a spoon, and then use a blender to puree the flesh. You now have pumpkin puree! It’s also great stirred into risottos or curries if you have leftovers. If it's not the time of year for pumpkins but you really want to make pumpkin cake, then you can use butternut squash too!
How long does the loaf cake last for and can it be frozen?
The loaf cake will last for 3-4 days in an airtight container, it needs to be stored in the fridge when it has the frosting on it, but unfrosted it can be stored in a cool place. You can freeze both the cake and the cream cheese frosting. To freeze them separately, wrap the cake well in cling film or put it in an airtight container. The cream cheese frosting can be frozen in a sealed tub. To freeze the loaf cake decorated, freeze on a plate until frozen solid, then carefully wrap in cling film. Remove the clingfilm when you take the loaf cake out of the freezer to defrost, as if it defrosts with it still on it could damage the buttercream.
Can you make this loaf cake with plain/all purpose flour?
Self raising flour, which is very commonly used in the UK where I am based, already contains a raising agent and a little salt too. Therefore if you want to swap it for plain or all purpose flour, you will need to add some additional baking powder and also a little salt if you like. Some people like to add salt to cake recipes and some don't, so I'll leave that up to you as it won't affect the bake. The general advice is to add 2 teaspoons baking powder (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with) per every 200g plain or all purpose flour. So for this recipe you'd need to add 2 teaspoons baking powder. Please note, I have not tested this recipe using plain or all purpose flour.
Can this loaf cake be made gluten or dairy free?
Yes! For gluten free you can replace the self raising flour with a gluten free self raising flour blend. If you only have a gluten free plain flour blend, you will need to add baking powder. The general advice is to add 2 tsp baking powder per 200g flour, so for this recipe you'd need to add 2 teaspoons baking powder. You may also like to add ¼ tsp Xantham Gum for better texture. The cake is dairy free, but for a dairy free version of the cream cheese frosting, use a dairy free baking spread and a dairy free cream cheese.
Can this cake be made into cupcakes?
Yes, check out my Pumpkin Cupcakes recipe for details.
More tips for making the Pumpkin Loaf Cake
- The cream cheese frosting is optional, this cake is also amazing undecorated! Or you could drizzle some melted dark chocolate on top, or a cinnamon icing would be divine too.
- The little pumpkin decorations I used are by Wilton. They were unfortunately sold out last time I checked on Amazon, but if you want to search elsewhere they are called "Wilton Royal Icing Pumpkin Decorations". You can also make your own from fondant, or depending on your location you could get some Brach's Pumpkin Candy decorations.
If you have any questions about this recipe, or if something went wrong and you need help, please use the comment form below and I will get back to you. You can also get in touch with me on my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- Loaf cake tin
- Mixing bowls
- Cooling rack
- Kitchen scales
- Electric hand mixer
- Loaf cake tin liners
- Loaf cake storage box
- Pumpkin puree
- Mixed spice
- Pumpkin spice
*I earn a small amount of money if you buy the products after clicking on the links. You will not be charged anything extra for this. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!
More pumpkin recipes...
Pumpkin Loaf Cake
For the loaf cake
- 200 g Light brown soft sugar
- 100 g Vegetable oil
- 3 Eggs large
- 200 g Pumpkin puree
- 225 g Self raising flour
- ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Mixed spice
- ¼ tsp Nutmeg
- ¼ tsp Ground ginger
For the cream cheese frosting
- 90 g Butter unsalted, softened
- 90 g Icing sugar
- 180 g Full fat cream cheese I use Philadelphia
- ¼ tsp Vanilla extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
- Mix together the light brown sugar and vegetable oil using a hand whisk, until combined
- Add the pumpkin puree and eggs, and whisk in
- Add the self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and all of the spices and whisk in
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for an hour, or until a thin skewer or cocktail stick inserted in the centre comes out clean, I usually check it after 45 minutes. Leave to cool fully either in the tin, or remove from the tin and leaving to cool on a cooling rack
- To make the cream cheese frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth. Then mix in the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth and combined
- Next, add the cream cheese and the vanilla extract and mix in until the frosting is thick and smooth - this won't take very long so be careful not to over mix
- Pipe or spread the frosting over the cooled cake and add sprinkles or other decorations, or leave plain if you prefer
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 3 days