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Recipe for Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Spice Cake With Maple Frosting

Thelma is a former field editor for Taste of Home magazine and has a huge collection of recipes submitted to her from cooks across the USA.

Thanksgiving pumpkin spice cake with maple frosting

Thanksgiving pumpkin spice cake with maple frosting

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a dessert made with pumpkin and spices. Add some maple frosting and you will have the start of a new Thanksgiving food tradition at your house. After your festive holiday meal has had time to settle, serve a slice of this cake with a hot beverage and your guests will give thanks that you are such a wonderful cook!

Cook Time

Cook timeReady inYields

35 min

35 min

Depends on size of slices


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans OR a bundt cake pan. I always use a bundt pan for this cake as the presentation is very nice. You are the cook so It is your choice!
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.
  3. Using electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter in a large bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs to the sugar/butter mixture and beat two minutes. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, water and vanilla. Continue to beat until everything is well mixed.
  5. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared cake pans or bundt pan.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pans on wire rack for 15 minutes. Then remove from pans and cool sitting directly on the wire rack until completely cooled and ready for frosting.

Maple Frosting

I think maple frosting compliments this cake's flavor perfectly. If you're not a big fan of maple, skip this section and check out my recipes for eggnog and apple frosting below.


  • 11 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons maple flavoring or maple syrup (amount depends on your taste)
  • pecans, chopped or halves (optional)
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  1. Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until a good spreading consistency.
  2. Add maple flavoring and mix well.
  3. If you used two cake pans, cut each in half horizontally with a serrated knife, which will give you four layers. Put frosting between each layer and frost the top, leaving the sides unfrosted.
  4. If you used a bundt cake pan, leave the cake whole and frost sides, inside the bundt hole and the top of cake.
  5. If you wish, sprinkle chopped pecans over the top of the cake or place pecan halves in an attractive manner on the top. Remember, some people are allergic to nuts.

Quick Eggnog or Apple Frosting

If you aren't a fan of maple flavoring, an excellent substitute is eggnog frosting. This is very flavorful with the pumpkin cake and eggnog is easily available in your grocery store during the holidays.

Another delicious choice is apple frosting. The combination of the apple and pumpkin flavors are a good taste combination. In the recipe below, just substitute some apple cider for the eggnog. The choice is yours!


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup eggnog or apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Put sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Gradually add and stir in the eggnog until you have the consistency that you desire. You might need to stir in a little more eggnog than the recipe calls for if you prefer a thinner frosting or a thin glaze.

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Cake Storage Tips

If you prepare the day before serving, keep the cake in the refrigerator. Do not frost it. Remove, allowing enough time to bring the cake back to room temperature as it is more flavorful if not served cold. You can frost it anytime after you remove it from the refrigerator. Refrigerate leftover cake, if you have any left!

Origin of this Recipe

This recipe was shared with me many years ago when I was the editor of a recipe newsletter, Homemaker Headlines. One of my readers from New England contributed this recipe to be included in my publication. She called it "Vermont Spice Cake" and she prepared it without frosting. After a few tweaks to the recipe and the addition of maple frosting, I realized that it would be the perfect dessert cake after a huge Thanksgiving meal, hence the name change to "Thanksgiving Pumpkin Spice Cake."

© 2015 Thelma Raker Coffone

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